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Kevin Bacon opens up about the endurance of 'Footloose': 'A great gift'

Bacon reflected on the movie's lasting success during the Sunday Sitdown with TODAY's Willie Geist.

Kevin Bacon got his start in Hollywood starring in a string of movies as a young actor between 1978 and 1983, including “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” “Friday the 13th,” and “Diner.”

However, in 1984, his ninth acting credit changed everything. Bacon was cast to play Ren McCormack in "Footloose," bringing the Chicago native turned small-town rebel to life. The movie became a box office hit and still remains in the pop culture zeitgeist, 40 years later.

The 64-year-old actor spoke about the longevity of “Footloose” during a recent Sunday Sitdown with TODAY’s Willie Geist, reflecting on his own feelings about the movie and the public’s reception of the film.

"I love it," Bacon told Willie. "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."

“I think that it was a great gift to be part of that movie,” Bacon explained. “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.”

Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist - Season 35
Kevin Bacon and Willie Geist on July 31, 2022NBC / NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

When it comes to the success of the movie today, Bacon attributes its second wind to the 1998 Broadway musical based on the film, saying it “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,” he said. “And there’s not that many plays, certainly musicals, where you can have a musical and a bunch of high school kids in it.”

Due to the popularity of the musical at high schools, Bacon says that he now constantly hears from fans that their child has played a role in their school’s version of the play.

“A kid ... came up to me and said, ‘I got to tell you something,’” Bacon told Willie. “He was probably about, 23, something like that. He says, ‘I was in “Footloose.”’ And I thought, that’s great. I figured he played my part, or Chris Penn’s.”

However, the individual ended up portraying the role of Reverend Shaw (John Lithgow), who instituted the ban on dancing in the small town and the closest thing the film has to a villain. All Bacon could say to the fan in response was, “Oh yeah, I could see you as Reverend Shaw.”

Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist - Season 35
Kevin Bacon and Willie Geist on July 31, 2022NBC / NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

“Footloose” re-entered the spotlight back in June after the “Footloose Drop” challenge went viral on TikTok. The trend, set to the iconic song by Kenny Loggins, 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 fall.

Bacon and his wife of nearly 34 years, Kyra Sedgwick, tested out the trend at home and perfectly executed the faux drop in an Instagram video shared by Bacon.

“I don’t remember this being part of the original #Footloose choreography but figured we’d give it a spin,” the actor captioned the video.

This wasn't the first time Bacon busted out his dance moves since the movie premiered, either. He re-created some of his famous steps during a 2014 segment on "The Tonight Show" to celebrate the movie's 30th anniversary. In March 2015, Bacon reflected on the moment, telling TODAY's Savannah Guthrie, "It was a challenge, but it was a lot of fun to do and we all had a gas."

During an interview on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” in April 2021, Bacon also admitted to the host that the dancing scenes were not even the most nerve-wracking scenes to film. In fact, there was one pivotal moment of the film that caused him to break out into hives.

“The thing that made me the most nervous was there’s this scene where I go before the town council to plead my case for being allowed to have the dance,” Bacon said. “The dancing, first off, I trained really, really hard for, and it was certainly physically. But acting is my stuff and I wanted the scene really to work.”