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Last Updated: Friday, 18 February, 2005, 16:07 GMT
Bacon: paedophiles 'are not monsters'
Kevin Bacon in The Woodsman
The Woodsman is regarded as one of Bacon's best performances
Actor Kevin Bacon has said that it is misleading for films to "100 percent demonise" paedophiles, following his performance in controversial film The Woodsman.

In the film, which won top honours at the London Film Festival last year, Bacon plays a convicted paedophile trying to rebuild his life after 12 years in jail.

The actor told the BBC that it was important to recognise that the sexual abuse of children is a very complex theme, and that paedophiles are not simple "monsters".

"These guys don't have horns, they're not monsters," he told the BBC.

"If they were monsters we could send a superhero out to kill them, or a guy with a big sword - and that would make life a lot easier.

"The reality is much, much more frightening than that - they are friends of the family, in our churches, in our schools, riding on the bus next to us."

'Traditional approach'

The Woodsman is not the first time Bacon has played a paedophile.

In the 1996 film Sleepers, which also starred Brad Pitt and Robert De Niro, he played a prison guard who abuses young boys.

Kevin Bacon in The Woodsman
I never set out to make him sympathetic - I only set out to make him human
Kevin Bacon

However, Bacon said that in the nine years since Sleepers was released, the depiction of paedophiles on screen has changed - The Woodsman's Walter is not "demonised" as Sleepers' Sean Noakes is.

"[Sean Noakes] really is an awful, awful character," said Bacon.

"Sleepers is, I think, a great film, but it is a more traditional approach to this issue."

But Bacon stressed that in playing the character of Walter he was not "acting" sympathetically.

"I couldn't walk through the door being sympathetic - I just don't know how to do it as an actor," he stressed.

"I never set out to make him sympathetic - I only set out to make him human, and the audience will hopefully make their own decision about whether they empathise with him or not."

No redemption

The reaction towards Walter changes throughout the film, as he interacts with other characters and new details come to light.

When he read the screenplay, Bacon found his feelings "bouncing all over the walls".

"I thought if we could do that, take an audience on that kind of journey over the course of two hours, we might have something cool."

However, Bacon added that there is no moment of redemption typical of this sort of film.

"There is a glimmer of hope, and I think that for Walter, the journey is to start taking responsibility for his life and for his victims, and to truly be honestly confronting that within his soul," he added.

"It's not something that he left behind in prison, which I think is what he thinks - he's going to have to live with this.

"It's that moment that gives the only kind of glimmer of hope for him - but who knows? It's not that kind of movie."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Kevin Bacon explains why he took on the role



SEE ALSO:
Controversial film tops festival
05 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
Actors' union seizes film rights
22 Jul 04 |  Entertainment
Bacon gets Fame star
02 Oct 03 |  Entertainment


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