If you can’t beat ’em, the old saying goes, join ’em. In Kevin Bacon’s case, that meant accepting the fact that Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon — the party game that requires you to link every known actor to Bacon in six movies or less — was never going away. So he embraced the phenomenon and founded SixDegrees.org in 2007, a charitable organization whose efforts to fight hunger are being honored Nov. 1 in New York City with a Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award (named for the “Cat’s in the Cradle” songwriter).
And speaking of joining ’em, Bacon’s daughter, Sosie Bacon — who stars in Paramount’s gruesome hit Smile — is now well on her way toward joining her father as a horror movie icon. (Dad, you may recall, has been in a number of classic scary films, dating all the way back to 1980’s Friday the 13th.)
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Bacon, 64, to talk about his charitable work, his daughter’s ascent and the bologna sandwiches he was served on the set of Jason’s first outing.
Thanks for taking this time with me. I understand you’re very busy filming something right now
I’m doing Beverly Hills Cop 4, which is great. It’s fun, and I’m happy to be part of it
Had you ever met Eddie Murphy or worked with him before this?
This is the first time. So it’s exciting for me. It’s been good.
What do you play in it, if I can ask?
I think I’m supposed to sort of keep that on that down low.
Those movies are my entire childhood.
I tell you, man, every time I mention it to someone, they get a big smile on their face.
Yeah, that was pretty huge. But then so was Footloose. You were a huge part of my childhood as well, so you’re certainly worthy to ride with Axel Foley.
(Laughs.) Thank you. Thank you.
Congratulations on being honored for your work with SixDegrees.org. Could you tell me about that?
SixDegrees.org is an organization that I put together quite a few years ago. I was kind of looking at the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. As silly as it is, it just seemed like it was not going away. It just kind of had this hang time. So I decided to take that concept and figure out a way to give back with it.
We put together a benefit during lockdown, and the two organizations that we got involved with was WhyHunger and NAACP Legal Defense Fund. WhyHunger is a fantastic organization. They were started by the singer-songwriter Harry Chapin who was an amazing guy. He died tragically. But before he did, he spent a lot of his time giving back. And more specifically on hunger. So we are happy to be getting this award. It’s a tremendous honor.
What else is going on in Kevin Bacon world? How’s Kyra Sedgwick, your wife?
A few years ago — with my prodding encouragement and bugging her about it — she decided it was time to direct. And the first thing that she directed was a film for Lifetime called Story of a Girl, which got her a DGA nomination.
She’s a very, very good director. She directed a bunch of different television shows now like Grace and Frankie and City on a Hill, which is a show that I was on on Showtime. And [she directed me in] a film this past summer called Space Oddity. It was picked up for distribution out of Cannes Film Festival. We’re excited about that.
Do you enjoy being directed by her?
There’s a kind of antiquated idea that, “Oh, what is that? Your wife is going to tell you what to do?” When I hear people react in that way, I feel like, “Are we still in the ’50s?” I mean, come on. We have a shorthand that is great for the work that we do. I’m always happy to work with her.
And there’s someone else in the household who’s now quite a force. Your daughter stars in Smile, which spent three weeks at No. 1.
Yep. She’s great in the movie. She’s fantastic. We didn’t know she was really interested after that in pursuing any kind of an acting career. But when she finally, in her early 20s, decided that this is what she wanted to do, she dropped out of college and moved to L.A. and really started doing all the right stuff. Pounding the pavement, doing self-tape after self-tape, and studying.
When she got this part [in Smile], even knowing how hard she had worked, and knowing she was good, when I saw the movie I was just really taken aback with, not only with how great she was but also how hard that role was, because it’s one of those parts where there is no break. Usually, you start out and the character’s pretty happy for at least, you know, 15 minutes or 20 minutes before everything becomes horrible. But that’s a movie where the stress level is [insane]. I was very proud of her.
You were also in a high-concept horror movie recently — They/Them, which sounded quite interesting and provocative. It’s interesting that you’re both working in the same genre.
In a weird kind of way, we have a horror tradition in our family. One of my earliest movies was the very first Friday the 13th.
Of course. Amazing.
I was in Stir of Echoes and Hollow Man. Flatliners. I keep going back to horror.
Tremors, right. Yeah. We definitely have a fondness for it in our family. I wonder what it is, specifically. I think that for an actor, you’re looking for things that have high stakes — and that’s what horror gives you. It’s always going to be a radical life-or-death situation.
When you were on the set of Friday the 13th, did you have any idea what was going to come from that movie?
No. Definitely not. I had done Animal House, and I’d done some soap operas. I was actually on a soap opera while I was shooting Friday the 13th. I’d done a lot of theater in New York. I was choosing to live in New York, and it really was, at that time, not a hotbed of film and television production. There was really not that much going on.
And Friday the 13th was kind of the definition of a low-budget indie. It was made for nothing. I was out in Blairstown, New Jersey. I used to have to take a public bus to a bus stop in the middle of a country road, and somebody from the set would drive out and pick me up. I mean, that was the closest they had to any kind of transportation.
Literally, I remember we would break for lunch, and they’d put out bologna and cheese slices with white bread and French’s mustard and that was our lunch.
You get better food in prison.
Yeah. I wasn’t looking at it going, “Wow, this is gonna be a masterpiece of horror.” And I had no idea it was going to spawn however many Friday the 13ths they’ve done.
A hell of a lot. But there’s something about that first one that you just can’t beat. Well, Kevin, thank you so much. I’m really excited about Beverly Hills Cop 4. I hope you stick bananas in people’s tailpipes
Interview edited for length and clarity.