When Kevin Bacon became a big star and something of a heart-throb in the 80s and early 90s, he rejected the idea of being popular with teenagers thanks to the likes of Tremors, Footloose, and Flatliners – because he wanted to be a serious actor. He also initially thought that the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon was poking fun at him being a ‘loser’ connected to better actors.
Kevin Bacon recently told Podcrushed hosts Penn Badgley, Sophie Ansari, and Nava Kavelin (via EW); “When I became a pop star, the last thing I wanted to be was a pop star. I had already moved into, ‘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?”
“I was so into what my idea of a serious actor was, and all of a sudden I was given this thing [dance movie Footloose, now looked back on fondly as one of the best 80s movies] that was completely not a serious actor. So I rejected it, full on. And really, I think in some ways, I tried to self-sabotage that piece of myself and my popularity. I was very, very uncomfortable with photo shoots and magazines…it gave me a tremendous amount of self-doubt and anxiety.”
When Bacon first learned of the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, he was completely “horrified by it.” The game challenges participants to connect Bacon to any other actor in six moves or less. “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. They were saying, ‘Look, can you believe he can be connected by Meryl Streep?’ But it’s just in my own head. I eventually learned to embrace it, and I realized it wasn’t really going away. It’s just an idea.”
Bacon has now starred in almost 70 movies, and over 100 projects in total, so Six Degrees is now a pretty easy game to play. He will next be seen in Macon Blair’s The Toxic Avenger alongside Elijah Wood and Peter Dinklage – so he’s only two moves away from the entire casts of The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.