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Writer/director John Logan On Why No One Else Could Take Kevin Bacon's Place In They/Them – Exclusive

Kevin Bacon has played all sorts of characters over the course of his nearly 45-year career. From the rebellious Ren McCormack in "Footloose" and creature-killing Val McKee in "Tremors" to a robber on the run in "The River Wild" and a paroled pedophile in "The Woodsman," the veteran actor has played both good guys and bad guys.

So it isn't a stretch for Bacon to play a paradoxical owner of a gay conversion camp in the LGBTQ-focused slasher flick "They/Them" (pronounced "They-Slash-Them"), which is now streaming exclusively on Peacock. As Owen Whistler, Bacon comes across as welcoming at first but quickly shows his true colors as he and the other counselors try to change queer kids' sexual orientations and gender identities while a killer runs amok.

It's a role that "They/Them" writer and director John Logan wrote specifically with Bacon in mind — and the Oscar-nominated screenwriter and first-time director explained why no one else could take the actor's place during an exclusive interview with Looper.

Kevin Bacon has a 'genius quality' when it comes to acting

Logan is no stranger to working with high-profile stars, having penned Ridley Scott's "Gladiator," Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator," and Sam Mendes' James Bond films, "Skyfall" and "Spectre." But "They/Them" is Logan's first foray into directing, so he has an extra-special bond with the film — and there was just one actor he saw playing the lead role.

"I've known Kevin for a few years, and I've always wanted to work with him," says Logan. "When I started writing this script, I kept thinking of Kevin. I kept hearing his voice and thinking of him because of that genius quality he has to go from absolute charm to absolute icy, frightening demon on a dime. That's what the character is, so I couldn't shake Kevin when I was writing it."

But even though he wrote the character with Bacon in mind, that didn't mean it would actually come to fruition — but it did. "Usually, in movies, you have an actor in mind that never actually works out, but I called Kevin and said, 'Okay, well, I've written this movie. There's a part for you. I hope you like it,' and thankfully, he did," Logan explains.

For Logan, it was a dream come true, and he thinks Bacon nailed the role. "We decided on the first day that we wanted to film Owen's opening speech to the kids," says Logan. "The very first time our actors saw Kevin, it was walking through that door in character as Owen Whistler, telling them these are the rules of the game. On a meta cinematic level, that's a five-page speech he gives, and he was word-perfect every time. It was almost saying to young actors, 'This is how a professional does their job. Show up prepared.'"

"They/Them" is now streaming exclusively on Peacock.