Back to IndieWire

Bringing Back the Bacon: How Kevin Bacon Returned Stronger Than Ever

Bringing Back the Bacon: How Kevin Bacon Returned Stronger Than Ever


[Editor’s Note: This post is presented in partnership with 
Time Warner Cable Movies On Demand in support of Indie Film Month. Today’s pick, “Cop Car,” is available now On Demand. Need help finding a movie to watch? Let TWC find the best fit for your mood here.]

READ MORE: Review: Kevin Bacon Takes on Troublemaking Kids in Entertaining ‘Cop Car’

Kevin Bacon knows his career went down the tubes. In fact, his
exact phrase to The Guardian in a 2013 interview was, “going
down the toilet,” which he claims happened to him after
his breakout moment in the hit 1984 blockbuster “Footloose.” He’s
not entirely wrong. What followed after the smash that was “Footloose” were films like “She’s
Having a Baby,” “Criminal Law,” “End
of the Line” and “Tremors,” the
latter of which he said caused him to have a mental breakdown. At
the time, Bacon thought these flops meant death — but
death can often mark a new start for an actor. 

We saw the second coming of Matthew McConaughey, who emerged from
the ashes of rom-com nightmares as an Oscar winner. We saw Jake Gyllenhaal shed
the skin of his former “Day After Tomorrow” and “Prince of Persia” selves to turn in Oscar-caliber work in films like “Prisoners,” “Enemy” and “Nightcrawler.” Capped by the recent praise from Jon Watts’ “Cop
Car,” Bacon is having a comeback of his own, though one that’s
not so meteoric.

It was a shift that arguably began with “JFK” and “A Few Good Men,” before inching along through “Apollo
13,” James Gunn’s “Super” and “X-Men: First Class.” Bacon’s back, but he’s
not the same Bacon who hurdled through the air to the music of Moving Pictures.
He may “Never” reach that same leading man status,
but he’s found a new supporting niche in which he’s
more refined and seems more secure in himself (and his talents) than ever before.
“Cop Car” isn’t  really about
Bacon’s corrupt Sheriff Kretzer, but he was the name on everybody’s
lips by the time the credits rolled. His performance in the Sundance premiere perfectly captured his
newfound career ascension: He’s the riveting wild card that works
best when played opposite the protagonist. It’s the empathy-less
Kretzer who gives a tragic balance to the childlike naivety of the two boys
going for a joyride in the stolen vehicle, while being unique enough to demand
our attention.

But, another balance needed to be struck for this film: The light
and the dark. Kretzer’s situation is inherently funny — he’s
an adult whose car was stolen by a couple of brats, and he’s
left charging through town with his shirt and pants dangling off his frantic
body. And yet he never lets us forget his gruesomely dark
nature, the same nature that nearly murdered a fellow cop on a public street
and stuffed his bloodied victim in the trunk.

Perhaps he can attribute these skills to “The Following.” The
now-cancelled show was darker than your average network detective drama, and
Bacon developed his own following as an FBI agent forced out of retirement by a
serial killer. The show earned acclaim for Bacon’s work as he
bounced off his fellow castmates, though even his headlining role wasn’t
able to continue the series. We’re only 65% joking when we say he’s
equivalent to Jerry Gergich from “Parks and Recreation” — you
shine a leading-man spotlight on him, and he shrivels up. You leave him to his
own devices, and he emerges as the unsuspecting ray of light. 

But Bacon thrives in the dark. He and his agent recognized this
as one of his strengths, which is why he went after the male prostitute role in “JFK.” That was another film in which his
part, though small, helped liven up the serious nature of Oliver Stones work — and
gave the film one of its best lines. (“You dont
know s—t ‘cause you never been f—ked
in the ass.”) It’s poetic to think that Bacon is
looking back to his past experiences in order to move forward.  

Indiewire has partnered with Time Warner Cable Movies On Demand for September’s Indie Film Month. Enjoy exceptionally creative and uniquely entertaining new Indie releases (“Love & Mercy,” “The Overnight,” “Time Out of Mind,” “Cop Car” and more) all month long on Time Warner Cable Movies On Demand. Go HERE daily for movie reviews, interviews, and exclusive footage of the suggested TWC movie of the day and catch the best Indie titles on TWC Movies On Demand.

READ MORE: Jon Watts On the Life-Changing ‘Cop Car’ and Why ‘Spider-Man’ is Just Another Indie

This Article is related to: Features and tagged , ,