Kevin Bacon

Kevin Bacon

A leading man and character actor so prolific and well-liked that he spawned a game based on his screen ubiquity, Kevin Bacon has played a remarkably diverse array of roles in the course of a four-decade career in films and on television, from upstanding leads in "Footloose" (1983),"Tremors" (1990) and "Apollo 13" (1995) to complex, troubled, and even malevolent men in "Diner" (1982), "JFK" (1991), "Mystic River" (2005) and "City on a Hill" (Showtime, 2019-2022). Born Kevin Norwood Bacon in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania he was the youngest of six children by architect and city planner Edmund Norwood Bacon, whose status as the "father of modern Philadelphia" spurred his son to find his own path to acclaim. He found it at an early age in acting, which he pursued from his elementary school years through high school and at a special five-week theater course at Bucknell University. He left Philadelphia for New York City at the age of 17 to study at the Circle in the Square Theatre School in Greenwich Village, and by 1978, had made his feature film debut as a freshman ROTC soldier in "Animal House." Though a blockbuster, the John Landis comedy did not boost Bacon into stardom, and he returned to New York to work on daytime soap operas and the occasional feature, like 1980s' "Friday the 13th," while also honing his craft on stage. Eventually, he drew critical praise for his theater work, including an OBIE Award for "Forty Deuce" in 1982, which in turn revived his film career. Barry Levinson's "Diner," which paired Bacon with fellow up-and-comers Mickey Rourke, Paul Reiser and Tim Daly, served as the launching pad for his rise to stardom, which took off in earnest when he was cast in "Footloose" as a free-thinking, dance-loving young man in a strict Midwestern town. A major hit with young audiences, it led to starring roles as equally brash young men in unremarkable films like "Quicksilver" (1986) and John Hughes' "She's Having a Baby" (1987). Bacon shrewdly moved away from such projects and invested his time into character-driven roles - an icy killer in "Criminal Law" (1988), an aspiring filmmaker in Christopher Guest's "The Big Picture" (1989), a handyman pitted against subterranean monsters in the cult favorite "Tremors" - which eventually led to a show-stopping turn as a gay hustler connected to the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Oliver Stone's "JFK." The success of that film, and critical praise for his unsympathetic turns in "A Few Good Men" (1992) and "The River Wild" (1994), which reinvigorated his career and led to a prolific run as a leading man in Ron Howard's "Apollo 13," Levinson's "Sleepers" (1996), Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River" and numerous other films. Bacon was so frequently seen on screen in the 1990s and 2000s that he spawned a game called "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," which claimed to be able to connect him to any actor via shared or related projects. In the new millennium, Bacon's film roles grew more eclectic and even daring: he was a child kidnapper in "Trapped" (2002), a convicted pedophile in "The Woodsman" (2004), a comically vain hairstylist in "Beauty Shop" (2004), and a grieving vigilante in "Death Sentence" (2007). As the 2000s drew to a close, Bacon was finding more substantive work on television; he earned a Golden Globe as a Marine accompanying the body of a slain soldier to his hometown in the HBO drama "Taking Chance" (2009), and he starred as a former FBI agent on the trail of a serial killer with a devoted cult in "The Following" (Fox, 2013-2015). He also remained a fixture in films, albeit in smaller showcase roles for films like "X-Men: First Class" (2011). When "Following" ran its course, Bacon resumed his busy character actor work on television and film, earning critical praise for flinty roles in "Cop Car" (2015), "Black Mass" (2015) and "Patriots Day" (2016). He returned briefly to comedy as the object of Kathryn Hahn's obsession in the Amazon series "I Love Dick" (2017) before taking on the role of a corrupt FBI agent in the crime series "City on a Hill" for producers Barry Levinson, Tom Fontana, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.