Kevin Bacon Talks ‘Footloose’ Longevity in Sunday Sitdown Interview with TODAY’s Willie Geist

Kevin Bacon got his start in Hollywood starring in a string of films as a young actor between 1978 and 1983, including National Lampoon’s Animal House, Friday the 13th and Diner.

However, in 1984, his ninth acting credit changed everything. Bacon was cast as Ren McCormack on “Footloose,” bringing the Chicago native turned small-town rebel to life. The film was a box office hit and still lingers in pop culture 40 years later.

The 64-year-old actor talked about the longevity of “Footloose” during a recent Sunday Sitdown with TODAY’s Willie Geist, reflecting on his own feelings about the film and its reception by audiences.

“I like it,” Bacon told Willy. “I think it’s great. It’s like all these things where you think, ‘Oh my God, is it ever going to go away?’ At a certain point, you have to embrace the beast.”

“I think it was a wonderful gift to be a part of this film,” Bacon explained. “I definitely took it very seriously when I did it and I love that people will keep coming back and saying they just showed it to their kids.”

Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist - Season 35 (NBC / NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist – Season 35 (NBC / NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

As for the film’s success today, Bacon credits his second wind to the 1998 Broadway musical based on the film, saying it “sparked the whole response” to “Footloose.”

“After the Broadway show (has) finished its run, it then becomes available to be performed at any high school,” he said. “And there aren’t that many plays, certainly musicals, where you can have a musical and a bunch of high school kids in it.”

Because of the musical’s popularity in high schools, Bacon says he now hears all the time from fans that their child was cast in their school’s version of the play.

“A kid … came up to me and said, ‘I’ve got to tell you something,'” Bacon told Willie. “He was probably about 23 years old, something like that. He says, “I was on ‘Footloose.’ And I thought, this is great. I thought he played me or Chris Penn.”

However, the person ended up playing the role of Reverend Shaw (John Lithgow), who instituted the ban on dancing in the small town and is the closest thing the movie has to a villain. All Bacon could say to the fan in response was: “Oh yes, I could see you as Reverend Shaw.”

Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist - Season 35 (NBC / NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist – Season 35 (NBC / NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

“Footloose” returned to the spotlight in June after the “Footloose Drop” challenge went viral on TikTok. The trend, defined in Kenny Loggins’ iconic song, has one partner holding the other horizontally by grasping one arm and one leg. The partner then unrolls the other towards the floor, catching them before they fall.

Bacon and his wife of nearly 34 years, Kyra Sedgwick, tried the trend at home and perfectly executed the fake fall in an Instagram video shared by Bacon.

“I don’t remember this being part of the original #Footloose choreography, but I thought we’d give it a spin,” the actor captioned the video.

This wasn’t the first time Bacon busted out his dance moves since the movie premiere. He recreated some of his famous steps during a 2014 segment on “The Tonight Show” to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary. In March 2015, Bacon reflected on the moment, telling TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie, “It was a challenge, but it was a lot of fun to do and we all had a blast.”

During an interview on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” in April 2021, Bacon also admitted to the host that the dance scenes weren’t even the scariest scenes to shoot. In fact, there was a pivotal moment in the film that caused him to break out in hives.

“The thing that made me the most nervous was that this scene I’m going before the city council to make my case for being allowed to dance,” Bacon said. “For the dance, initially, I trained very, very hard, and it was definitely physical. But acting is my job and I really wanted the scene to work.”

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