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In the first trailer for the upcoming movie Cop Car above, Kevin Bacon plays a bad-to-the-bone small town sheriff who’s out for blood when someone steals his ride. What kind of people would dare boost a car from such a shady lawman? Two rebellious young kids (James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford) who soon realize the world of trouble they’ve driven into. A lean, 88-minute throwback thriller, Cop Car is the latest project from writer-director Jon Watts (2014’s horror movie Clown) and made its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January. (It hits select theaters on Aug. 7 and then VOD on Aug. 14.) Yahoo Movies recently talked to star Bacon about playing a dirty cop, handling movies with kids in peril, and growing that awesome sleazy mustache.
What made you want to play such an evil small town cop?
It was an interesting challenge, because he doesn’t say a lot. There’s a lot you have to get about him in just the way he handles things, moves, thinks. When I was a kid, I used to think a part was as good as how many lines you had. I’ve changed my attitude about that.
Some have described Cop Car as a really great B-movie.
It’s a story about a kind of loss of innocence, about little boys and little boys’ toys. It starts off almost feeling like a period piece in the simplicity of the life the kids lead. But then a much darker force enters their lives, and the world is a violent and frightening place sometimes. The movie takes us on this journey where, like any good thriller, we’re going, “No, no, no, no, oh please, God no!”
Variety’s critic, who loved the movie, noted that there are so many scenes of kids in danger, that it could only have been made by someone with no children.
If you look at my career, this is not the darkest place I’ve gone with kids before. For instance, I once kidnapped a 7-year-old Dakota Fanning and was dragging her all over Vancouver in a film called Trapped. Not a hit [laughs]. And The Woodsman and Sleepers. People ask how I can go to these places if I’m a father. I always feel like the work is its own thing. What I do with my life, with my family, my friends, with the world, are two separate things.
Did you take extra care with the young actors, James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford?
I don’t pretend to the kids that I’m that guy. I don’t want them to feel unsafe or scared. There’s no reason to scare them for real if they’re good actors — and they generally are good actors. They don’t have to be truly scared of me in order to play the part. I’ve seen people try to manipulate children in a working situation, and I find it repulsive. So, I come in, I say, “How you doin’? I’m Kevin. You’re my colleague. We’re going to be working together on this thing, and when I’m playing this part, I’m going to be doing some crazy stuff here. Just know I’m playing the part, you’re playing the part, we’re colleagues, and let’s get it done.”
Do you have a favorite scene?
There’s a scene that’s a single shot in movie, when I come out and discover that the car’s not there. I try to run, I realize that’s stupid, I come back, I pick up the phone, and I dial dispatch. I walk off camera — the camera stays where it is — and I come back into frame. I’m trying to bulls— my way out of this thing. Jon Watts had always envisioned this as a single take. Young directors always have those kinds of images and ideas: Sometimes it’s not so easy in the execution. Me having experience with this, I was saying, “Listen, do you have something to cut away from? What if we don’t get this one?” He seemed pretty confident that he wanted it to play as a single shot. It creates this tension in the introduction to this guy, and what he’s thinking that makes it work great. And he was absolutely right. I think we might have done 17 takes to get it, but we got it, and I’m very happy with that.
You have this great sleazy mustache in the movie. Was that your idea?Yeah. There’s a certain type of person that will take that time to grow that kind of a mustache, who believes in the mythology of the Old West in a way — when men were men — boots, guns, bikes, and beer. That just seemed like who he was.