Even Kevin Bacon – a decades-long zeitgeist hero so ubiquitous that he spawned a parlor game of the same name – can be happy when he is unexpectedly referenced.
That’s what happened in the summer of 2014 when the veteran actor went to an opening weekend screening of the hit Marvel team-up Guardians of the Universe at a movie theater in New York City. All alone too, because that’s how he rolls.
“For starters, it looked great,” Bacon tells Yahoo Entertainment. He had worked for someone else Guards writer-director James Gunn (which shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s played Six Degrees or Kevin Bacon) on the 2010 indie comedy Super. “So I wanted to see what he was going to do with this crazy kind of franchise.”
That’s when Bacon got a double take on hearing one of the movie’s most memorable exchanges, a completely on-brand, nostalgia-drenched name-drop from pop culture connoisseur Gunn.
“On my planet we have a legend about people like you. It is called FootlessChris Pratt’s Earth-born Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) teases future love interest Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) after stating that she does not in fact dance. “And in it, a great hero named Kevin Bacon teaches a whole town full of people with sticks up their asses that dancing is, well, the best thing there is.”
Later, after a particularly heroic moment, their ship landed MilanGamora turns to co-pilot Peter and says, “We’re just like Kevin Bacon.”
Bacon says, “There I was, all alone in the theater, and suddenly they’re talking about me. So you can imagine that’s quite an out-of-body experience. … It’s one thing if it was a drama or a regular comedy, but they’re in a whole different universe, a whole different world.
The actor called his wife, actress Kyra Sedgwick, immediately after the film.
“I said, ‘You’re not going to believe what just happened. But I’m not going to tell you, I want to go back to this movie with you. I’m telling you, it’s a great movie, you’re going to get a big kick out of it “So I took her back and didn’t tell her what was going to happen. And she had the same experience I had.”
Now Bacon is part of the Guards universe in the flesh as well. In the spirit belong to John Malkovich and The unbearable weight of enormous talent with Nicolas Cage, Bacon… Kevin Bacon… stars in The Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special.
Clearly influenced by the infamous 1978 Star Wars holiday special, the 44-minute Disney+ episode finds Guardians Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) desperate to cheer up Peter, who is still reeling from Gamora’s death. So for Christmas, the duo head to Hollywood to bring Peter one of his favorite things into the world…Kevin Bacon.
The 64-year-old actor, whose more than 60 film credits are also included Friday the 13th, Tremors, JFK, A Few Good Men, Apollo 13 and mystical river, himself plays an elevated version, with Gunn and company taking some racy shots of his profession. Drax and Mantis believe that Bacon is a real hero, not one who simply portrays heroes, and are disgusted to discover that he is merely a performer. “Actors are disgusting,” Drax laments at one point.
“It’s not like I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m playing myself. So this has to be very, very authentic to who I am.’ It’s kind of the opposite… It’s an idea of what a movie star’s life is, and that’s kind of funny and silly to me.
“And I like to fool myself. I really do. It partially plays on the idea of how self-righteous actors are, and the egos that get out of hand. And I think that’s just funny to discover.
For example, Klementieff loved the opportunity to move to a degree of separation from Bacon, whom she often refers to in the special as “Hollywood legend Kevin Bacon.”
“I’m proud of it,” she says. “I think it’s an achievement, right? I’ve said his name as many times as Mantis, and rehearsing the lines and practicing and stuff. I feel very close to him now.
“I think he enjoyed it. He told us it was different for him because he hasn’t done a lot of comedies in his career. So I think he really enjoyed coming with us on this ride.
The Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special premieres on Disney+ on November 25.
Watch the trailer: