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May 26, 2011

‘X-Men: First Class’: Kevin Bacon on the insults (and insights) of Matthew Vaughn

Posted in: Movies

Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw in "X-Men: First Class." (20th Century Fox)

Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw in "X-Men: First Class." (20th Century Fox)

Matthew Vaughn can be a loose cannon in interviews, but according to veteran actor Kevin Bacon, the director of “X-Men: First Class” is more of a cruel sharpshooter on the set.

“He’s not gentle in the way he directs, to say the least,” said Bacon, who stars in the June 3 release from Fox. “Matthew would sit by the monitor and shout something that’s borderline insulting. But every time he said something — or screamed something — it was right on the mark.”

In the period film, Bacon portrays mutant mastermind Sebastian Shaw, a megalomaniacal villain who is hoping to escalate the JFK-era Cold War into a full-on nuclear firefight. The movie is the latest entry in Fox’s franchise based on the X-Men and their mutant melodrama, which became a signature publishing sensation for Marvel Comics, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. Vaughn’s entry is the fifth feature in the lucrative series and the first big-budget studio film for the director behind the incendiary indies “Kick-Ass” and “Layer Cake.”

Bacon, of course, has worked with a world-class list of directors — Clint Eastwood, Oliver Stone, Curtis Hanson, Ron Howard, Herbert Ross and Barry Levinson among them — and it’s easy to imagine him rolling his eyes at a relatively unproven filmmaker popping off in front of the crew. Just the opposite, though, Bacon said Vaughn was candid, not crass, and showed “amazing vision and ideas” in putting together a film that had impressive sprawl and story cohesion, considering the project was on an accelerated schedule. [FOR THE RECORD, 2:15 p.m. May 13, 2011: An earlier version of this post incorrectly included David Cronenberg as a director that Bacon had worked with in the past.]

'X-Men: First Class' premiere

“I was really pleased when I saw the final film,” Bacon said. “I’m very pleased to be in it, too, to say the least.”

Bacon chuckled when asked if Vaughn was the sort of director who offered nonstop guidance.

“He’s not like a ball coach, he’s not talking all the time,” the 52-year-old actor said. “I could shoot an entire day and do a bunch of takes and he wouldn’t say anything. So it’s not like he’s constantly on you. There are directors who say a lot because they like the sound of themselves directing. They think that’s what directors do. He doesn’t have any of that.  He doesn’t do a lot of takes. He does zero in on things. I remember once he yelled, ‘Stop twirling your mustache!’ And it was totally on point. I was starting to get into some kind of idea of villainy and not staying true to who Sebastian was. As an actor, I can appreciate that.”

– Geoff Boucher

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