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Kevin Bacon On ‘You Should Have Left’ And The Story Behind Why He’s In ’Planes, Trains And Automobiles’

It’s always a weird thing when the holiday season starts, as John Hughes’ Planes, Trains and Automobiles starts plying in a constant loop as Thanksgiving approaches, when out of nowhere Kevin Bacon shows up, in a race against Steve Martin’s Neal Page for a New York City cab. There are Reddit threads devoted to this appearance, with the theory being Bacon is playing his character from Hughes’ She’s Having a Baby, which was released that next year. Well, a note to those Reddit threads: Bacon clears the whole thing up here.

Now that that’s settled, Bacon is starring in this weekend’s new Blumhouse release, directed by David Koepp, You Should Have Left. Bacon plays Theo Conroy, a, let’s say, man with a past, who is on vacation with his young wife (which is very much part of the plot), played by Amanda Seyfried. The couple end up on vacation at a remote house in Wales and … strange things start happening. Probably the less said the better. Ahead, Bacon takes us through how this movie came to be (he’s also a producer) and, as he says, blows up a Reddit thread.

This has been a strange experience. Universal had me in a zoom waiting room. Just all these faces hanging out on my screen.

Yeah, well, listen, we just need to keep our fingers crossed that we don’t get Zoom-bombed. I’m sure you’ve heard of that phenomenon.

Oh yeah. That sounds terrible. And then you’re in a video being made fun of. I don’t want that.

People have said, well, once you do a virtual junket, you’re never going to want to do another junket. Yeah, I don’t want to travel to the Four Seasons and sit in front of a potted plant. On the other hand, I really do miss human contact, so this is very strange.

So you produced this movie, too, right? What does that mean? I feel that can mean anything from doing nothing to being highly involved, which I assume you are.

I’ll tell you exactly: I did a movie with David Koepp called Stir of Echoes 20 years ago. And we had been talking – more like I had been begging him to do something else with me for a long time. I was talking to Kyra [Sedgwick, Bacon’s wife] and she said, what about a horror movie that has to do with a marriage? David and I were having lunch and I brought that up, and right away I could see that this one was sparking ideas. He’s a great idea person.

And I believe that he’d already written an outline, and I happened to see a review and then read a book over that weekend of a German translation called You Should Have Left. And was kind of floored, as sometimes happens in the zeitgeist, with how similar where we were at with the story was to You Should Have Left. So, I spoke to David about it, and he was like, no-no-no, I’m not going to read it, I can’t even look at it. And then of course he went out and read it. And we have to get it. So we got in touch with the writer and he was willing to sell us the option on the book.

Is what we see in the movie kind of a combination of what you guys had before and the book? I know there’s some pretty major changes.

Yeah. I think there are pretty major changes. Honestly, it’s hard for me to remember where the book was at and where we were at, but I think tonally there were things that were similar, and the fact that it was a couple certainly was similar. But there was a lot of stuff that we also adjusted.

A couple of weeks ago it felt like it was announced out of the blue this would be available on demand. How did that work?

David was really leading the charge on it and said, you know, I know that we were waiting maybe for things to change or for things to sort of open back up even in the video on-demand segment, but it was actually a process that started months ago. Is there a spot when we could put this out? Thankfully, Blumhouse and Universal were open to the idea, and here we are.

A few weeks ago theater owners kind of made it known they weren’t happy about movies being released like this.

Listen, a lot of people worked really hard on the film, and I think it’s an excellent film, and I think it has a right to be seen. I grew up in love with going to the movies and sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers. I’m a movie consumer. I often play hooky and go off to an afternoon movie. Sometimes I go with David, actually, that’s one of the things that we do – I’ll call him up and say, hey, what are you doing, let’s go to the 2:00. I look forward to the days when we can be doing that again, but we can’t right now.

No, we can’t.

So I think that we’re thrilled that we have this opportunity to put it out.

What’s the last movie that you and David Koepp played hooky for and went and saw?

Wow, that’s a really good question. Let’s see, what was the last movie that played hooky? Well, it was probably, it might’ve been something in London? I’ll tell you one thing that we did see, which was interesting. There was this amazing exhibit at the Tate Modern in London. It was called The Clock, and it’s a 24-hour movie that the guy curated every single second of a 24-hour cycle from movies, clips of movies. So in other words, someone would look at his watch and go, in a 1935 thriller, “Well, it’s 12:43!”

Oh yeah, I’ve heard about this.

And then there would be another shot of a clock moving, and then you go through it and you sit and you watch it in real-time. I mean, you can’t watch the whole 24 hours. You could try! So we went to see some of that, and amazingly, when we showed up, I think both of us were thinking the same thing, which was are any of our movies in this movie? And they were.

Oh, which one?

Well, Secret Window was. While we were there, in the theater, we saw a clip from the movie that Dave wrote and directed. And then what I was told was that I was there, but like 4:30 AM or something. And I think the film was Hollow Man. I think it was Hollow Man. It’s an amazing accomplishment. It’s hard to explain how breathtaking it is. They’re from all over the world and all different genres and ages and stuff, it’s a really cool thing.

So here’s something I’ve always wondered — and there are Reddit threads devoted to this — why are you in Planes, Trains and Automobiles? The theories are you are playing the same character from, She’s Having A Baby. Is that accurate?


Ah. Okay.

No, I can tell you exactly what it was.

Okay good.

[Laughs] I love that there’s a Reddit thread! But I’m going to blow it up. I made She’s Having A Baby with John Hughes. And I loved working with John, he was fantastic. And when we wrapped She’s Having A Baby, he was about to start Planes, Trains and Automobiles. And I said to him, dude, you have to get me a part in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Let me do anything! I said I’ll be an extra. So, he made me an extra. But what happened was Planes, Trains and Automobiles ended up coming out first, I think.

That is correct.

Before She’s Having A Baby, even though we had shot She’s Having A Baby first. There was some kind of a shifting of their schedule. So that when Planes, Trains and Automobiles came out, it didn’t look like I had any kind of connection to the movie or to John Hughes, that I just was this random kind of thing. It was really because I really enjoyed John and I enjoyed that experience and just wanted to keep it going, so I showed up and hailed a cab for him.

Okay, this makes more sense than coyly introducing a character for a future movie Marvel-style.


Before we go, do you worry about movies this kind of size being in theaters after the pandemic? Even before it seemed like there was trouble. This movie seemed like it would have been a fun one to see with a crowd.

I totally agree. And I went into the movies as a young man because I loved to be in that dark room with other people, strangers, and I want us to be back there. And I do think that, especially for me, I traditionally love to go and sneak in and watch my films with a crowd. You learn a tremendous amount from doing that. And I hope that I get to do that someday with You Should Have Left. I think it’s going to be a long time, it’s going to be a retrospective before that actually happens, but yeah, I miss that.

What’s an example of that? Where you watched yourself and learned something with an audience?

Listen, I’ve been to test screenings and marketing screenings, there’s a combination of things. One is that you’re seeing how they react, but then you’re also seeing it through other people’s eyes. It’s a really hard thing to explain. It’s kind of like if you make a piece of music, you record a song, the first time I’ll write and record a song and then I’ll play it for my wife or whoever, I’m now listening through different ears. And then you hear something, oh, I feel like I need more bass, or whatever it happens to be. You feel the same thing in watching a film. You go, oh wow, I don’t know if that scene really works as well as I thought it would. Or maybe that beat could be a little shorter. Or maybe those footsteps need to be brought out. Audiences, and sharing that with them, is very, very important in a filmmaking process, for sure.

You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.