- Kevin Bacon
caption = Kevin Bacon, 2007
birthname = Kevin Norwood Bacon
birthdate = birth date and age|mf=yes|1958|7|8
yearsactive = 1978-present
website = http://www.baconbros.com/
goldenglobeawards = Nominated: Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
The River Wild"
sagawards = Best Cast - Motion Picture
1995 "Apollo 13"
Kevin Norwood Bacon [cite web|title=Ten Further Hollywood Figures (or Groups Thereof)|author=Gary Boyd Roberts|url=http://www.newenglandancestors.org/education/articles/research/special_guests/gary_boyd_roberts/gbr_78.asp|publisher=New England Historic Genealogical Society|accessdate=2008-01-02] (born July 8, 1958) is a
Golden Globe- and Screen Actors Guild Award-nominated American filmand theater actorwhose notable roles include " Footloose", " Animal House", " A Few Good Men", " Stir of Echoes," " Wild Things," "JFK," "Apollo 13," "Mystic River," " The Woodsman, "and" Tremors."
Early life & career
Bacon, the youngest of six children, was born in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniaand raised in a close-knit family in Philadelphia. A former Park Avenue debutanteFact|date=August 2008, his mother, Ruth Hilda (née Holmes; 1916-1991), taught elementary schooland was a liberal activist, while his father, Edmund Bacon, was a well-respected urban planner. Knowing that he wanted to be an actor by age 13, Bacon left home four years later to pursue a theater career in New York, where he was one of the youngest students ever admitted and the youngest student to appear in a production at the Circle in the Square Theater School. "I wanted life, man, the real thing", he later recalled to Nancy Millsof "Cosmopolitan". "The message I got was 'The arts are it. Business is the devil's work. Art and creative expression are next to godliness.' Combine that with an immense ego and you wind up with an actor.""Cosmopolitan". March 1991, p. 92.]
Bacon's decision to become an actor did not come without pressures. Describing his father to Mills as a "city-planning superstar", he set very high goals for himself because he "felt nothing less than stardom would be enough." However, his movie debut in the fraternity comedy "
Animal House" in 1978 did not lead to the instant fame for which he had hoped, and Bacon returned to waiting tables and auditioning for small roles in theater. He refused a subsequent offer of a television seriesbased on "Animal House" in order to stay on the New York stage. Some of that early work included "Getting Out" performed at New York's Phoenix Theater, and " Flux" which he did at Second Stage Theatreduring their 1981–1982 season.
His motivation to remain in
New Yorkstill has resonancefor Bacon. "I think my decision had a lot to do with just being afraid," he explained to Chasein "Cosmopolitan". " L.A.scared me. I call it the city of fear. I get scared when I land, and I live in fear there, and I think a lot of people do. I mean, I've had a hard time in New York Citytoo, but aesthetically and spiritually, I'm an East Coast person.""Cosmopolitan". September 1994, p. 178.] With the support of his wife, actress Kyra Sedgwick, Bacon believes that he has come to terms with his qualms about Los Angeles, thus strengthening his commitment to acting. "Our lives are still crazy, we still spend a ton of time out [in L.A.] , and I've finally admitted that the movie business means a lot to me", he told Chase. "I used to say, it's okay, I can do it, but it isn't that important, and then I realized I was out of my mind; this is what I do for a living.".
Acclaim and success
Known for having what "
Entertainment Weekly" called "bone-dry humor and [an] average-Joe ability to tell it like it is",cite news|title=Breakout Star|url=http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,295838,00.html|publisher=Entertainment Weekly|author=Jeff Gordinier|date=January 27, 1995|pages=27] Bacon has always been forthcoming about his lack of professional self-confidence, which has never stopped him from delivering powerful performances. In 1982, he won an Obie Awardfor his role in " Forty-Deuce", a play about street hustlers, and soon after made his Broadway debut in " Slab Boys", with then-unknowns Sean Pennand Val Kilmer. However, it was not until he portrayed Timothy Fenwick that same year in Barry Levinson's "Diner"ndash costarring Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Tim Dalyand Ellen Barkinndash that he made an indelible impression on film criticsand moviegoers alike.Fact|date=January 2008 Set in Baltimoreduring Christmasweek of 1959, "Diner" depicts the lives of six young men in their early twenties who have been close friends since childhood but are gradually moving in different directions. By far the most aimless of the group, the surly, sarcastic Fenwick gets increasingly drunk as the story progresses, deriving great pleasure from playing practical jokeson his friends and outanswering contestantson the television quiz show College Bowlfrom the safety of his sofa. " The New Yorker's" Pauline Kael, who included Bacon's name on her list of the film's "amazing" performances, also noted that "with his pointed chin, and the look of a mad Mick, [he] keeps Fenwick morose and yet demonic." David Denbyof New York found Fenwick "both attractive and creepily self-destructive", attributing much of "Diner"'s success to the fact that it "offers a completed vision of life, ecstatic in its recovery of forgotten pleasures, melancholy in its knowledge of how small a chance these men ever had of reclaiming their freedom." [cite news|title=Review: Diner|author=Pauline Kael|publisher=The New Yorker|date=April 5, 1982]
Bolstered by the attention garnered by his performance in "Diner", Bacon went on to star in the 1984 box-office smash "
Footloose". Directed by Herbert Rossand packed with energetic musical dance sequences, the film tells the story of Ren McCormick, a streetwise Chicagoteenager (Bacon was actually 24 years old when filming began) who, after moving with his mother to a repressive small town in the Midwest, is determined to reverse the town minister's ban on rock-and-roll made years earlier. Richard Corliss of "Time" likened "Footloose" to the James Deanclassic " Rebel Without a Cause" and the old Mickey Rooney/ Judy Garlandmusicals, commenting that the film includes "motifs on book burning, mid-life crisis, AWOL parents, fatal car crashes, drug enforcement, and Bible Belt vigilantism."cite news|url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,950019,00.html|title=Revel Without a Cause|author=Richard Corliss|publisher=TIME|date=February 20, 1984] Part of the conflict centers around the relationship between the minister, played by John Lithgow, and his wild teenage daughter, played by Lori Singer, who falls in love with Bacon's character and joins forces with him to put on a dance in a neighboring town. To prepare for the role, Bacon enrolled at a high school as a transfer student named "Ren McCormick" and studied teenagers before leaving in the middle of the day.Fact|date=January 2008 Sporting a punk haircut for the role and a rebellious James Dean-type attitude somewhat different than that of the Fenwick character in "Diner", Bacon earned strong reviews for "Footloose", appearing on the cover of "People" magazine soon after its release.Fact|date=January 2008 David Ansen of " Newsweek" noted that "Footloose" "works because Bacon [is] always a fine actor," while Corliss found his performance to be "smart and appealing". The film itself, wrote Ansen, "has a lively, sweet infectious spirit," providing a "jolt of disposable but pleasant energy that makes you want to roll back the rug and boogie."citequote
Bacon's long-awaited exposure from these two films proved a mixed blessing, however, who found himself saddled with a new concernndash that he had become typecast as the characters he portrayed in the films "Diner" and "Footloose". Bacon would have difficulty shaking this on-screen image. His portrayal of Fenwick, Bacon explained to Mills in "Cosmopolitan", "made enough of an impact that it was very difficult for me to get a lead in a movie. The perception was that I was incapable of being heroic, that I was offbeat, dark, nutty, and messed up."citequote Nor did he welcome the teen-idol image that "Footloose" offered him, shunning other chances to play what he deemed "angst-ridden teenagers".citequote For the next several years Bacon chose films that cast him against either type and experienced, by his own estimation, a career slump. In 1988 he portrayed a newlywed who, ambivalent about marriage, faces the added burden of impending fatherhood in John Hughes's comedy "
She's Having a Baby", costarring Elizabeth McGovern. The next year he starred in a Christopher Guestcomedy called " The Big Picture", playing a film student whose excessive pride leads to trouble after achieving instant Hollywoodfame as a filmmaker. While " The Nation" found little else redeeming about the movie, it did comment on Bacon's "perfect face and unfailing charm as Nick", noting the actor's ability to "play just about anything".citequote
In 1990, Bacon had two successful roles. He played a character who saved his town from under-the-earth "graboid" monsters in the comedy/horror film "Tremors"ndash a role that "People" found him "far too accomplished"citequote to playndash and portrayed an earnest medical student experimenting with death in
Joel Schumacher's " Flatliners".
Bacon's next project was to star, opposite
Elizabeth Perkins, in the 1991 romantic comedy " He Said, She Said", codirected by Ken Kwapisand Marisa Silver. As clashing newspaper reporters who are forced to write a column together, the two fall in love; the film's story was made more interesting by being told twice, first from the viewpoint of Bacon's character, which Kwapis directed, and then from the viewpoint of Perkins's character, directed by Silver. Despite lukewarm reviews and low audience turnout, "He Said, She Said" was illuminating for Bacon. Required to play a character with sexist attitudes, he admitted that the role was not that large a stretch for him. "Until he meets Elizabeth, he sees women as sex objects...not people to respect or share your life with," he told Mills. "But he changes when he falls in love with the strongest woman he could possibly find. In some ways, this character is like me. What he's going through is maybe something I was going through ten or twelve years ago."citequote After completion of "He Said, She Said", Perkins had nothing but praise for her costar both on and off screen. "When Kevin first came on the set, I thought he was one of those actors who just breezes in and doesn't need to prepare for a scene. After a couple weeks, I realized that he does his homework, is extremely [focused] , and never misses a beat," she remarked in "Cosmopolitan". "What you assume is not always the truth about Kevin. He can come off as suave, and people may mistake it for arrogance. But underneath, he's very compassionate and kindhearted."citequote
By 1991, Bacon began to give up the idea of playing leading men in big-budget films and to remake himself as a character actor. "The only way I was going to be able to work on 'A' projects with really 'A' directors was if I wasn't the guy who was starring", he confided to "
The New York Times" writer Trip Gabriel. "You can't afford to set up a $40 million movie if you don't have your star."cite news|title=A Second Wind Is Blowing For Kevin Bacon|author=Trip Gabriel|publisher=The New York Times|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C07E6D91F3BF936A1575AC0A962958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all |date=September 25, 1994]
His performance that year as gay prostitute Willie O'Keefe in
Oliver Stone's "JFK" received tremendous critical acclaim, "Premiere" calling his work "flawless", while " National Review" described it as "stunning". Shining among an ensemble cast in a small but memorable role had its appeal for Bacon, whose career began to swing in a more positive direction. Encouraged by his "JFK" reviews, he went on to play another character rolendash prosecuting attorney Jack Ross in the 1992 military courtroom drama " A Few Good Men", starring Tom Cruiseand Jack Nicholson. Michael Sragow of "The New Yorker" found Bacon's performance to be the strongest in the film: "Kevin Bacon, as the prosecutor, gives the most full-bodied performance. You find yourself believing he is a career servicemanndash not because of his flattop haircut but because he's marinated in Marine tradition. His boyish competitive streak emerges from a saltier place than Cruise's."citequote
Bacon's newfound career momentum did not stop with these two films; that same year he returned to the theater to play, opposite
Saundra Santiago, in " Spike Heels", directed by Michael Greif. "Time", which praised the play's "tart wit, feminist insight, and quirky detours of plot", also pronounced Bacon, who portrays a wealthy cad, its "standout" for his ability to blend "ribaldry, rudeness, rapscallion reprehensibility, and believable redemption."cite news|title=Reviews Short Takes|date=June 15, 1992|publisher=TIME|url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,975774,00.html]
It was not until his work on "
The River Wild" in 1994, however, that Bacon began to feel more confident about the success of his professional comeback. He earned a Golden Globe Awardnomination for his portrayal of a compulsive liar whose boyish charm turns diabolic when he overtakes the raft of a former river guidendash played by Meryl Streepndash and her family on a white-water rafting trip. As Wade, Bacon initially flirts with Streep's character and then befriends her young son until it becomes apparent that he only wants her knowledge of the river to secure freedom for himself and his cohorts who are on the lam after a violent robbery. Describing it to Chase in "Cosmopolitan" as a "grueling shoot," in which "every one of us fell out of the boat at one point or another and had to be saved,"citequote Bacon had the added stress of worrying about Sedgwick and their children, who had joined him on location. Like the actors and crew, they had to come up the river each day in a helicopter, which would land on a raft and allow them to trudge to shore. "I'd hear somebody say, 'The Bacons are in the chopper,' and I'd see them waving, and then they'd come down," Bacon recalled. "It was terrifying because everything I loved was in that whirlybird."citequote Dispelling any lingering suggestions that Bacon might not be leading-man material, director Curtis Hanson told "The New York Times": "Kevin in our movie is playing a movie-star part. In another erandash if we were making this movie in 1950ndash I would have wanted Robert Mitchum to play that part." Hanson, after reflecting on Bacon's earlier career, also ventured to make some predictions about his future. "Kevin was going through a period of his life, agewise, that is as fragile as being a child star....You can be hot for a year or two and then you can fade rapidly," he explained to Hanson. "Whereas what Kevin's doing now—-whether by design or by accidentndash is he's building a very fruitful and long career...and he just keeps getting better."
No matter how grueling the shoot of "The River Wild" was, it could not compare to the hardships Bacon experienced preparing for his next film, where he won the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award in 1995, "
Murder in the First" . Based on a true story that occurred during the Depression, the film recounts the drama of Henri Young, a petty thief imprisoned in Alcatraz, who, after spending three years in solitary confinement, kills the inmate whose betrayal of him led to the punishment. Though Christian Slater, as his public defender, received top billing for the film, Bacon's character was the dramatic core. To transform himself into Henri Young, Bacon lost 20 pounds, shaved his head, and wore contact lenses that completely concealed his eyes and had to be removed every hour. He spent some time in a jail cell to get the feeling of being imprisoned. "In every scene, the character suffers a different level of pain," he explained to Chase. "Because he spent three years in that dungeon trying to keep warm, I picked this extreme physicality for him when he comes out. I'm all hunched over, and I walk with a limp, and I had to pull myself into that twisted condition everyday."citequote Helping Bacon through the physical and psychological wringer of the role was friend and fellow actor Gary Oldman, ironically playing a sadistic warden who routinely brutalizes Young. "You know, when somebody's thrown a bucket of cold water on you, and he's beating you with a blackjack, and the blood is flying, it helps if the person wielding the blackjack is someone you trust," Bacon told "Cosmopolitan's" Chase. "It lets you fly." For Bacon, the experience of being filmed naked for several weeks in a Los Angeleswarehouse and encrusted with mud and live bugs was not one he will forget soon. Nor will director Marc Rocco, who told "Premiere" that working with Bacon was "the most rewarding experience I've ever had with an actor."citequote The film did well at the box office, and Bacon was given good reviews for his performance.
The wave of success left Bacon with little time to rest between projects. His subsequent film, "Apollo 13", released in the summer of 1995, was a blockbuster. Preparation for the film, which tells the true story of an aborted space mission, involved some difficult stunt work. To simulate space travel, Bacon and costars
Tom Hanksand Bill Paxtontook several trips on huge NASA KC-135airplanes, which flies a series of parabolic curves in order to render passengers weightlessfor short periods of time. Bacon, who enjoyed this sensation no more than the daily exposure to icy wind and water on the set of "The River Wild", joked to "Entertainment Weekly", "I mean, I'm not a thrill seeker, but I keep getting into these situations."citequote
Bacon reverted to his trademark dark role once again, as a brutal and sadistic reform school warden in "Sleepers" in 1996. Like "Murder in the First", "Sleepers" presents a gripping yet horrifying reality, in stark contrast to Bacon's ensuing appearance in the lighthearted romantic comedy, "
Picture Perfect" the following year. Bacon again resurrected his oddball mystique that year as a retarded houseguest in " Digging to China", and as a disc jockeycorrupted by payolain "Telling Lies in America". As the executive producer of 1998's " Wild Things", Bacon reserved a supporting role for himself, and went on to star in " Stir of Echoes" (directed by David Koepp) in 1999, and in Paul Verhoeven's " Hollow Man" in 2000.
Colin Firthand Rachel Blancharddepict a ménage à troisin their film, " Where the Truth Lies". Bacon and director Atom Egoyanhave condemned the MPAAratings board decision to give the film their "NC-17" rating over the preferable "R". Bacon decried the decision, commenting: "I don't get it, when I see films (that) are extremely violent, extremely objectionable sometimes in terms of the roles that women play, slide by with an R, no problem, because the people happen to have more of their clothes on." [cite news|title=Kevin Bacon irked over movie rating|author=Bruce Kirkland|url=http://jam.canoe.ca/Movies/2005/09/14/1216527.html|date=2005-09-14|publisher=Toronto Sun] Bacon was again acclaimed for a dark starring role playing an offending pedophileon parole in the 2004 film " The Woodsman"; he was nominated best actor receiving the Independent Spirit Award.
He will appear in the HBO film "
Taking Chance", a movie based on a story written by LtCol. Strobl, an American 'Desert Storm' war veteran.
Kevin was also introduced as one of the writers for
The Colbert Reporton the first show following the writer's strike.
Bacon has been married to actress
Kyra Sedgwicksince September 4, 1988; they met on the set of the PBSversion of Lanford Wilson's play "Lemon Sky". "The time I was hitting what I considered to be bottom was also the time I met my wife, our kids were born, good things were happening", he explained to "Cosmopolitan's" Chase. "And I was able to keep supporting myself; that always gave me strength."citequote
Bacon and Sedgwick have starred together in "
Pyrates," " Murder in the First", and " The Woodsman". They have two children, Travis Bacon (born June 23, 1989 in Los Angeles, California) and Sosie Ruth Bacon (born March 15, 1992). The family reside on the Upper West Sideof Manhattan. Bacon and Sedgwick insist that neither work on separate projects at the same time. In 1994, while shooting " The River Wild", Bacon was accompanied at the set by his family. Bacon prioritizes his relationship with his children, something his father never did for him, and does not want to risk his career coming between him and his wife. "No place, no business could break up my wife and me. I would never give the movie business so much credit", he stated in "Cosmopolitan". "To me, marriage is about committing yourself to one person. In my opinion, I got the hottest babe there is; I would never do anything to jeopardize that."citequote
ix Degrees of Kevin Bacon
Bacon is the subject of the
trivia gametitled "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon", based on the idea that, due to his prolific screen career, any Hollywood actorcan be "linked" to another in a handful of "steps" based on their associations with Bacon. Although it has since been proven that there are "better" centers in the Hollywood universe, such as Sean Connery, Christopher Lee, Rod Steiger, Gene Hackmanor the prolific Michael Caine, Bacon's name remained the focus because he was the first one selected by the game's creators, and because the name "Kevin Bacon" rhymes with the last word of the phrase " six degrees of separation".Fact|date=June 2008 A person's number of degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon is known as one's "Bacon Number".
Though he was initially dismayed by the game, the
memestuck, and Bacon eventually embraced it, forming the "charitable initiative" SixDegrees.org, a social networking site intended to link people to charities and each other. [cite web|url=http://www.sixdegrees.org/|title=Six Degrees|accessdate=2008-01-02]
In 1995 Bacon formed a band called
The Bacon Brotherswith his brother, Michael. The duo have released four albums.
*"Animal House" (1978) as Chip Diller
*"Starting Over" (1979) as Husband
*"The Gift" (1979) as Teddy
Hero at Large" (1980) as 2nd Teenager
*"Friday the 13th" (1980) as Jack Burrell
*"Only When I Laugh" (1981) as Don
*"Diner" (1982) as Timothy Fenwick Jr.
*"Forty Deuce" (1982) as Ricky
*"The Demon Murder Case" (1983) as Kenny Miller
*"Enormous Changes at the Last Minute" (1983) as Dennis
Footloose" (1984) as Ren McCormack
*"Mister Roberts" (1984) as Ens. Frank Pulver
*"The Little Sister" (1985) as Probation Officer
*"Quicksilver" (1986) as Jack Casey
White Water Summer" (1987) as Vic
*"End of the Line" (1987) as Everett
Planes, Trains & Automobiles" (1987) as Taxi Racer
*"Lemon Sky" (1988) as Alan
She's Having a Baby" (1988) as Jefferson 'Jake' Edward Briggs
*"Criminal Law" (1989) as Martin Thiel
*"The Big Picture" (1989) as Nick Chapman
*"Tremors" (1990) as Valentine McKee
Flatliners" (1990) as David Labraccio
Pyrates" (1991) as Ari
Queens Logic" (1991) as Dennis
He Said, She Said" (1991) as Dan Hanson
*"JFK" (1991) as Willie O'Keefe
A Few Good Men" (1992) as Capt. Jack Ross
The Air Up There" (1994) as Jimmy Dolan
The River Wild" (1994) as Wade
Murder in the First" (1995) as Henri Young
*"Apollo 13" (1995) as Jack Swigert
*"Balto" (1995) (voice) as Balto
*"Sleepers" (1996) as Sean Nokes
Picture Perfect" (1997) as Sam Mayfair
*"Destination Anywhere" (1997) as Mike
Telling Lies in America" (1997) as Billy Magic
Digging to China" (1998) as Ricky Schroth
Wild Things" (1998) as Sgt. Ray Duguette
Stir of Echoes" (1999) as Tim Witzky
*"My Dog Skip" (2000) as Jack Morris
We Married Margo" (2000) as Himself
Hollow Man" (2000) as Sebastian Caine
*"Novocaine" (2001) as Lance Phelps
*"Trapped" (2002) as Joe Hickey
*"Mystic River" (2003) as Sean Devine
In the Cut" (2003) as John Graham
The Woodsman" (2004) as Walter
*"Cavedweller" (2004) as Randall Pritchard
*"Loverboy" (2005) as Marty
Beauty Shop" (2005) as Jorge
Where the Truth Lies" (2005) as Lanny Morris
*"Death Sentence" (2007) as Nick Hume
Rails & Ties" (2007) as Tom Stark
The Air I Breathe" (2008) as Love
*"A Little Vicious" (1991) (narrator)
*"New York Skyride" (1994) (narrator)
*"Imagine New York" (2003) as Himself
*"Natural Disasters: Forces of Nature" (2004) (narrator)
Saving Angelo" (2008) as Brent
*imdb name|id=0000102|name=Kevin Bacon
* [http://www.baconbros.com/ Bacon Brothers' Official Website]
* [http://oracleofbacon.org/ The Oracle of Bacon (Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game solver)]
* [http://www.culturecatch.com/podcast/kevin_bacon1 Kevin's Podcast on CultureCatch.com]
NAME=Bacon, Kevin Norwood
SHORT DESCRIPTION= American film and theater
DATE OF BIRTH= July 8, 1958
PLACE OF BIRTH=
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