12 Best Kevin Bacon Movies and TV Shows

Kevin Bacon has done it all. Be it the dark and maniacal sinister Sean Nokes in ‘Sleepers’ (1996), the upbeat Sean Nokes in ‘Footloose’ (1984), the man on a journey to morally redeem himself in the ‘The Woodsman’ or the ex-FBI agent on the small screen’s ‘The Following’ (2013-15) – this actor can morph into any character.

Since his debut in ‘National Lampoon’s Animal House’ (1978), the actor has starred in multiple prominent roles.  The 59-year-old American is now considered as one of the greats, and was even named in The Guardian’s Oscars: the best actors never to have been nominated. At a time when Hollywood is the stage for young and upcoming actors, Bacon has remained relevant and is still one of the best and most wanted on the business.

For this list, I have chosen films which showcase primarily Kevin Bacon’s talents and made a constructive impact on his art and career. So, here is the list of top 12 Kevin Bacon movies and T.V shows that prove he is a class apart.

12. Diner (1982)

The oldest film on this list, ‘Diner’ was one of Bacon’s initial roles. Just six films old, the then 35-year-old actor plays the young Timothy “Fen” Fenwick Jr. Timothy is a twenty year old boy, teeming with adrenaline to achieve his goals. ‘Diner’ is a stark example of how cinema has changed over years, with the director Barry Levinson, venturing with such a simple topic on ordinary people leading their mundane, yet interesting lives. Although ‘Diner’ is not really Bacon’s strongest performances, with him delivering much more impressive and iconic roles, it did act as a pedestal for his acting talents and so deserves a place on this list.


11. The River Wild (1994)

Directed by crime-thriller veteran Curtis Hanson, ‘The River Wild’ tells the story of a family on a white-water rafting trip, who bump into two violent criminals in the wilderness. Playing half of the villainous duo Wade and Terry (John C. Reilly), Bacon brings out a spine-chilling performance. His and his partner’s sole mission is to take the Hartman family hostage and bring them down to dangerous river. Bacon infuses charm and wit with an unsettling evil mind. The tow villains, through the deft performances, made the audience completely paranoid and earned him fitting Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Featured Film.


10. Stir of Echoes (1990)

Crushed beneath a number of high-earning occult films of that year, it’s high time that ‘Stir of Echoes’ gets its due accolade and appreciation. 1990 saw three films with an ensemble cast – ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘The Blair Witch Project’ and ‘The Mummy’, this flick wasn’t appreciated during its release. Adapted from a novel ‘A Stir of Echoes’ (1958) written by Richard Matheson, Bacon plays Tom Witzky –  who after being hypnotized by his sister in law, begins to seemingly hallucinate haunting visions of a girl’s ghost. Through the glacial progress of the story, a mystery begins to unfold around him. Belonging to the supernatural horror genre, Bacon is phenomenal in his portrayal of a regular working class guy, whose whole belief system is in shambles due the haunting experience.


9. Tremors (1990)

‘Tremors’ is the perfect B-movie horror film. At a time when Bacon was at a “career low” and stated that “I can’t believe I’m doing a movie about underground worms!”  this flick elevated his career status. Essaying the role of Valentine McKee, Bacon is the man who has to defend his town and his people against an underground monster which is on a killing spree. The then depressed actor bought out a fitting “senseless” performance with the perfect comedic timing. A cult classic now, it is Bacon’s one of the hilarious performances.


8. X-Men: First Class (2011)

“We are the children of the atom. Radiation gave birth to mutants. What will kill the humans will only make us stronger.” This line moulds the perfection with which Bacon rendered the evil Sebastian Shaw – a mutant who can consume and transmit energy. ‘X-Men: First Class’ sets the roots of Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto (Michael Fassbender) friendship and the rivalry. Playing the primary antagonist, Bacon established Shaw as one of the most hated characters in the Marvel Universe.


7. Mystic River (2003)

Sean Devine couldn’t have portrayed with such perfection with which Kevin Bacon did. Playing the detective, Devine is given the task to investigate his friend, James “Jimmy” Markum’s (Sean Penn) daughter. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the 2003 mystery crime drama was moulded by a deft direction, screenplay and acting. The initial release saw Penn and Robbins being acknowledged and appreciated by critics and audience alike, but through time, Bacon’s immaculate portrayal of the articulate detective has gained equal appreciation.

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6. The Following (2013-15)

With a number or Hollywood leading actors taking up the challenge on the small screen, Bacon too does the same; and we couldn’t be any happier. Bacon plays follows former FBI agent Ryan Hardy, on a mission to help recapture serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), while Carroll’s cult captures his son from his ex-wife and sends his messages to the world.  Bacon dexterously morphs into the character and does not let his character drain out though the course of the show. ‘The Following’ has an immensely confusing plot, but it brilliantly knit by the masterful performances by its cast, led by Bacon.


5. A Few Good Men (1992)

It’s easy to get lost in a film containing an ensemble star-cast of Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore. However, Kevin Bacon firmly establishes his role as one of the most important. Playing the opposing counsel and Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee’s (Cruise) good friend Captain Jack Ross, the actor brings out an earnest performance. Bacon does not look to steal the spotlight, which makes the film even more edgy and classy. Even though Captain Ross is inadvertently on the wrong side, his deeds and belief in justice makes us root for him. Directed by Rob Reiner and written by Aaron Sorkin, this flick adds to Bacon’s impressive variety of roles.


4. Apollo 13 (1995)

A dramatization of NASA’s aborted 1970 lunar mission, ‘Apollo 13’ stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris. Directed by visionary filmmaker Ron Howard, this flick deftly employs visual effects and a brilliant performance by its actors. Bacon plays Jack Swigert, the last minute replacement pilot for the doomed Apollo 13 mission. Howard struck gold when he asked NASA’s technical assistance in astronaut and flight controller training for his cast, and film scenes aboard a reduced gravity aircraft for a realistic depiction of the “weightlessness” experienced by the astronauts in space.  Bacon masterfully depicted his character’s emotions with depth and elevated the Academy nominated flick  to a whole other level.


3. The Woodsman (2004)

Based on a Steven Fechter play of the same name, this 2004 film borrows inspiration and the name from the fairy tale character of the woodsman in ‘Little Red Riding Hood’.  Kevin Bacon stars as a convicted child molester who after returning after a span of 12 years, must adjust to life after prison. Portraying such a role can be tricky, with balancing morality and the inner animosity often acting as a troublesome element. However, Bacon masterfully pulls out one of his best performances where he brings a careful nuance of being a heinous child molester, and a man on the course of redemption. Nicole Kassell’s directorial debut was certainly a challenge for Bacon, who passed with flying colours. The critics loved its premise, and lauded Bacon’s paedophile turned morally-rehabilitated Walter.


2. Sleepers (1996)

Sean Nokes is every man’s worst nightmare. When a group of boys are sent to a juvenile prison after mistakenly committing a serious crime whilst planning a prank, their lives turn upside down. When things go bleak, enters Bacon’s Sean Nokes, who turns their lives into a living hell. Nokes is the satanic security guard who makes every scene a brutalizing experience for both the characters and the audience.

Bacon essays the character to perfection, bringing the right amount bone chilling expression and emotions and created a faultless antagonist. Nokes acts as the inspiration for the boys, who after years of unjust punishment and torture chose to avenge their lost years in the prison.


1. Footloose (1984)

Channelling his inner rebel, Bacon won the hearts of critics and audience with this 1984 musical drama. Essaying the role of Ren McCormack, a buoyant Chicago teen who moves to a small town where dancing and rock music have been banned.

He shakes the laws with his recalcitrant art and continuously disobeys the rather cold preacher minister Reverend Shaw Moore, played by John Lithgow. Bacon electrifies the iconic flick with his exhilarating dance moves. The actor, a young one at that time masterfully captivates the essence of the character and balances emotions like a veteran. It is quite interesting that an actor, who is famous for portraying cold and chilling character, pulled off such an upbeat and over-enthusiastic role. Directed by Herbert Ross, ‘Footloose’ might be Bacon’s finest role yet, with the film kicking-off the actor’s mainstream career and made him a household name.

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