Kevin Bacon is one of those actors who transcends the persona of performer or celebrity. He’s become a sort of presence permeating Hollywood—hence the widely known game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” The idea is simple: you can connect any actor to Bacon in six moves thanks to his varied career. It’s a pastime made for long car rides or to get very annoyed at your film junkie friends.
Despite his apparent ubiquity in Tinseltown, Bacon comes off as refreshingly normal, gracious and even a little boring when we speak over the phone. And hell, maybe that’s why he’s become such an institution; it’s hard not to like the guy.
Well, except for according to the new podcast The Last Degree of Kevin Bacon, streaming exclusively on Spotify. The scripted half-hour comedy follows the titular actor, playing a heightened version of himself, who has nary a friend in spite of his famed omnipresence. Eventually he crosses paths with Randy Beslow (Matt Walsh of Veep fame), who lost out on the Footloose part to Bacon and has vowed to kill him. The Last Degree of Kevin Bacon also features Bacon’s wife and celebrated actress Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer) playing herself as well as a colorful cast of characters voiced by talented performers including Lamorne Morris (New Girl), Michaela Watkins (Transparent, Big Mouth), Josh Fader (30 Rock), and others. The podcast was dreamed up by former Funny Or Die editor-in-chief Dan Abramson, who previously worked with Bacon on the video sketch “A Duck Walks In On A Couple Having Sex.”
“There is a kernel of truth about the whole Kyra wanting me to have more friends…or spend more time or reach out to people more, you know what I mean? That was—I think Dan probably heard something along those lines and picked up and ran with that,” Bacon confesses.
“I remember talking to Dan about it, and [Kyra’s] point of view is, ‘I have friends. You’re my husband.’ Like you know, people say,” he pauses to laugh, “ ‘Oh well, you know, my husband’s my best friend.’ She’s like, ‘Mmm, ehhh, I don’t know. I got a best friend, what I really need is a husband,’—and I get that.”
While he may be a bit similar to his on-air persona, Bacon is nothing like the embittered, vengeful Randy. When I ask where he thinks he’d be if he didn’t star in the 1984 classic Footloose, he replies with a laugh, “I wouldn’t be where Randy is.”
“I mean, I believe that you get to a certain point in your life and there’s a fork in the road, and one side of the fork is gratitude and the other side of the fork is bitterness. You’re sooner or later going to have to choose and Randy, certainly, chose bitterness a long time ago,” he continues. “So if it was me, I mean, I don’t really know, I think you’re probably looking for a funny answer to that, but I don’t really have a funny answer, other than to say that, you know, I’ve lost out on about a thousand Footlooses. I’ve been rejected for countless amounts of parts and many things that became iconic and, you know, I just pick up the pieces and keep going.” That tenacious attitude proves invaluable in Hollywood, where even the most well-known actors spend the majority of their careers facing rejection and failure rather than success.
Bacon and Sedgwick’s daughter, Sosie Bacon, has recently come into the limelight thanks to her work in the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why and the Manson Family drama Charlie Says. “You know, I really think she’s a talented kid and…you know, people go, ‘Well, she came out of nowhere,’ but she’s had quite a few years of putting in the hard work and the study and uh, rejection,” Bacon says.
He adds, “So far she seems to be strong enough and smart enough and, um, thick-skinned enough to be able to handle that. Uh, and she really loves it. She loves it like I do. So I’m happy for her.”
As for Bacon, he hopes that the best is yet to come in his career—including his involvement in The Last Degree of Kevin Bacon, which he says has been conceived as a multi-season podcast, and the Showtime drama City on a Hill.
“I’m someone who is looking down the road, so, what I’m really hoping is that my best work is in front of me, that the roles will get better and better as time goes on and that, um, you know, I’ll have more opportunities to do this thing that I truly love doing and that I think I’m pretty good at,” he shares.
“I hope I can just keep doing it as long as I’m standing. I mean, even if I’m not.”
You can listen to “The Last Degree of Kevin Bacon” every Monday, exclusively on Spotify.
Clare Martin writes about comedy, music and more for Paste.