How Kevin Bacon Became the Center of Hollywood

Kevin Bacon danced his way into our lives as a rebellious teenager foot-loosing around a warehouse. But four decades later, Bacon has proved he’s a lot more than an ‘80s heartthrob. He’s the muse behind a humorous game, has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and is the leading man in the new 2020 film, You Should Have Left.

Kevin Bacon Footloose - 1984
Kevin Bacon Footloose – 1984. Photo by Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

His career has been nothing less than tumultuous, and he knows perfectly well how deceptive fame can be. Luckily, he seems to have risen above all his hardships (even if he anxiously collapsed on the sidewalk a few times). Here are some surprising facts about this versatile actor, including the answer to the most heated question – does Kevin even like bacon?

Bacon Flew His Home at the Age of 17

Kevin Bacon was born on July 8th, 1958, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The youngest of six kids, he was born into a large, warm family with two hard-working parents. His mom was a teacher and a liberal activist, and his dad was a famous architect whom people often called “The Father of Modern Philadelphia.”

Kevin Bacon and Michael Bacon Bacon Brothers in Concert, Hollywood, America - 01 Aug 2003
Kevin Bacon and Michael Bacon Bacon Brothers in Concert, Hollywood, America – 01 Aug 2003. Photo by Jim Smeal/BEI/Shutterstock

At the early age of 16, Bacon was given a scholarship to attend Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts at Bucknell University. It was there that he discovered his true love for acting, and after a five-week theater program, he felt like he had found his purpose in life. Fast forward one year later, and 17-year-old Bacon was on his way to New York to try his hand in Broadway.

He Was Cleaning Tables When His First Movie Premiered

Bacon was still in acting school and working as a waiter when he landed the role of Chip Diller in the 1978 film Animal House, so you can imagine just how ecstatic he was when he got the part. He threw his apron aside and proudly exclaimed, “I’m a movie star!”

Kevin Bacon Footloose - 1984
Kevin Bacon Footloose – 1984. Photo by Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

Funny enough, when the movie premiered, Bacon was back to cleaning tables. Why? The rising star had spent all the money he made on the film in about a week. So, on the night of the premiere, Bacon had to ask for a night off from work to go see himself on the silver screen. Overall, the evening was a humbling experience for the young actor and taught him a lot about how showbiz works.

Not Hot Enough for Footloose

Who didn’t look for a warehouse to let off some steam after watching Bacon on Footloose? To be fair, he wasn’t the one dancing in that scene, but still, his role in the classic ‘80s movie remains one of his most memorable ones to date. Surprisingly, the studio’s executive, Dawn Steel, didn’t want to hire him at first.

Kevin Bacon Footloose - 1984
Kevin Bacon Footloose – 1984. Photo by Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

His reason? Bacon wasn’t enough of a Hollywood heartthrob, in his opinion. He preferred someone like Tom Cruise or Rob Lowe for the part of Ren. But the movie’s producer had faith in the young actor, and after a series of dance rehearsals, he knew Bacon was the one.

Bullied in High School

This is an admirable yet creepy move by Bacon. When he landed the role of sarcastic teenager Ren McCormack in Footloose, he was 24, and his high school years were far behind him. So, in preparation for the role, Bacon decided to enroll himself in school again and spy on the kids.

Lori Singer, Kevin Bacon Footloose - 1984
Lori Singer, Kevin Bacon Footloose – 1984. Photo by Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

He went undercover in a Utah high school for one day and said that the experience was incredibly eye-opening. “People made fun of my tie, made fun of my hair, made fun of the whole thing.” But it wasn’t all bad. Bacon said that apart from being bullied, there was one kid who stood up for him and stuck by his side all through the day.

The Footloose Crew Was Wild

The process of filming Footloose was life imitating art at it’s finest. In the movie, a witty newcomer arrives in high school and immediately stands out from all the rest. And such was the case when the enthusiastic cast from Hollywood arrived in Utah. A lot of locals raised eyebrows and didn’t trust the fresh meat in town.

Kevin Bacon Footloose - 1984
Kevin Bacon Footloose – 1984. Photo by Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

They became the center of attention, and for a good reason. The crew was partying hard. Bacon mentioned, “I don’t think we were completely trusted… a lot of people thought we were doing the devil’s work. There were reports of skinny-dipping in the hotel pool, illicit sex, and drugs – all of which were true – but the community was really uncomfortable with us.”

It Went Downhill After Footloose

After the success of Footloose, Bacon found himself swarmed with offers. It was a pivotal moment for the rising star, but his choices at the time weren’t the best. He was a proud 24-year-old that wasn’t interested in hiring a manager to advise him on what to do. Today he admits that he should have made other choices.

Footloose, Kevin Bacon
Footloose, Kevin Bacon. Photo by Moviestore/Shutterstock

In an interview for The Guardian, Bacon admitted, “Then, all of a sudden, I was a pop star. I was on the cover of Seventeen, People, Us. But the choices that I started to make after Footloose were ill-advised. I didn’t have a manager. I wasn’t going to pay someone another 15 percent to tell me what to do — I know what to do. As a result, it was almost like self-sabotage.”

The Turning Point in His Career

Bacon’s role in the 1991 drama JFK was a memorable one. He played the part of Willie O’Keefe, a gay hustler with a strong and notable personality. Bacon was glad to have the opportunity to show Hollywood he was a lot more than a footloose pretty boy. He views this movie as a turning point in his career.

JFK, Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Michael Rooker
JFK, Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Michael Rooker. Photo by Moviestore/Shutterstock

Bacon claims that one line, in particular, is widely remembered by his fans – the moment when Willie says to district attorney Jim Garrison, “You don’t know sh*t Mr. Garrison, because you’ve never been f***cked in the a**.” Bacon had to record a cleaner version of it, and it’s pretty entertaining: “You don’t know squat Mr. Garrison because you’ve never been loved by a man.”

He Met Kyra When She Was 12 Years Old

Bacon was 19 when 12-year-old Kyra Sedgwick saw him on stage and approached him. She said, “Hi, I just saw the play, I thought you were good.” He responded with, “Aww, thank you, sweetie.” Little did they know that they would fall in love a few years later on the set of the 1988 film Lemon Sky.

Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick
Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick at a celebration for the 1st anniversary of Man Ray, the hippest New York restaurant and bar in New York City, on July 10, 2002. Photo by Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock

They’ve been married for 32 years, and Kevin says that Kyra is the one to thank for their amazing communication. “She demands a level of openness from me. It’s all thoughts and feelings with her, that’s her approach with us, whether it’s with my son, daughter, or me. Communication is something she brought to us as a family, 100%.”

He Lost His Life Savings to Bernie Madoff

2008 was a disastrous year for Kevin and Kyra. The illusion that their investments were profiting them faded, and they were left with the cold hard truth that they had been schemed all along by a man named Bernie Madoff. They never spoke out about the amount of money they invested in his so-called “Investment Securities LLC,” but Bacon admitted it was in the millions.

Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Elizabeth Stone, Oliver Stone
Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Elizabeth Stone, Oliver Stone ‘JFK’ Premiere December 17, 1991. Photo by Bei/Shutterstock

The couple didn’t let it tear them down completely. “It was a bad day, an absolutely horrible feeling, but you roll up your sleeves and get back to work. What else are you going to do? There are a lot of people who had it a lot worse than we did.” A lot of Bacon’s life savings were basically flushed down the toilet, but he kept his head high and didn’t sink into self-pity.

Bacon Couldn’t Stand Being Just Another John Doe

We’re trying not to get offended here. It isn’t that bad to be just another face in the crowd, is it? Well, according to Bacon, it is. He spent a whole day disguised as an ordinary civilian and didn’t enjoy it all. He explained, “People kind of looked right through me and weren’t nice.” Welcome to the real world, Kevin.

Kevin Bacon and Paul Newman 'THE WOODSMAN'
Kevin Bacon and Paul Newman ‘THE WOODSMAN’. Photo by Dave Allocca/Starpix/Shutterstock

Many celebrities love to complain about living in the limelight, but Bacon has no intention of parting ways with his luxurious life. He gushed over the fact that “When you’re famous, people give you free s**t for no reason, open doors, put you at good tables in restaurants, and give you tickets to shows.” Are we even living on the same planet as celebrities?

He Finally Changed His Mind About California

Bacon has a love-hate relationship with Los Angeles. According to him, when your movie is successful, and everyone loves you, it’s the best place to be. But when you’re thrown to the curb and forgotten, it’s a dark and isolated city. Ping-ponging between both extremities was far too much for the actor, and he has spent most of his life residing in the Big Apple instead.

Kevin Bacon with children Kevin Bacon visits Harlem Growth Farm, New York
Kevin Bacon with children Kevin Bacon visits Harlem Growth Farm, New York, America – 28 Nov 2015. Photo by Sara Jaye Weiss/Shutterstock

But both Kevin and Kyra’s careers have led them time and again to LA. And after years of renting, they finally bought their own place in the Los Feliz neighborhood. Bacon stands behind his decision, “I don’t know if it’s a function of the neighborhood we’re living in here now or of just growing up and saying, look, you’re an actor. You’re in show business. Deal with it.” He even admits he loves Griffith Park as much as he loves Central Park!

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

It’s hilarious how widespread this game has become. The masterminds behind it are three (probably drunk) college students who saw Bacon on TV and joked about how the guy has played in an infinite number of movies of different genres. Their conclusion? Everyone in the entertainment business knows Kevin Bacon. And if they don’t know him personally, they probably know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows him.

Gary Sinise, Tom Hanks, Kathleen Quinlan, Ed Harris and Kevin Bacon 'Apollo 13' film premiere
Gary Sinise, Tom Hanks, Kathleen Quinlan, Ed Harris, and Kevin Bacon ‘Apollo 13’ film premiere. Photo by Berliner Studio/BEI/Shutterstock

And alas! Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon was born. The premise of it is that any actor, dead or alive, can be connected to Bacon in six degrees or less. The game was invented in good humor, but Bacon thought it was a bit offensive and a way to make fun at his expense. But after he met the game’s creators on The Jon Stewart Show, he realized that the game was actually super fun.

Bacon Inspired the Game…and the Game Inspired Him!

Not many people can say that they’ve inspired a game that has reached this degree of popularity. And Bacon knew he had to turn it into something other than a humorous way to pass the time. He took the game’s concept of interconnectedness and realized that it’s the one thing that can help create a better world.

Neve Campbell, Kevin Bacon, and Denise Richards
Neve Campbell, Kevin Bacon, and Denise Richards. Photo by Bei/Shutterstock

In 2007, Bacon started a charity called Six Degrees, a nonprofit that comes from an understanding that we’re all six degrees of separation (or less) from someone who needs our help. The organization has raised more than $5 million since its creation, and the numbers are constantly rising. Good for Bacon, he’s seriously surpassed himself here.

He’s Never Been Nominated for an Oscar

Bacon calls Oscar season “the bitter season because I sit around and watch everybody else get nominated for Oscars.” It must be hard to play (incredibly well) in award-winning films and not receive the Academy’s recognition. The Guardian agrees, and they named Bacon as one of the best actors to have never received an Oscar.

Kevin Bacon Receives a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. Kevin Bacon Receives a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, America – 30 Sep 2003. Photo by Stewart Cook/Shutterstock

He’s made some poor career choices, yes, but his performances in movies like The Woodsman and Sleepers were beyond impressive. On the bright side, he was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame and won numerous other awards, including a Golden Globe in 2010 for his role in the historical drama, Taking Chance. We’re sure that when it comes down to it, Bacon doesn’t need anyone’s approval to know that he’s good.

Bacon Is Drawn to Dark Things

In Bacon’s latest film, You Should Have Left, he plays the role of Theo, a retired banker who takes his young wife, Susanna (Amanda Seyfried), and their daughter Ella to an isolated house in rural Wales. Theo is repressing the demons from his past, and their family vacation is meant to provide him with some piece of mind. The film’s genre is horror, so even if you haven’t watched it, you can probably guess that Bacon’s character finds no serenity whatsoever in the countryside.

Amanda Seyfried as Susanna Conroy and Kevin Bacon as Theo Conroy
‘You Should Have Left’ Film – 2020. Amanda Seyfried as Susanna Conroy and Kevin Bacon as Theo Conroy. Photo By Nick Wall/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock

Bacon was excited about the role because, according to him, he’s “drawn to dark things,” and related with Theo because he liked the idea of “a guy who feels like he’s on the precipice of losing his power.” Bacon can relate, and not because he’s a man repressing some dark secret from the past, but because he’s realizing that as he ages, things like money and status lose their power, and family and health become way more important.

Filming “You Should Have Left” Was Anything but Scary

Kevin loved filming in the Welsh countryside and said that he instantly knew it was the perfect spot for the movie. This was his first time in the beautiful mountainous terrain, and he said it was everything he imagined it to be. He described the area as having “beautiful, rolling hills, a lot of sheep and very, very interesting and changing weather.”

Avery Essex as Ella Conroy and Kevin Bacon as Theo Conroy
Avery Essex as Ella Conroy and Kevin Bacon as Theo Conroy. Photo By Nick Wall/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock

While the horror movie is full of sleepless nights and weird events, the actor claims that in reality, his time there was unbelievably peaceful and that the nights there were quiet and serene. As for the Welsh accent, Bacon said he barely attempted it because of how bad he sounded, but he found the language to be beautiful.

He Didn’t Want to Play in Tremors

You Should Have Left isn’t the only scary movie in Bacon’s resume. His first taste of horror was in 1980 when he landed a role in the film Friday the 13th. He’s been intrigued by the genre ever since and finds it a lot more interesting, “both as an actor and a consumer.” But not all scary movies were created equal, and there was one, in particular, he didn’t like.

Tremors, Fred Ward, Kevin Bacon
Tremors, Fred Ward, Kevin Bacon. Photo by Moviestore/Shutterstock

Remember Tremors? The ‘90s film about underground worms threatening to take Bacon’s life? That’s the one. He felt it was extremely silly, and the only reason he agreed to do it was to keep his career afloat. But looking back, Bacon admits it was actually a really fun experience. But obviously not fun enough to play in the movie’s sequel.

Horror Movies Eat Away at His Psyche

I think it’s clear that Kevin loves playing in scary movies. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily what’s best for him. He even admitted that “horror roles eat away at your psyche.” He recalled that as he was working on the film, The Following, he was in a dark place. He found it difficult to brush off all the murderous scenes he just filmed and go on with his day like nothing had happened.

Laurie Bartram, Jeannine Taylor, Harry Crosby, Kevin Bacon, Mark Nelson Friday The 13Th - 1980
Laurie Bartram, Jeannine Taylor, Harry Crosby, Kevin Bacon, Mark Nelson Friday The 13Th – 1980. Photo by Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

Even a silly horror movie like Tremors left him sleepwalking for days. He admits he would carry his wife out of the house and out into the street. Kyra would stop him and say, “Honey, you’re asleep. You’re asleep. You’re asleep.” And Bacon would respond with, “No! I have to! They’re coming, they’re coming for us!’” Bacon’s a hero, I mean, just imagine having dreams about worms…night after night.

He Went to Therapy to Overcome His Fear of Public Speaking

This sounds a bit shady. An actor who’s afraid of public speaking? We’re sure anyone who has experienced the dreadful, knee-shaking sensation of standing in front of an audience is probably rolling his eyes right now. But don’t let Kevin’s appearance on screen fool you. He claims that getting into character in front of an audience is a lot different than speaking as himself.

Charlize Theron, Kevin Bacon Trapped – 2002
Charlize Theron, Kevin Bacon Trapped – 2002. Photo by Rafy/Mandolin/Propaganda/Kobal/Shutterstock

He admits, “I don’t even like making toasts. It hits me in a way I can’t really explain. I’ve literally sat with a therapist to try to figure out what that is because I’m such a public persona.” We assume it’s gotten better with the years, but when he was a young star in Footloose, he had to take half a valium to act out the town hall scene!

The Bacon Brothers

Brothers Kevin and Michael Bacon have been playing together ever since they were kids. In 1997, they decided to turn their childhood hobby into a reality when they recorded their first ever album, “Forosco.” The duo considers their music to be a mix of folk-rock and country, and they’ve recorded a total of seven albums.

Kevin Bacon, radio host Birgit Hahn and Michael Bacon
Kevin Bacon, radio host Birgit Hahn and Michael Bacon. Photo By Willi Schneider/Shutterstock

Both brothers sing and play all sorts of instruments. Kevin plays the guitar, harmonica, and percussion, and his brother Michael joins with the cello. Who would have thought that a guy who has inspired a game based on how popular he is has also found the time to form a band and record numerous albums. Insane.

Bacon Suffers Panic Attacks

Anxiety crept up on him when he was 30 and filming the movie Tremors. His wife was pregnant at the time, and his mom was diagnosed with cancer. In addition to all of that, he felt that his career was in a really bad place and that he was running out of money (and of course, he dreamt a lot about worms). His first real panic attack was on the streets of New York.

Tremors, Kevin Bacon, Michael Gross
Tremors, Kevin Bacon, Michael Gross. Photo by Moviestore/Shutterstock

“I broke down and fell to the sidewalk,” Bacon confessed in an interview with The Mirror Online. Eventually, his career took off again, and things never really died down for this successful actor, but the angst never fully subsided. The main thing that helps Bacon is his second love, music. He finds writing to be therapeutic, and when his therapist is out of town, his guitar is what soothes him down.

He Still Doesn’t Feel Like He’s Made It

Bacon admits that he still doesn’t feel that he has reached the peak of his career. But that’s exactly the force that drives him to keep going and to try new things. He sees this sort of attitude as the key to maintain his youthful spirit. He confessed, “The best gig, the best scene, or the best moment or whatever is around the corner, it’s not here yet.”

Hollow Man, Elisabeth Shue, Kevin Bacon
Hollow Man, Elisabeth Shue, Kevin Bacon. Photo by Moviestore/Shutterstock

He has been in the business for over 40 years, and when asked about the key to his longevity, he half-jokingly said, “There’s no secret to longevity. Longevity is the secret. If you just hang in there, I think sooner, or later somebody goes, ‘Yeah, you know, I always liked that guy!’ Even if you suck!” Well, Bacon doesn’t suck, but he’s got a point.

He Had a Street Band Over for Thanksgiving

When Kevin moved to New York at the age of 17, he was working as a waiter and trying to make ends meet. He rode the subway a lot and claims that he still loves to travel around the city that way. He feels that it’s “in his blood” and can’t think of a reason not to commute that way.

Apollo 13, Kevin Bacon, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton.
Apollo 13, Kevin Bacon, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton. Photo by Moviestore/Shutterstock

Despite being a public figure, he says that, for the most part, people give him space. And anyway, the people on the ride are part of the experience! His most memorable trip was when an acapella band came on the train, started a fake fight, and then broke into a song. He was so impressed he even invited the band over for Thanksgiving dinner.

He Was Anti-Television at First

When Bacon started out in Hollywood, TV felt like the steppingstone you needed to cross in order to reach the silver screen. Because of that, Bacon admits that for years he was “anti-television.” But after seeing his wife’s success with the crime series, The Closer, he completely changed his mind.

Kevin Bacon Kevin Bacon on 'The Following' set, New York, America - 22 Jan 2015
Kevin Bacon Kevin Bacon on ‘The Following’ set, New York, America – 22 Jan 2015. Photo by Zelig Shaul/Ace Pictures/Shutterstock

Bacon admitted, “I saw how creatively rewarding Kyra’s experience was. I picked up the phone, called my reps and said, ‘All right, time to start considering television.’” Since his realization, he has appeared in numerous shows and has even committed himself to a three-season run of the thriller series, The Following. Bacon feels that “This is the golden age of TV.”

He Wanted to Outshine His Dad

Kevin isn’t the only famous person in the Bacon family. His dad, Edmund Bacon, was a famous architect in Philadelphia and even appeared on the November 6, 1964, cover of Time Magazine. Seeing his dad in the paper had an effect on young Bacon, and he decided he simply had to be more famous than his dad.

Where The Truth Lies, Colin Firth, Kevin Bacon
Where The Truth Lies, Colin Firth, Kevin Bacon. Photo by Moviestore/Shutterstock

In an interview for The Guardian, Kevin joked, “Sons just want to kick their fathers’ ass sometimes.” He explained, “My dad … wasn’t a rich guy, but in our little world in Philadelphia, he was famous. He loved to see his picture in the paper. I wanted to be more famous than him.” There’s nothing like some healthy jealousy to push you to stardom.

He’s an Atheist

In a 2005 interview with The Times of London, the actor pointed out that he doesn’t believe in God and that he strongly advocates for church-state separation. Now that doesn’t mean that he’s necessarily anti-religious, he simply doesn’t connect to it on a personal level and doesn’t think it needs to be part of his daily decisions.

A Few Good Men, Kevin Bacon
A Few Good Men, Kevin Bacon. Photo by Moviestore/Shutterstock

His band, The Bacon Brothers, wrote a song about the topic of religion called, Children. The lyrics include, “Please don’t hurt the children, please lay down the rod / Please don‘t send your bombs in and say you‘re doing the work of God.” Bottom line, Bacon isn’t “anti” anything, he’s just upset by how war and religion often get entangled with one another.

When Kevin Became Dick

When Kevin read the pilot for the comedy series, I Love Dick, he instantly knew he wanted to be a part of it. He described it as unusual, hilarious, and something he had never seen before on TV. His role as an objectified manly stud didn’t bother him at all, he admitted that he loved the attention and saw it as a compliment.

“I Love Dick” TV series – 2016, Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Hahn, Griffin Dunne. Photo By Leann Mueller/Amazon/Kobal/Shutterstock

But Bacon didn’t want Dick to come off as this stagnant character whose main role was to satisfy a woman’s fantasy. So he went to the producers and asked them to add a bit more depth and color to his role. They reassured him that “their idea was to see into the soul of this man.” So Bacon went ahead with it and hasn’t regretted his decision to join.

Bacon Is the Juiciest Burger Around

Bacon is a downright superstar. Not only does he have a game named after him, but he also appears on the menu of Hungry Bros. food truck. The Bacon-inspired dish is arguably the most popular one on the menu. Waffle fries topped with grilled chicken breast, buttermilk ranch, and smoked… you guessed it, bacon.

Kevin Bacon, Daughter Sosie and Kyra Sedgwick
Kevin Bacon, Daughter Sosie and Kyra Sedgwick. Photo by Jim Smeal/BEI/Shutterstock

Looks like Kevin has the perfect name for an appetizing meal because apart from seasoned fries, his name appears on several burger menus around the world. Iceland, Canada, and the US all have burgers named after the actor. Just Google The Kevin Bacon burger, and you’ll find infinite praises of it being “the juiciest burger around.”

Does Kevin Even Like Bacon?

Bon Appétit magazine sat down with the actor to clarify once and for all – does he like bacon? Or did his last name steer him away from the crispy treat? The answer was a definite yes, Bacon enjoys his bacon. His favorite sandwich is a classic B.L.T but has evolved over the years to B.L.A.T. (with avocado) and finally B.L.A.S.T (avocado and salmon).

Beauty Shop, Kevin Bacon
Beauty Shop, Kevin Bacon. Photo by Moviestore/Shutterstock

He likes his strips well cooked and crispy, and if he could come up with a new bacon recipe, he would combine it with another one of his favorite foods – tacos. Basically, a traditional taco with strips of bacon on top, some cilantro, and a little bit of yogurt or mayonnaise. Sounds incredibly good, and I wouldn’t be surprised if restaurants already have that on their menu.