Kevin Bacon is opening up about Footloose, the movie that launched his career, and how he struggled with fame following the film’s success.
During a recent episode of Podcrushed, the actor told hosts Penn Badgley, Nava Kavelin and Sophie Ansari that he saw himself as more of a serious actor and didn’t want to only be known for his dancing role as Ren McCormack in the 1984 film.
“When I became a pop star, the last thing I wanted to be was a pop star,” he said. “I had already moved into, you know, ‘I want to be Dustin Hoffman or Meryl [Streep] or John Cazale or [Robert] De Niro. I want to work with [Martin] Scorsese. I want to do Chekhov.’ You know what I mean?”
Bacon continued, “I was so into what my idea of a serious actor was, and all of a sudden I was given this thing [Footloose] that was completely not a serious actor. So I rejected it, like, full on. And really, I think in some ways, I tried to self-sabotage that piece of myself and my popularity.”
Footloose, which also starred Lori Singer, follows Bacon’s Ren, a city teen who moves to a small town where rock music and dancing have been banned. With his rebellious spirit, he looks to shake up the town and convince the city council to lift the ban on dancing.
The actor said while he dreamed of doing photo shoots and magazine interviews as a child, once he actually got in the spotlight, he was “very, very uncomfortable.”
“Everything that I had dreamed of gave me a tremendous amount of self-doubt but also anxiety,” Bacon recalled.
Around the same time, a party game called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” went viral, which only added to his uneasy feeling and led to him being completely “horrified by it.”
“I thought that, and this is my own acting insecurity — impostor syndrome — I thought that the joke of it was that the great actors could be connected to a loser actor like me,” he said. “They were saying, ‘Look, can you believe he can be connected by Meryl Streep?’ By the way, I think I had already worked with Meryl Streep, so it wasn’t even … It’s just in my own head.”
Bacon said over time, he realized the game wasn’t an attack on him and his career. “I eventually learned to embrace it, and I realized it wasn’t really going away,” he said. “It’s not a thing, it’s not anything you can hold. … It’s just an idea.”
The actor actually embraced it so much that he founded the nonprofit Six Degrees as well as a newly launched podcast called Six Degrees with Kevin Bacon.