Kevin Bacon is open about it the film that launched his career, and how he struggled with fame after the film’s success.
During a recent episode of Crushedthe actor told hosts Penn Badgley, Nava Kavelin and Sophie Ansari that he saw himself as a more serious actor and didn’t want to be known only for his dancing role as Ren McCormack in the 1984 film.
“When I became a pop star, the last thing I wanted was to be a pop star,” he said. “I had already moved on to, 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 my idea of a serious actor, and suddenly I got this thing (Footless) who was definitely not a serious actor. So I rejected it outright. And I think in some ways I’ve actually tried to sabotage that part of myself and my popularity.
Footless, which also starred Lori Singer, follows Bacon’s Ren, an urban teen who moves to a small town where rock music and dancing are banned. With his rebellious spirit he tries to wake up the city and convince the city council to lift the dancing ban.
The actor said that while he dreamed of doing photo shoots and magazine interviews as a child, once he stepped into the spotlight he felt “very, very uncomfortable.”
“Everything I had dreamed of gave me a tremendous amount of self-doubt, but also fear,” Bacon recalls.
Around the same time, a board game called ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ went viral, which only exacerbated his discomfort and led to him being completely ‘shocked’ by it.
“That’s what I thought, and this is my own acting insecurity – the imposter syndrome – I thought the joke of it was that the great actors could be associated with a loser actor like me,” he said. “They said, ‘Look, can you believe he could 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 that over time he realized that the match was not an attack on him and his career. “Eventually I learned to embrace it, and I realized it wasn’t really going away,” he said. “It’s not something, it’s not something you can hold on to. … It’s just an idea.”
In fact, the actor embraced it so much that he founded the nonprofit organization Six Degrees, as well as a recently launched podcast called Six Degrees with Kevin Bacon.