‘MaXXXine’ Star Kevin Bacon Is Embracing His Villain Era

Kevin Bacon is very good at being bad.

The actor, who has had an incredible career since appearing in “Animal House” in 1978, plays a sleazy, morally compromised private detective in Ti West’s deranged, 1980s-set slasher movie “MaXXXine,” which is being released theatrically the same week that “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F” hits Netflix, where he plays a corrupt cop menacing Eddie Murphy’s Axel Foley.

But is it true what actors say about villains being more fun to play?

“I don’t ever think the villain is being more fun than a good guy. I think to myself, What’s fun? Is it a cool part? But the thing about me is that I’m not afraid of playing villains,” Bacon explained to TheWrap. “If I did another four villains, I wouldn’t worry that people would go, Oh, he’s a bad guy. I’ve done terrible s–t in movies to children, to animals. It’s awful. You know what I mean? That doesn’t concern me. As a result, I think I’m someone that people know that I’m open to it. I’ve heard it said many times that, ‘Oh, must villains must be so much fun.’ And I don’t necessarily feel like that. I mean I just did ‘City on a Hill,’ the series. And I was a good guy. It was great.”

As for how he ended up in “MaXXXine” as John Labat, the slipperiest southern private eye, Bacon said that he had seen the other two films in the franchise, “X” and “Pearl,” and had watched director Ti West’s earlier film “The House of the Devil.”

“I’m into the genre stuff,” Bacon said. He had a meeting with West not knowing that there was going to be a third film in the series. “I like to meet filmmakers that I think are making cool s–t,” Bacon said. “And in the course of that meeting, he said, ‘Hey, you know, there’s this part.’”

West already had the bedrock of the character – the fact that he was from Louisiana. But Bacon was still able to shape the character with the filmmaker. “When you get into a situation with a director who is collaborative — I think most good directors that I’ve worked with are at least open to what my thoughts may be about who the character is — it’s very easy to lose track of what came up with what when,” Bacon said. “But I think there were things that got adjusted and changed as we talked about.” They also talked about what Bacon describes as the more “external stuff” – the clothes, the dialect, the body language and “the whole Labat point of view.”

Oftentimes Bacon would think of an idea for the character and shoot West a text message, only to be met with an entirely new version of the screenplay, incorporating Bacon’s ideas. “I don’t even know how he how he works in that way. But he works very quickly and he’s a hyper focused dude,” Bacon said.

One of the great sequences in “MaXXXine” involves Labat chasing the title character, Maxine Minx (played once again by the great Mia Goth), into the “Psycho” house. It’s a callback to the Alfred Hitchcock movie, which saw private detective Milton Arbogast (played by Martin Balsam) meet his end pursuing the answer to the mysterious disappearance of Marion Crane at the Bates Motel. The chase spills out into other backlot areas and even has Bacon bursting through the doors of the courthouse in the iconic town square set immortalized in movies like “Back to the Future” and “The Monster Squad.”

Bacon said that the sequence was “fantastic” and actually made him a bit nostalgic. “I don’t look back a lot, but I started to think to myself about being on these lots when I was in the ’80s and how mind blowing it was. It wasn’t that long ago that I was living in Philly, I moved to New York in 1976. And then to come out and see these magical places, it was just so, so great. And [that scene] was a way to get back into it,” Bacon said. “And to end up at the at the Bates Motel…”

And it wasn’t just “Psycho” that Bacon found himself channeling – after he gets attacked my Maxine, Labat is sporting a large bandage over his nose, which called to mind another classic. “I looked at myself, and she had, you know, f–ed up my nose. And I had the linen suit and the fedora and I was like, Wow, this is really a lot like ‘Chinatown.’ I hadn’t really even thought of it,” Bacon said. His look also called to mind Charlton Heston in “Touch of Evil.” Not that he was consciously calling back to any other performance. “I would look at other movies if I was directing something, but acting not so much,” Bacon said.

Pearl Split

While this is largely assumed to be the end of the “X” trilogy, West has recently suggested that there could be another movie set in between the events of “X” and “MaXXXine.” And Bacon would totally be down to be a part of it. “I’ve joked with him many times that what we really need is an Labat origin story now,” Bacon said. “I would love to walk in that guy’s sleazy shoes again.”

But with all this reminiscing, we wondered if there role from his past that Bacon would like to reprise? Bacon, without missing a beat, shot back with one role: Val McKee from “Tremors.”

“I’ve really wanted to see that guy. I’ve tried multiple times as a movie. There’s hesitancy there on the part of universal and it’s kind of confusing. But we also did a television pilot with Blumhouse a few years ago for a series. We all thought it was cool, it just didn’t pan out,” Bacon said. “But you know, the thing about it is, as you mentioned, I’m in ‘Beverly Hills Cop.’ And this is the fourth one, the reason that you want four of them is because you want Axel Foley, you want to see Eddie in that. It’s not just the movie, you have to want to see that person go through life. That’s the only character that I really have ever thought, No, I want to see what he’s up to.”

Us too, Kevin. Because the only thing scarier than giant underground worms is the malaise of middle age.

“MaXXXine” is now playing exclusively in theaters.


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