Kevin Bacon talks longevity, bribing DJs and playing cops from Boston

Kevin Bacon joins q's Tom Power to tell us how he really felt about his famous role in Footloose, why he always seems to keep filming in Boston and how he once got duped by Bernie Madoff.
Kevin Bacon's new television series, City on a Hill, is airing now on Showtime. (Kevin Bacon/Facebook)

In Kevin Bacon's new crime-drama series City on a Hill — set in a gritty, '90s-era Boston — the actor becomes Jackie Rohr, an FBI agent with questionable morals. It's the kind of serious character role Bacon once thought he might never be offered, since many still think of him as the dancing heartthrob from Footloose.

Bacon joined q's Tom Power from New York to tell us how he really feels about that famous role, why he's bribed wedding DJs not to play the song Footloose and why he always seems to keep filming in Boston.

Here is part of that conversation.

On his decision to pursue acting

I knew I wanted to be an actor before I knew what an actor was. I wanted to be seen if I walked into a room. I wanted people to watch me. I wanted to make people laugh, you know? I just wanted to be the centre of attention. The acting was a natural extension of that.

When I took an acting class for the first time, I realized that it was a really good fit for me to try to get out of myself and become somebody else — to step into somebody else's shoes. All of those things were, not only fun, but kind of therapeutic for me.

Kevin Bacon in Footloose. (Paramount)

On fame after Footloose

Yeah, I wasn't comfortable with the exposure. Also, I was really uncomfortable with not being taken seriously as an actor. I had an idea about what a real actor was, you know? A respected actor. There was a whole bunch of stuff, stories that I had made up, that in retrospect, probably weren't that realistic. But that was my journey, and I wouldn't change it.

On breaking type in Hollywood

In Hollywood, we don't like people to do something we haven't seen them do before. You'd think that we did, but they really don't. Especially the people who are writing the cheques. If you've been associated with something that was a hit, that's what they want to see you do. To push back against that is a very difficult thing to do as an actor.

On bribing wedding DJs to not play Footloose

It sounds obnoxious and self-involved, but I'll tell you the reason: a wedding is the one time in most peoples' lives when they are number one on the call sheet. A wedding is the one time in most peoples' lives when they are the stars. Nobody else is supposed to be the star at the wedding. So when you enter into that world, and a situation is created after 10:30 p.m with a lot of alcohol involved, where people want me to get up and dance  it's just not my day. It's their day. I don't want to take the focus from them.

On longevity in show business

Listen, I feel grateful to be able to get anything at this stage. I've seen a lot of people come and go who have had the same kind of early success I had. Hanging in there is the thing that's difficult. Also, trying to establish that you're interested, able and willing to play different kinds of parts.

On losing money to Bernie Madoff

The truth is this happened, it sucks, bad things happen, and most of what's happened to my family has been good. We looked at each other and said, "Are you okay? Yeah. Kids okay? Yeah." Well, lets just keep going. What else are you going to do? 

You live a life, and you'll eventually come to a fork in the road. One direction is bitterness and the other direction is gratitude. You can choose which road you're going to walk down.

Bacon's new television series, City on a Hill, is airing now on Showtime.

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity. To hear the full conversation with Kevin Bacon, download our podcast or click 'Listen' near the top of this page.

— Produced by ​Vanessa Greco

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