There are plenty of reasons why Kevin Bacon has his own parlour game, 'Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon'. His career has lasted over 30 years with hit movies and acclaimed films including JFK, A Few Good Men, The River Wild, Sleepers and Hollow Man, not to mention three seasons of the TV series The Following.
Yes, there have been some turkey Bacon flicks, but don't let them confuse you. Instead, let’s take a moment to appreciate six of Bacon's most memorable roles that have made him one of Hollywood’s hottest, most dogged actors.
In his breakout role as Ren McCormack, Bacon makes us want to kick off our Sunday shoes. He plays a big-city teenager who moves to a religious small-town where the reverend has banned the devil's music and dancing. Long story short, Bacon dates the reverend's rebellious daughter, gives a Bible-thumping talk to the townsfolk for being jealous of his boogie, and turns the party out with some iconic dance moves.
Thirty years later, he still can cut footloose, as he proves with this appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
As handyman and underground monster-buster Valentine 'Val' McKee, Bacon turns in a joyful performance that has, over the years, turned this cheesy comedy into a cult classic. Bacon has admitted that, at the time, he thought a movie about giant man-eating worms meant the end of his career. But now he says Val is one of the few characters he's willing to revisit.
Apollo 13 (1995)
Bacon shared top billing on this, for his part as Apollo 13 backup Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert, the last-minute replacement astronaut on a rocket-ship bound for the moon. His character is the least prepared of the three spacemen, especially when there's an explosion on the craft. But a crisp Bacon comes through with a stellar acting job opposite Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinese and Ed Harris.
Wild Things (1998)
Everyone saw the back of Bacon – and his front – in this erotic thriller that had his character, Sergeant Ray Duquette, in some gratuitous nude scenes. Bacon's cop is assigned to a sex crime case after two high school students claim they've been raped by their guidance counsellor. Alas, we can't embed this video of Bacon's bathroom scene because it's not halal for local consumption. But if you're over 18 years old, click on this link: Streaky Bacon.
Mystic River (2003)
Bacon is a master of character acting when he's playing villainous roles like Wade in The River Wild (1994), Sean Nokes in Sleepers (1996) and Sebastian Caine in Hollow Man (2000). But as Detective Sean Devine, a flawed hero in this tale of child sexual abuse, murder and revenge, Bacon takes his craft to whole other level, even as he's sandwiched between Tim Robbins and Oscar-winner Sean Penn.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
Bacon as evil mutant Sebastian Shaw? But of course! Sure, this isn't a beefy Bacon like the comic book version of the Hellfire Club leader, but he imbues the part with charm, depth and a complexity that makes you kind of like him, even though you know he's a sociopath to whom the morality of the world does not apply. Heck, he even killed Magneto's mum, and we still can't be mad at him.