Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 8 July 1958.
Studied at Circle in the Square Theatre School; Manning Street
Married the actress Kyra Sedgwick, son: Travis, and daughter: Sosie Ruth.
Appeared in daytime TV series
Search for Tomorrow
The Guiding Light
; 1978—off-Broadway debut in
; film debut in
National Lampoon's Animal House
; 1983—Broadway debut in
; 1984—appeared in live TV special
, as Ensign Pulver; 1996—film directorial debut with
Obie Award for Distinguished Performance, for
, 1981; Best Actor, Broadcast Critics Association, for
Murder in the First
Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA
National Lampoon's Animal House (Landis) (as Chip Diller)
Starting Over (Pakula); The Gift (Don Taylor—for TV) (as Teddy)
Hero at Large (Davidson) (as 2nd teenager); Friday the 13th (Cunningham) (as Jack)
Only When I Laugh ( It Hurts Only When I Laugh ) (Glenn Jordan) (as Don)
Forty Deuce (Morrissey) (as Rickey); Diner (Levinson) (as Fenwick)
The Demon Murder Case ( The Rhode Island Murders ) (Hale—for TV) (as Kenny Miller); "Alexandra's Story" ep. of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute ( Trumps ) (Bank—for TV, re-released theatrically in 1985) (as Dennis)
Footloose (Ross) (as Ren MacCormack)
Quicksilver (Donnelly) (as Jack Casey)
White Water Summer ( Rites of Summer ) (Bleckner) (as Vic); Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Hughes) (as Taxi Racer); Lemon Sky (Egleson—for TV) (as Alan)
End of the Line (Jay Russell) (as Everett); She's Having a Baby (Hughes) (as Jefferson "Jake" Briggs)
Criminal Law (Campbell) (as Martin Thiel); The Big Picture (Christopher Guest) (as Nick Chapman)
Tremors (Underwood) (as Valentine McKee); Flatliners (Schumacher) (as David Labraccio)
Queens Logic (Rash) (as Dennis); He Said, She Said (Kwapis and Marisa Silver) (as Dan Hanson); Pyrates (Noah Stern—released direct to video) (as Sam); JFK (Oliver Stone) (as Willie O'Keefe)
A Few Good Men (Rob Reiner) (as Capt. Jack Ross)
The Air Up There (Glaser) (as Jimmy Dolan); The River Wild (Hanson) (as Wade)
Murder in the First (Rocco) (as Henri Young); Apollo 13 (Ron Howard) (as Jack Swigert); Balto (Wells—animation) (as voice of Balto)
Sleepers (Levinson) (as Nokes)
Picture Perfect (Gordon) (as Sam Mayfair); Telling Lies in America (Ferland) (as Billy Magic)
Wild Things (McNaughton) (as Ray Duquette) (+ exec pr)
Stir of Echoes (Koepp) (as Tom Witzky); My Dog Skip (Russell) (as Jack Morris)
Hollow Man (Verhoeven) (as Sebastian Caine); We Married Margo (Shapiro) (as himself); Novocaine (Atkins)
"Totally Candid Kevin Bacon," interview with Chris Chase, in Cosmopolitan (New York), September 1994.
"25 Helpings of Kevin Bacon," interview with Ray Rogers, in Interview (New York), October 1994.
"Kevin Bacon Wants to Be the Guy," interview with Holly Sorensen, in Premiere (New York), March 1995.
"Leading Edge," interview with Bart Mills, in Time Out (London), 29 November, 1995.
Interview with Mark Salisbury, in Empire (London), no. 79, 1996.
Lubow, Arthur, "Footloose Fever," in People Weekly (New York), 2 April 1984.
Saban, S., "Bacon Bounces Back," in Movieline (Escondido, California), December 1992.
"Making Waves," in Film Review (London), March 1995.
Noomen, Erik, "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," in Skrien (Amsterdam), December–January 1997–1998.
* * *
The good-looking, WASPish Kevin Bacon has had a shaky but generally respected acting career, both in the American cinema and on the New York stage. For a time in the mid-eighties, Bacon was considered a major star, but because of a number of poor project choices and a certain stiffness the actor displays on camera he has not quite maintained his major rank. In the 1990s Bacon reestablished himself as something of a character actor playing the kind of sexy, dangerous roles he began his career with and he seems poised to follow many of his colleagues into directing.
By the time Herbert Ross's Footloose came out in 1984, vaulting Bacon to stardom, he had already made an impression on critics with his drugged-out gay hustler Ricky in the off-Broadway production Forty Deuce and as Fenwick in Barry Levinson's 1982 sleeper, Diner . While the former is virtually unknown outside the New York Village scene (the Paul Morrissey film adaptation starring Bacon and Orson Bean was barely released), Bacon's performance in it exemplifies his appeal to directors looking for attractive young actors willing to throw vanity aside and play unglamorous, unlikable people. (Ricky was a character Bacon would recreate, to a certain extent, for Oliver Stone's J.F.K. ) Bacon's praised work as the intelligent but foolish and self-destructive Fenwick in Diner is also part of this actors' tradition Bacon still subscribes to.
It almost seems an anomaly that Bacon wound up in Footloose , one of the shallower films in his credits (and a role he did not seem quite comfortable with), but the film was a major blockbuster and it seemed to increase anticipations that the 25-year-old actor would become a major star. Expectations were suddenly very high, but Bacon tellingly chose to claim a kinship with the stage in a live television performance of the play Mr. Roberts (as Ensign Pulver) a month after Footloose 's record-breaking run had begun.
While Bacon might have done well to swing back and forth from "acting" on stage (and in independent cinema) and "starring" in major studio films, the choices offered him in these realms were often second-rank. Quicksilver was Bacon's Footloose follow-up, but critics and audiences ignored the formulaic picture. Lemon Sky was an actorly realization of a Lanford Wilson script for American Playhouse, but, aside from giving Bacon an opportunity to act with his future wife Kyra Sedgwick, it did little to further his career. Some of Bacon's best work in the late eighties was either in poor films (his brilliant psychopath Martin Thiel, opposite Gary Oldman, in Criminal Law ) or in fine, but little-seen pictures (such as the winsome sci-fi pastiche Tremors ). Bacon enjoyed moderate success in She's Having a Baby as an expectant father opposite Elizabeth McGovern but his next major comedy The Big Picture , a satire of Hollywood, was barely released. By the nineties, Bacon seemed to star only in critical and box-office disappointments such as He Said, She Said and The Air Up There .
Bacon did regain some cachet in such ensemble films as Queens Logic and Apollo 13 (as a touchingly portrayed Jack Swigert) but it was in character roles that he most impressed nineties audiences. Bacon returned to hustling, distinguishing himself in a cast of heavy-hitters, in J.F.K. ; played a convincingly menacing military lawyer for Rob Reiner in A Few Good Men ; held his own against Meryl Streep in The River Wild ; and surprised many observers with his nearly operatic turn as Henri Young, an inmate driven mad by the conditions of Alcatraz in Murder in the First . As the nineties continued, Bacon reteamed with Barry Levinson for the ensemble film Sleepers , co-starring Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, and Jason Patric but his future may place him more often behind the camera. Bacon's directorial debut, the Showtime film Losing Chase , premiered at Sundance in 1996 to enthusiastic responses. While the project was hampered by a contrived script, its surefooted style and uniform acting excellence indicates that Bacon may harbor considerable talents as a director.