By 1984, Kevin Bacon was a rising star in Hollywood, having already scored memorable parts in hits like “Friday the 13th” and “Diner.”
Then came “Footloose.”
The teen rebellion/dance-packed musical drama offered Bacon a full leading role, and became not only a huge hit, but an iconic 1980s movie that has remained a nostalgic favorite.
His character, Ren McCormack, was only Bacon’s ninth role – still quite early in his career since he is now 64, and has been making movies for four decades.
Upon its release in February 1984 though, “Footloose” was critically received as a somewhat innocuous teen romp dumped into the late winter release schedule graveyard. Nevertheless, by summer it had become a huge hit.
“I think that it was a great gift to be part of that movie,” Bacon said to "Today" show’s Willie Geist on “Sunday Sitdown” over the weekend. “I certainly took it very seriously when I was doing it, and I love that people will still come up and say that they just showed it to their kids.”
The film’s central plot of bucking adults’ rules to make your own fun is a timeless theme that means “Footloose” hasn’t just stayed a good memory for parents, but is relatable to successive generations.
"I love it," Bacon said. "I think it's great. It's like all of those things that you think 'Oh, my gosh, is it ever going to go away?' At a certain point, you have to embrace the beast."
Aside from its accessibly rebellious story (it’s not exactly “Easy Rider”), Bacon also attributes its longevity to the 1998 Broadway musical that he thinks “reignited the whole response" to “Footloose.”
“After the Broadway show [ended] its run, it then becomes available to be done in every single high school,” said Bacon. “And there’s not that many plays, certainly musicals, where you can have a musical and a bunch of high school kids in it.”
Social media recently played its part in revitalizing the film once more. A “Footloose” TikTok dance challenge quickly went viral earlier this summer that involved a tricky stunt done along to the film’s earworm theme song from Kenny Loggins.
The move, as Yahoo Entertainment explained, has one partner holding the other horizontally, grabbing onto one hand and leg. Then the partner unrolls the other toward the floor, catching them before they hit the ground.
The trend spread so wide that even Bacon and his wife of 34 years, Kyra Sedgwick, gave it a shot on their Instagram, and nailed it. It made for a meta-moment that was some kind of generationally convergent social media pinnacle.
Though Bacon noted that the move itself isn’t really in the original film. “I don’t remember this being part of the original #Footloose choreography,” he said in the caption to the couple’s post, “but figured we’d give it a spin.”
While he doesn't do much dancing in it, Kevin Bacon can be seen in the new horror film, "They/Them," in theaters now and streaming on Peacock starting August 5.