Sosie Bacon Discusses Capturing Millennial Angst in ‘Here and Now’ and Tapping Into the Zeitgeist
Sosie Bacon is becoming one of those actresses whose roles capture a specific moment in the zeitgeist. Having appeared on shows like Netflix’s “Thirteen Reasons Why” and now featured prominently in HBO’s “Here and Now,” Bacon is becoming adept at conveying personalities culled from everyday life. In “Here and Now,” created by “American Beauty” Oscar-winner Alan Ball, she plays Kristen Bayer-Boatwright, the middle class daughter of a depressed philosopher (Tim Robbins) and a crisis solver who tries a little too hard to show off her progressive credentials (Holly Hunter), Kristen is their only natural child, her other siblings are Duc (Raymond Lee), who is Vietnamese and a sex-addicted motivational speaker, Ashley (Jerrika Hinton) who is black, runs an online retail outlet and pretends her marriage is just fine, and Ramon (Daniel Zovatto) who is Colombian, gay, a game designer and starts having strange visions revolving around the number eleven.
Bacon recently sat down with Entertainment Voice to discuss playing a role that captures the times in liberal suburbia and her upcoming role in another, highly anticipated series.
“I’ve played pretty realistic characters. I try to just completely get into their whole life prior to this moment,” said Bacon. “For Kristen, she’s realistic in a sense and the writing is so good that every line that she says is a clue into her insecurities and what she perceives as her failures.”
Bacon avoids seeking direct influences when preparing for a role which is essentially a person you could bump into in any contemporary, American city. “Of course I knew people who behave the way she does, and certain things she does I can completely relate to. I’m older than she is, but I was a teenager fairly recently and totally understand why she does the things she does.” For Bacon the character captures accurately a funny attitude in contemporary middle class culture. “She’s super self-centered, she’s a teenager. She has no idea how her privilege has helped her in the world. She just hates being white and thinks that it’s lame without understanding what it’s like to be anything else.”
For Bacon working with Alan Ball himself was quite the memorable experience. “I’ve been a fan of his for so long. I loved ‘Six Feet Under,’ ‘True Blood’ and ‘American Beauty,’ you know, all these things. I was sort of nervous about working with him because he’s this sort of big person you’ve been hearing about for years and years. But the thing about Alan is that he’s just great at what he does.” Bacon described the writing as so detailed that getting into the character was an easy move, especially with a director so attuned to the world of the series. “He directed in a way that is unique and fun and not at all aggressive, just very gentle and very much ‘I trust you, I trust what you’re doing.’ I wish I could work with him as a director forever.”
There is real chemistry in the series between Bacon’s character and her siblings, with an air that never feels unnatural. “Sometimes it’s just magic and you all get along so well, and it just becomes this family almost instantly. That’s what happened. We all wanted to be close, we wanted to be friends. We hang out all the time. We’re hanging out this weekend. That’s a huge part of why I love this job honestly, because of those relationships you can build.”
“Here and Now” has memorable set pieces in which Ball conveys the quirks and bitter moments of youth with an almost surreal air. In the pilot Kristen wanders around a party wearing a horse head, by impulse leaving with a clueless male model and giving her virginity to him. “The whole horse head thing was a total draw, because it was so fun and so weird, it encapsulated how f—ked up losing your virginity can be before you’re ready. For sure she wasn’t ready, she just wants so bad to be liked that she’ll do anything. I knew people were going to either hate it or love it.”
In a sense Bacon’s role captures the modern suburban teen fully, living in a time where technology is merging with a search for identity within a culture undergoing many transitions. “On the one hand we’re giving kids all this responsibility of having technology and having control over their image in a very public way, and I think we’re also having this cultural amnesia as an older generation where we forget that these are just kids,” said Bacon. “Kids are going to mess up, that’s been happening for ages. There’s a lot being said about this generation when the reality is they’re kids and they’re figuring it out. But they’re doing great things like all of these teenagers going up against the NRA. Could that have happened 20 years ago? No. It’s because of the kids.”
Bacon recently wrapped shooting on the second season of another seminal show about the modern youth experience, Netflix’s “Thirteen Reasons Why.” “I finished shooting a long time ago, I haven’t seen any of it. It’s coming out soon, I think in June, I shouldn’t be quoted on that but I probably will. But my character definitely fills out in the second season, it’s got a lot of cool stuff in it. That character is also one where she’s just complicated. There’s a lot of power in wanting to be liked and be respected.”
When pressed for more details Bacon could only smile and warn, “you’re really trying to get me in trouble, aren’t you?”
“Here and Now” Season 1 premiered Feb. 11 and airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.