Kevin Bacon On His Viral TikTok Videos, City On a Hill Season 2 Finale, Tremors Reboot
I wish Kevin Bacon would look at me the way he looks at his goats.
Louis and Macon Bacon live on Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwickâs farm in rural Connecticut, among their bovine brothers and sisters. They are the focus of Goat Songsâa TikTok series Bacon created during the pandemic. Be it in a field or in the barn, Bacon records himself serenading his pets with Radioheadâs âCreepâ or Fleetwood Macâs âGo Your Own Way.â
To my untrained, hypnotized goat-loving eye, this is as authentic as Kevin Bacon gets. Iâm sorry, but if a man is not at his purest singing beloved rock music to a goat, then purity doesnât exist. In these moments, Bacon seems authentically himself. Just him and some goats, vibing, without the shadow of celebrity expectation lurking. In the videos, Bacon seems like the kind of guy you want to chill with while he changes the word âGoâ to âGoat.â
Of course, like most good things in life, this is a ruse. A devastating ruse. Bacon, a character actor, is always playing some type of role, even on social media. âI’m a performer, so maybe it’s just a different level of trying to perform,â he says over a Zoom call in early May. âThey really are performancesâthe goat songs performances and any kind of silly cooking.â Thatâs right. Goat Songs is just one in a series of programming. Check out Cook With Bacon, when you get a minute.
Not long after Footloose, he decided that delving into an arsenal of complex characters was better than trying to create a leading man persona. âPartly, it was out of necessity,â he jokes. âI’d done quite a few leads that just didn’t perform.â Star vehicles like Quicksilver and The Big Picture flopped at the box office, but what Bacon noticed was that his strength was in something else. âHollywood in general is pretty fickle,â he says, âand it doesn’t stick around long if it hasn’t been working with your name above the title.â Hollywood loved him as a male prostitute in JFK though. They were wild about him as a gritty detective in Mystic River. Wearing an open blue flannel shirt during our Zoom call in early May, Bacon gets into the particulars of his career sitting against a bookcase filled with VHS tapesâa relic of the 90s thatâs still quite useful, so long as you know what to do with it.
The truth is, Kevin Bacon isnât interested in sharing the personal details of his life. Thatâs part of the power of metamorphosis, right? To get all artsy about it, heâs a canvas first. Right now, when Bacon is not charming the internet with kitchen hacks, he plays Jackie Rohr on Showtimeâs City on a Hill. Well, that and the goats, of course. But Jackie Rohr and Ren McCormack and Goat Kevin and even Interview Kevin are shades of someone unseen. Thatâs the trick: no one knows the real Kevin Bacon, but everyone has a favorite version of him.
The past year has changed Baconâs perspective in a lot of ways. At one point, work schedules, compounded by Covid travel restrictions, kept him and Sedgwick apart for nearly four months. âWhen we got separated, that was the longest amount of time that we’d ever been separated in 32 years of marriage,â he says. âWe just had this unwritten thing that we will get on planes, trains, or automobiles, and try to get to where each other are every two or three weeks.â Sharing meals is important to the both of them, but separated by distance, meal time went to shit. âI would be just sitting in front of the TV watching a football game, eating out of the pan,â Bacon says.
Following the pandemic-forced distance, the two were together more than ever before. Even after 32 years of marriage, you canât know everything about the other person. The close quarters forced Bacon and Sedgwick, like a lot of couples, to see one another more closely than ever before. âPart of what we both felt worked about our relationship is the fact that we’re both, at our core, are vagabonds,â he says. âPeople ask if we’ve learned a whole bunch of new things about each other. I don’t think that’s true, but I think we just learned how to get through that. I think part of it is.â
In the case of Bacon, isolation bears creative fruit. Over the pandemic, Bacon and Sedgwick shot a short film on an iPhone that will be released at the Brooklyn Film Festival. Bacon and his brother released a studio album. âIf I’m not creating something, I don’t really know what to do,â Bacon says before adding, âI also feel like with the whole Shakespeare writing during the plague, there’s also plenty of times during this pandemic, which I always want to remember and highlight, where I would wake up and just stare at the wallâ¦ where I was just tapped.â
Eventually, when the creative juices were flowing again, Bacon turned to social media. In late summer, Bacon started getting more active on TikTok and Instagram, posting a series of musical interludes and food hacksâboth of which fall in the category of internet love languages. Thereâs one video where Bacon teaches followers how to slice a banana with a needle and thread without peeling it. It honestly looks like witchcraft.
âYou got to try it!â he insists. âIt’s not that hard!â I tell him that Iâll leave that to him.
Baconâs first TikTok post promoted his charitable organization SixDegrees.org and its work to help frontline workers, but as the internet goes, his first post to truly go viral was one where he shared a mango recipe on TikTok while an instrumental version of Maroon 5âs âMemoriesâ played in the background. It was so average and ordinary that it was hard to believe that â80s heartthrob Kevin Bacon was the one posting it. From there, the floodgates opened: goat songs, food hacks, cute relationship moments shared between him and Sedgwick.
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âI’m just basically throwing the shit against the wall to see what sticks,â he says. âIt’s kind of weird because on one end, I’ve always felt like I really wasn’t interested in sharing myself. I was really more interested in just sharing my work. I’ve never really wanted to be judged in any way on what I do personally.â But I explain to him that, as it turns out, people love what he does in his personal time! And that sharing it online has paid off!
âListen, I am one TikTok video away from being slammed,â he says, stone faced. âTrust me, there’s no way of escaping that. I let somebody else read comments. I just can’t do it becauseâ¦ my skin is not thick enough.â And speaking of impending cancelation and creating content during the pandemic, Iâd be remiss if we didnât chat about the now-infamous âImagineâ singalong led by Gal Gadot. What is it about Bacon cutting a banana with a needle and thread that works versus other celebrities singing about survival from their mansions? âI think that was a good hearted attemptâ¦ it just didn’t,â he pauses. âIt didn’t work.â Even though heâs found a passionate fanbase on social media, Bacon admits that the idolatry of celebrity status isnât one he endorses.
âIt makes it very uncomfortable when people say, âWe hold your relationship up on such a pedestalâ because I just feel like… forget that,â he says. âDon’t look at my relationship, look at my last movie. You know what I mean?â Itâs also, as Bacon adds, the only thing you see. The complicated notion of knowing someone online is that you never know them. You just know what they reveal. Itâs an art, albeit an exhaustive one, that Bacon has been perfecting for 40 years.
Since his early days on Guiding Light in 1980, Baconâs done hundreds of photo shoots and interviews. The line between celebrity figure and actor isnât one he particularly enjoys. âTo have to go on about yourself… it’s a lot of work, and I’ve been doing it for a really long time,â he explains. âPeople will literally ask me in a photo session, âDo you like having your picture taken?â I’m like, âAre you fucking kidding me?ââ he says, laughing.
The public-facing stuff is a part of the job. Social media is at least a choice. But the stuff heâs most passionate aboutâhis artistic legacy, if you willâis the character acting. âI can sit here and talk to you and, to a certain extent, be myself. But when I become a character, I want to feel like I am that character.â
Right now, the persona occupying his mind most is City on a Hillâs Jackie, a once-revered FBI agent steeped in sleaze with a dash of existential dread. Jackie begins the season by dumping his side fling (an assistant U.S. attorney, mind you) at a hospital after she has a stroke following a cocaine overdose. Real asshole, this guy. As the season progresses, Jackie struggles to hold onto his flailing career, support the family he has at home, and most prominently, navigate the antagonistic relationship he has with Decourcy Ward, an A.D.A with the moral compass Jackie lacks. âI almost get the impression that it’s keeping me alive a little bit,â Bacon says of Jackieâs relationship with Ward. âHe’s younger, he’s stronger, he’s more vibrant. So maybe just the idea that I still can go toe to toe with him is something that’s feeding my ego.â
But City on a Hillâs second season most poignantly follows two brothers, Anton and Kelvin, caught in the midst of a drug gang war. Their mother, Grace, is a community activist. By the end of the season, one is incarcerated. The other, shot dead by an officer who unnecessarily took a shot. âIt’s not good and bad,â Bacon explains. âThatâs too simple. It’s too simple a concept.â The series stopped production after two episodes last March due to Covid-19. When the show resumed, the world and social climate was largely different. The plot was reworked due in part to the trauma of the past year. âThis kind of surge of social justice and [recognition of] racial inequality brought about by the murder of George Floyd really had a big impact on the people that were making the show,â Bacon adds. âThere was some sitting down and taking stock of what we had to say for the rest of the season.â Set in the early 90s, the season does not end on some big social justice triumph; instead, itâs reflective of an era that, despite being three decades gone, looks painfully similar to our own.
And itâs all further complicated by Jackie, who stands in stark contrast; heâs a guy who canât seem to do enough wrong to ever get caught. And yet part of the fun of playing him is the tease that he could ever be better than he is. âThis comes up a lot in life and with families and stuff,â Bacon says, shifting around in his kitchen chair. âA family member’s been a certain kind of way for 50, 60 years, and you wonder if there’s ever going to be any kind of change. But then you see something new, they’ve taken a basket weaver and then you never thought they would do that.â Television has allowed him to remain with Jackie and see him start to evolve. Itâs a development he hasnât considered much on the film side of things.
When I ask him if there are any roles heâd be interested in going back to revisit, Bacon says that he likes to leave the past in the past. But then he doubles back to correct himself: Tremors, baby. âIt was one film of mine that I wanted to revisit that character. I don’t look back at all. In fact, Tremors is the only movie of mine that I have rewatched since it’s come out.â
The cult classic co-starring Bacon, Fred Ward, and Reba McEntire (âReba was fantastic. It was kind of a stroke of genius to put her in that part.â) was a critical flop and a box office nightmare. And then oddly, thanks to the growing popularity of VHS, it became a fan favorite. Universal reached out to Bacon to see if heâd want to do a sequel. âI was like, âWell, why are you making a sequel of a movie that I was in that bombed?ââ Universal wanted a straight-to-video series, which was at the time the kiss of death for an actor. He passed and Universal made six increasingly bad straight-to-video sequels that did not star Bacon.
But Bacon had the itch to see what Valentine McKee was up to out there among the worm monsters. âWe were around the 25 year anniversary. I went to Blumhouse, and they were totally into the idea,â Bacon says. âUniversal didn’t want to remake it as a feature and also maybe because it didn’t work as a feature the first time. So we put it aside. Then they came back to me and said, âWhat would you think about doing it as a series?ââ The series was shopped around, eventually landed at SyFy, and then died before making it to air. âI would still love to do it, believe me. Maybe it needs to be the 30th anniversary or the 35th. We’ll keep going.â
While no role of his completely sums him up as a person, thereâs definitely one that took him most by surprise. In fact, it was a role of his that didnât even require him to be there. âWhen I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, I went to see it having no idea that I was discussed,â he says with a laugh. In the film, Chris Prattâs Star Lord references Baconâs role in Footloose. Baconâs legacy continues to be an ongoing reference in the franchise. âIt was an afternoon in New York, I was on 67th Street and went by myself, as I often do.. I was like, âHoly shit. They’re talking about me. Are you guys getting this?â”
Bacon has worked with Guardians director, James Gunn, in the past, while filming the superhero flick Super. âWhat I had heard was that my part was supposed to be played by Jean-Claude van Damme. So I’m like, âAm I going to take Jean-Claude van Dammeâs sloppy seconds? Hell, yeah.ââ As for whether heâd be down to reunite with Gunn and make a cameo in the upcoming Guardians film, Bacon doesnât hesitate. âListen, I love the idea. I would love to be part of that.â
For now, as City on a Hill closes its second season, the most high-profile role you can find Bacon in is still on social media. One day he might be singing Joni Mitchell in a tree. The next, heâs showing off his signature âBaconâ Air Max 90s (Bacon is a secret sneakerhead, after all). But as for the guy that exists off camera, be it the kind on a Hollywood set or the one that is in the palm of his hand, donât plan on meeting him anytime soon.
The truth is, Kevin Bacon isnât interested in sharing the personal details of his life. And the harder truth is that those details arenât our business anyway. They belong to him and Kyra and his children. Oh, and Macon Bacon of course.
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