‘Death Sentence’ explores revenge

Kelly Preston admittedly wrestled with a decision to appear in James Wan’s gritty, violent new movie, “Death Sentence.”

“It took me a couple of weeks to decide to do it because it’s really a dark movie,” she said in a recent interview at a hotel in Beverly Hills to promote the movie, which opens Friday.

Kevin Bacon stars as a father who seeks revenge after one of his sons is murdered. Preston plays Bacon’s wife. In real life, she’s married to John Travolta and they have two kids. Preston says she was able to shift gears and immerse herself in the role when she thought how she’d react if her own family was in a similar situation.

“What fascinated me about the movie was that Kevin’s character had completely lost his moral compass,” says Preston. “The decisions he made changed his and his family’s course. This film really does thrust you into this world in such a visceral way and poses the question ‘What would you do?’ But it also makes the point, and this is what struck out to me most, was ultimately, that violence beckons more violence. I also knew that Kevin would do something interesting with the story arc and that’s what convinced me.”

Wan agrees about Bacon, calling him “an actor who could pull off playing a lighter and darker side. Kevin can play good and bad in equal and amazing measures.”

For his role, Bacon used a familiar approach. He says, “My motto is: use yourself and lose yourself. When it comes to using myself, I’ve got kids and have incredibly strong feelings about them and about family. That’s a river that runs as deep as it comes. I would hope that I wouldn’t react in this kind of way that my character does. I don’t know. Preparation for me is a back story for the character. Where did I grow up? How many brothers and sisters do I have? What’s my religion? What’s my favorite food? What’s my favorite color? Even silly little mundane things. I write an autobiography about the guy. Then I start to see how all that internal history about him manifests itself.”

Still, Bacon appreciates that Wan didn’t make his character “heroic.” “The film is not about glorifying violence,” he says. “No one really wins in this revenge game.”

Wan’s goal was to make sure that the movie’s violence remains “ugly” for the audience. He says, “When they see it they go, ‘whoa, that’s not cool.’ However, I still tried to balance that message by making an entertaining and thought-provoking film.”

Contact Lana K. Wilson-Combs at www.N2Entertainment.net.

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