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Diary of a 'Hollow Man'

Part 2 of Kevin Bacon’s journal on the making of the film

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Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi thriller — ”the hardest thing I’ve done” — hits some unexpected snags, and nerves begin to fray. A first-person exclusive. Part 2 of 2

Last week: When he signed on to play the invisible villain of Paul Verhoeven’s Hollow Man in early 1999, Kevin Bacon knew he ”was in for an experience unlike anything in my 20-plus years as an actor.” He realized that the long, complicated shoot in Los Angeles would mean a protracted separation from his wife, actress Kyra Sedgwick, and his children, 11-year-old Travis and 8-year-old Sosie. But he didn’t bank on humiliating nude cyberscans, weeks of being spray-painted green, blue, or black, and suffocating hours spent trapped in a latex mask that smelled of rotten eggs. To add injury to insult, on June 14, 1999, almost two months into shooting, his costar Elisabeth Shue tore her Achilles tendon, forcing a six-week shutdown and leaving Bacon wondering if his stint as the Hollow Man would ever end.

06/19/99

Once again I’m on the plane to NYC. I’m becoming frighteningly familiar to the flight attendants, Admirals Club employees, and bartenders. This last week has been so odd, shooting out of sequence. With Lisa [Shue]’s delay, we have jumped ahead in the script, so it’s important for me to get my bearings in terms of where the character is and what stage of his descent into evil he has reached.

I spoke to Lisa yesterday. She’s been in terrible pain and has been taking some serious drugs. She assured me that she was an athlete and the estimates on her recovery were conservative.

After the initial shock of how 6 weeks of downtime would affect our family, I have reconciled myself to not finishing the film until the middle of November. One of the survival skills that one learns in moviemaking is turning ”a total disaster” into ”a blessing in disguise.”

The flight today will put me on the ground at about 2 a.m. New York time. I should be climbing into bed with my beautiful wife at 3 or 4. I saw the kids not 5 days ago, but the combination of a Loudon Wainwright CD and watching Affliction on the plane has made me miss them terribly. I will fly back to L.A. on Sunday with Sosie and we will stay until Kyra and Trav come out. Then we will go home to nest and wait to begin Hollow Man again.

06/24/99

Today is our last day. What a strange feeling to shut down in the middle. Cinemus interruptus. This has been a rough week. My friend Jocelyn said I must feel like I’m being buried alive. Two days ago I made the mistake of wearing the mask straight through lunch. 13 hours. Finally they pulled the plug before the scene was over because it was obvious that I couldn’t stand it anymore. The kids are here on the set and that’s great. I was complaining in the trailer earlier, and Sosie said, ”Daddy, don’t you remember how happy you were when you got this movie? You and Mommy were jumping up and down and screaming in the living room.” She’s absolutely right.