No degrees of separation for Kevin Bacon from ‘City on a Hill’

Rick's Reviews

Aldis Hodge (left) and Kevin Bacon star in Showtime’s “City on a Hill.” (Photo courtesy of Showtime)

(KGET) — Kevin Bacon already had plenty on his plate starring in the crime drama “City on a Hill.” Despite the fact it had been more than a decade since he had directed an episode of a television series, Bacon decided to take on the added work of directing the second season opener of his Showtime series.

The reason he felt confident enough to tackle the extra duties came out of what he had learned during his time working on the first season of the series that is based on the true story of early 1990s Boston facing major crime issues. Bacon looked at the first season as the homework he needed to direct an episode. Along with being very familiar with the characters, he fully understood the tone and look of the show.

The television series where he did his last TV directing was “The Closer.” In that case, all he had to do was worry about what was happening behind the camera as he did not star in that series.

Bacon’s role in “City on a Hill” is massive and that meant having to direct himself. That was never a problem.

“Having lived in the first season in Jackie’s skin, I like to think that if I really understand a character. You can kind of throw anything at me and I can just live in that moment as that guy.,” Bacon says. “And, so, going back and forth between being behind the camera, in front of the camera, was pretty seamless for me.

“I mean, it’s a lot of work.  I’m not going to lie about that.  But it felt good, and it felt energizing.  And aside from everything else, just for me to kick off a season having that kind of a challenge was really great.  I loved it.”

His work can be seen at 10 p.m. March 28 when the second season opens on the premium channel. It will move to the 9 p.m. time slot starting April 18.

In the series, Assistant District Attorney Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) forms an unlikely alliance with corrupt – but highly regarded – FBI veteran Jackie Rhodes (Kevin Bacon) to take on a case that has a major impact on Boston’s criminal justice system. The new season of “City on a Hill” centers on a federal housing project in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston that is plagued with drug violence and a rightful distrust in local law enforcement.

The key to being able to direct and act for Bacon was to continue doing what he had done in the first season. That means playing a character who has little regard for the line between good and bad.

“I think that my responsibility is to stay true to who Jackie is.  I’ve heard people say to me things like ‘Well, Jackie kicks (expletive deleted)’ or ‘Jackie gets it done.’  And these are not things that I personally feel about the man,” Bacon says. “He’s not really a person that I would either like or respect or want to spend time with or any of those things.

“He’s a self‑admitted (expletive deleted) in so many ways.  But I don’t really think about that.  I just want to stay true to who he is.  It’s up to everybody else to make judgments about what they either find interesting or not or agree with or whatever.  I kind of feel like if you think that Jackie is doing the right thing, you probably need to check yourself, and frankly, that’s on you.”

Finding the way to play a character is nothing new for the Philadelphia native as he has been working on TV and in films since 1979 when he was on the daytime drama of “Search for Tomorrow.” His credits since then include “Diner,” “Footloose,” “Flatliners” and “X-Men: First Class.” He won a Golden Globe for the TV movie “Taking Chance.”

His role on “City on a Hill” is just the latest example of why Bacon loves acting so much. He loves how wide ranging the characters have been over the years.

“One of the things that I like about being an actor is being able to share all different aspects of the possibility of human beings.  I don’t really think about my own personal image when I take on a role,” Bacon says. “I just want to step into the shoes of a man that I haven’t stepped into before, and I get a chance to do that.

“I feel incredibly grateful for the fact that I’m not just, you know, the action guy or the funny guy or the romantic guy or even the bad guy although I’ve got to be careful with that one.  I’m starting to turn into that.”

Season two of “City on a Hill” also stars Lauren E. Banks, Mark O’Brien, Amanda Clayton, Matthew Del Negro and Jill Hennessy.

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