How I'm Living Now: Kevin Bacon, 'City on a Hill' Star

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With the coronavirus keeping Bacon in L.A. with wife Kyra Sedgwick and son Travis, he opens up about up his chicken specialty (olives and prunes), bingeing 'Tiger King' and launching a viral movement with #IStayHomeFor.

With production grinding to a halt in the face of the novel coronavirus, the entertainment industry has found itself navigating uncharted territory. To offer a better sense for how, The Hollywood Reporter is running a regular series that focuses on how Hollywood's top writers, actors, directors, executives and more are living and working in these challenging times.

Kevin Bacon had been filming the second season of Showtime’s City on a Hill and keeping up with his Spotify comedy podcast The Last Degree of Kevin Bacon when the pandemic first hit. On Friday, March 13, he was still in New York, recording songs with his band, the Bacon Brothers, when it became clear he needed to get back to Los Angeles to be with his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, and son, Travis. Their actress daughter, Sosie, lives in L.A. as well. Since then, they've kept a small circle — just the trio at home while Sosie practices social distancing — and a focus on gratitude for having a place to live, food to eat, a dog to walk and a viral movement to promote. After sharing with his 1.1 million Instagram followers that Sedgwick is who he stays home for, stars like David Beckham, Elton John, Mariah Carey, Ellen DeGeneres and Demi Lovato have all followed his lead to promote #IStayHomeFor to help flatten the curve. 

So, what does your day look like now?

I'm an early riser and usually the first one up. I make coffee and figure it out. We’re grateful to have instruments, so I play or work on a song with the rest of the guys and just, bam, pass the files around. I'm not a big reader but sometimes we'll read. We talk and try to communicate as much as possible, but there’s now a balancing act with communicating as to not bring each other down with doom and gloom. I've learned to not jump at sharing something that pops up across the feed and say, “Oh, shit,” from across the room. I meditate, and I generally take a nap [laughs]. We do a lot of cleaning because we’re trying to keep everything as sanitized as we can, doorknobs and all that. I find time to exercise. We don't have some giant, big place so there’s no gym or anything, but I have plenty of apps. I have a kettlebell so I use apps for that. Obviously, we do a lot of cooking.

Do you have a specialty?

I do have a specialty, in fact. A friend of mine just asked me for the recipe. My specialty is chicken with olives and prunes — or sometimes I use olives and dates — and it's got a lot of wine in it. It just kinda falls off the bone. Chicken is very hard to get these days. But listen, I'm not like a recipe guy. I'm an open up the refrigerator or the pantry and make something kinda guy. That's been good because you're not going to go to the supermarket to get peppercorn if you don't have it. We're trying to use what we have. I'm in this mode of using all the leftovers — nothing gets thrown out. 

What’s the best advice you’ve given or received about staying sane right now?

People have got a lot more time, and I'm seeing a lot of people posting on social media, sharing what they're creating, like a painting or songs or anything. Creative people need to create. But there's also points where I'll have a day and I just go, "I'm stuck. And that's OK." I don't want people to beat themselves up because they didn't paint the Mona Lisa during the coronavirus. There are times when you live with this kind of stress and you just kind of find yourself staring at the wall. We need to let ourselves off the hook for that. 

What’s been the easiest or the hardest adjustment?

The hardest adjustment is to have somebody that you love and care for — like my daughter being in town — and not really being able to see her and just give her a hug. That's a tough one.

What have you learned about yourself in this period?

It's easy to go down the road of bitterness or go further down the road of gratitude. This is a real test and will continue to be a real test for choosing one path. It's not an either/or situation, sometimes they converge but I have felt way more gratitude for what we have. I feel that the sacrifices we've made as an American society are, for many people out there, such small sacrifices compared to the sacrifices so many other people are making and will continue to make. I just feel very, very, very, very, very grateful.

What are you watching, reading, playing or listening to as a reprieve?

I love Tiger King. The new season of Better Things. I've enjoyed ZeroZeroZero; it's getting pretty dark. Of course, I adored the second season of Narcos: Mexico because Sosie Bacon is amazing in it. Sometimes I go down the YouTube rabbit hole with old rock performances. I find a band I love or have been listening to a lot and the autoplay is on and it just automatically jumps to another thing based on your algorithm and it can really just go on and on and on. 

Tiger King is a popular answer these days.

I don't want it to end.

What or who have become your go-to news source during this period?

I read the New York Times every morning. When I'm in New York, I get a Sunday hard copy but we don't have that here in L.A.. So, I read the digital copy of the New York Times not on the app but the actual digital edition. I'll read every word of it. I listen every day to The Daily. It's incredibly good. Then I really don't check back in with news until the PBS New Hour, which, to me, is the best. At night, we don't really dig into the news. We put some music on. 

How would you describe your corona-era wardrobe?

Jimmy Kimmel really made me laugh when I was watching one of his broadcasts at home and he was talking about it being mandatory to put pants on at some point in the day. That really made me laugh. No judgments. Kyra actually goes through two or three outfits a day. I do like to get dressed. I like the feeling of getting dressed because that means, at a certain point probably after dinner, that I will appreciate the fact that I'm getting back into sweats even more.

And what’s atop your to-do list once this is all over? I would imagine probably hugging your daughter is one of them.

Yeah, hugging my daughter. Getting back to work. I want all of us to get back to work. I want the crews to get back to work. I'm hoping people will be hungry for some content. I love acting and I love making the show. What remains to be seen is how we react once we get through this. I can't even really guess.

In these times, what cause is most important to you?

Certainly, SixDegrees.Org. Also, hunger is a big issue. We live in a country where our sisters and brothers and children are going hungry. Being New Yorkers — we are lucky to be bicoastal at this point — we love the Food Bank of New York. On a national scale, No Kid Hungry is a great organization. 

This viral movement has been a bright light in this because it's had real impact with a focus on humanity and why people should stay home. Where did you get the idea?

With the six degrees of Kevin Bacon thing, it was kind of a natural fit … but that’s also never been about Kevin Bacon. I started thinking that if you'd take me out of it, it becomes a really important idea and the idea is twofold. One, we are all on this planet together — whether we like it or not, we're all riding in the same boat, right? Building walls and separating people based on ideology is never going to ultimately work because what happens on one side of the world affects people on the other side. That's just the way it is. The virus is the extremely frightening version of that. We see that everybody now knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody and it spreads through that connectivity. The other piece to me is that we're hungry for connection. I'm not going to give myself credit, it’s not like I woke up one day and came up with a hashtag. I worked with a lot of really good, smart people, both in our organization, SixDegrees.Org, and part of a group. We wanted to hit on what it means to stay home, while also recognizing there's a lot of people who can't stay home, hospital workers or first-responders. I was in New York on 9/11 and there was a real feeling of, "What do I do? What can I do?" A lot of people's first instinct is to try to find a way to help. This is a weird one because one of the best ways to help is stay home.  

During a CBS interview, you mentioned the 97-year-old man who said he stays home for himself. Has there been any other that have really moved you? 

I'm thrilled that all of the celebrities have jumped on board. It may seem like based on the amount of movies I've made that everyone is in my phone, but that's not the case. I don't go on vacation with celebrities, you know what I mean? I don't live that kind of life. But this thing has really taken off and the support from celebrities has been completely overwhelming. It's caught on from people from all over the world and I've been seeing everyone sharing stories — from old people to these little, little kids. I look at them through the hashtag and they are absolutely inspirational. It's beautiful. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

#IStayHomeFor @kikkosedg! Hey everybody, it’s now so important to stay home and keep our distance from others if you are able. It’s one way we can help prevent the spread of #Coronavirus and save lives. The more of us who can, make it safer for those who can’t. So if you’re home too like me, post a video or photo with a sign like mine, telling who you are staying home for and ask 6 friends to do the same. Post it with the hashtag #IStayHomeFor so I can see and share. The more folks involved, the merrier - We’re all connected by various degrees (Trust me, I know!) I’m kicking it off with @jimmyfallon @eltonjohn @Brandicarlile @kevinhart4real @ddlovato @davidbeckham - but I encourage YOU ALL to join in too! Let’s use this 6 Degree thing to do some good! . . . . #Corona #Coronavirus #StayHome #StaySafe #6Degrees #ThinkingOfYou #SpreadTheWord

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