American actor/musician Kevin Bacon is considered an icon in the film industry. Fans often wonder what his breakthrough role was.
Kevin Bacon became famous for starring in the 1982 movie Diner, and the 1984 movie Footloose, making him a “pop culture icon”. He was also the inspiration behind the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. His roles led to his typecasting later in his career, which he tried to break by purposely selecting movies that went against the role.
Read further to find out more about the role that allowed Kevin Bacon to rise to stardom
This was his first academic experience studying theater, which made him sure he wanted to continue in the field.
At 17, he moved to New York to pursue his acting career and appeared in several productions.
His debut film appearance was in 1978, in the comedy National Lampoon’s Animal House.
However, the role that caught critics’ attention in the film industry was when he played Timothy Fenwick in the 1982 comedy-drama Diner.
The director, Barry Levinson, received an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the movie, and critics praised Kevin Bacon’s performance, opening doors for him in Hollywood.
Starring in Footloose
In 1984, Bacon was presented with the opportunity to star in the musical drama Footloose.
This became the critically acclaimed hit with which his name would forever be associated.
The movie’s plot centers around a teenager named Ren (Kevin Bacon) who, upon finding out that the town he has moved into has made dancing and rock music illegal, attempts to break these restrictions.
The movie received mixed responses, with some critics being confused at its plot and intention. It averaged a 42/100 rating on Metacritic.
One critic, Roger Ebert, said Footloose was “a seriously confused movie that tries to do three things, and does all of them badly.”
Nevertheless, the film was a box office hit, and was hailed as a teen classic.
Bacon even shortly attended a local highschool as a transfer student, and studied the way the other teenagers behaved in preparation for the role.
Breaking The Typecast
Bacon’s international success playing similar characters in Footloose and Diner led to him becoming typecast for the roles.
After this, he deliberately chose roles that diverged from his previous experience and experienced a decline in his career.
However, he once again made progress in the 1990s, scoring successful movies such as A Few Good Men, even being nominated for a Golden Globe in The River Wild.
The parlor game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” is inspired by his significance in pop culture.
It is based on the Six Degrees of Separation theory, which proposes that every person in the world is linked to another through a chain of no more than six acquaintances.
People used this in an attempt to find the shortest link between Hollywood actors and Kevin Bacon by their common movie roles.
The game originated from Kevin Bacon’s comment in a Premiere magazine interview, where he stated that he had “worked with everybody in Hollywood or someone who’s worked with them.”
He later joked about it in an Instagram post during the coronavirus lockdown, encouraging people to stay at home through a “six degrees” initiative.
There is no doubt that Bacon’s influence in pop culture goes beyond his acting roles.