Horror movie's director says age difference represents an "irreconcilable problem" in fictional couple's marriage.
Credit: Universal

The internet's collective eyebrows were recently raised at the revelation that, despite their 27-year age difference, Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried play a married couple in the horror movie You Should Have Left (out Thursday). There was a time when it was routine for studios to pair seasoned male stars with much younger actresses, as happened in High Noon with Grace Kelly and the three-decades-older Gary Cooper. These days, that trope has, for the most part, been consigned to the dustbin of Hollywood history — or so we thought. What gives? Well, in fact, the age difference between Bacon, 61, and Seyfried, 34, is very much a plot point in writer-director David Koepp's movie, one which adds another layer of stress and drama to this tale of a couple who rent a haunted house in rural Wales.

"Kevin and I wanted to do another scary movie together for some time," says Koepp, who previously directed Bacon in 1999's Stir of Echoes. "We started talking about a story about a marriage that would have this sort of irreconcilable problem in it, that he’s much too old for her. It’s a fascinating dynamic and we’ve seen it in movies a lot, but it’s usually ignored. Grace Kelly was 21 in High Noon and nobody said a word about it. We wanted to say, 'Well, hang on, what if we do that and it’s presented form the very beginning as the problem in this relationship? What tensions and suspicions would arise because of that?"

Bacon himself explains he had no problem appearing in a film where the maturity of his years is repeatedly referenced.

"The age discrepancy was a very specific thing," says Bacon. "It was something that was talked about from the first time that we started discussing what the story could be, that this would be his second marriage, that he would have had a past, and that there was this kind of nagging doubt that he has about this relationship. One of the things that we really wanted to lean into was this kind of digital generational gap, where he just doesn’t get being on the phone all the time, and she does. I also think that it speaks to the doubts that this man is having about not being in his sexual prime, about whether or not he still has any kind of relevance."

"And also, [the character is] an actress," continues the actor who, in real life, is married to The Closer star Kyra Sedgwick. "I know that being married to an actress, or an actor, it has its challenges, especially if you’re not in the industry. Because the person goes off and has these very intimate relationships with a crew and spends 12, 14, 18 hours a day with these people and this cast. If you’re not connected to that, it can really eat at you. so these were very specific things that we wanted to lay in. These are all things that were very specifically laid in by David."

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