BACON, KEVIN – FROST/NIXON
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Kevin Bacon plays Richard Nixon's loyal and dedicated chief of staff, Lieutenant
Colonel Jack Brennan in Ron Howard’s dramatic return to the most famous of
Watergate interviews, Frost/Nixon. A veteran of more than 50 films, Bacon's
recent screen appearances include Mystic River and The Woodsman. In this
interview, he reveals the irony of how he grew up in a household that hated
QUESTION: This is the second film you have made with Ron Howard. [The first
was Apollo 13] What makes him such a special film maker?
KEVIN BACON: He is the full package. He is a great storyteller, he is a
great shooter. He has a real eye for casting, I think, and he keeps his eye on
the prize. He is a very focused person and extremely friendly, nice and easy to
QUESTION: What research did you need to do into Jack Brennan, the character
that you play in Frost/Nixon?
KEVIN BACON: Well one of the things that was great was that they had this
amazing packet arrive at the house - it was a gigantic box of reading material,
articles of the time and obviously the tapes themselves. I sought out Jack
[Brennan] and took a trip up to his house at Rhode Island and we sat and looked
out at the ocean and the bay and just talked. We hung out and exchanged emails.
He is a great guy. I think that job is a little different from that of Frank
Langella and Michael Sheen in that Frost and Nixon are both people of whom we
have very clear images. They are real guys who are etched in our brains; whereas
Jack, obviously he is a real person but it was not a question of me trying to do
an imitation or physically represent him as much as it was to get into the
essence of who he was.
QUESTION: Before you became involved in this film what had your views been on
KEVIN BACON: Well I grew up in a very, very liberal, left wing kind of
household, so obviously he was the bad guy. I was raised in a household that
despised Nixon. My mother was a radical, left wing activist, so he [Nixon] was
kind of the boogie man to us. But I think that any great story/film about a real
person is going to humanise them, that’s what these performances do and what
Peter [Morgan] and Ron [Howard] have done because that’s the truth. And the
truth is that any person who has power still has blood flowing through their
veins. That’s what makes this so compelling, to see the other side of a
character that we have almost turned into a caricature.
QUESTION: And had you been aware of David Frost and his place in television
KEVIN BACON: Oh yeah, sure, of course! I had not watched the actual
interviews at the time but I was aware of them and I was aware of his [Frost]
world-wide popularity and that he was a larger than life character.
QUESTION: Do you think the viewer of Frost/Nixon will take on board the whole
business of trial by television because this is where it started?
KEVIN BACON: Yeah I think that this is where it started and it continues
all the time in politics and in other situations where people say something,
they put their foot in their mouth and they are somehow trapped; or they expose
something on television and the power of the close-up is there. The thing about
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television is that with rewind/repeat, rewind/repeat, rewind/repeat, it makes
things have a tremendous kind of resonance.
QUESTION: Had you seen the original Frost/Nixon stage play?
KEVIN BACON: I had. I loved it. I thought Frank [Langella] and Michael
[Sheen] were fantastic. They gave incredible performances and it was so great to
see that they were going to take those and mould them into film performances. I
was thrilled with it.
QUESTION: The film Frost/Nixon deals with a significant episode in recent
American history. As an American how important is it to you to be part of this
movie re-examination of history?
KEVIN BACON: I think that there is that historical element, and there is
also just great entertainment in the film. There are fantastic performances from
the two leads and it is just a really entertaining ride. I sort of compare it to
Rocky, it feels very much like a boxing movie and that was a smart move on the
part of the film makers, to deliver a kind of thrill ride.
QUESTION: One of your great scenes in Frost/Nixon is when Brennan bursts into
the TV interview room and disrupts the interview between Nixon and Frost because
he is worried about how it is going. That sums up what kind of guy he is,
someone who is prepared to do anything to protect a man whom he respects.
KEVIN BACON: That is right. He is a Marine and that is what they were
trained to do. He is trained to be the first one on the beach and the last one
out and to throw himself in harm's way to protect his commander in chief. So he
felt that was the right thing to do.
QUESTION: You have quite a few scenes with Frank Langella. What did you think
of the way he inhabits the role of Richard Nixon?
KEVIN BACON: It is fascinating, incredible. If you know Frank, he is so
different from Nixon. When he came to the set, I never saw him as Frank, until
the day that we wrapped. I only related to him as Nixon and it was really
Published April 30, 2009
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FROST NIXON 1977
Directed by Ron Howard
Screenplay by Peter Morgan
For three years after being forced from office, President Richard Nixon
(Frank Langella) remains silent. But in summer 1977, the steely, cunning former
commander-in-chief agrees to a series of interviews –at a price - with David
Frost (Michael Sheen) intending to easily outfox the breezy British showman and
secure a better place in the hearts and minds of Americans. Likewise, Frost’s
team harbours doubts about their boss’ ability to hold his own. But as the
cameras roll, a charged battle of wits ensues.
Australian theatrical release: December 26, 2009
Australian DVD release: April 29, 2009