Barely recognizable under a heavy peacoat, baseball cap, and dark-rimmed glasses, Kevin Bacon saunters to the back of a cozy café on Manhattan's Upper West Side. It's early December, and the 46-year-old actor has just received a double dose of good news: He's been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his portrayal of a convicted pedophile in The Woodsman (out Dec. 24), which costars his wife, Kyra Sedgwick; and Loverboy, a gritty drama about an overbearing mother that he directed and co-produced with Sedgwick, will premiere at Sundance in January. ''It's my year of living dangerously,'' he cracks. • Though Woodsman has met positive reactions on the festival circuit since its Sundance debut last January, controversy over the movie's taboo subject matter seems almost certain to erupt in the weeks to come. But Bacon can take it. He's certainly not worried about whether playing a sex offender might harm his image. ''I really couldn't give a s- -,'' he says. ''I've heard all these rules: You gotta live in L.A. Well, I never lived in L.A.'' (His apartment is a stone's throw from the restaurant.) ''People say you're only allowed three bombs, then you're back on a soap opera. I've had, whatever, twenty bombs. The only rules I follow are my own.''
Here, Bacon looks back on where those rules have taken him.
Animal House (1978)
Bacon was an 18-year-old acting student in Manhattan when he landed his first part: an uptight frat boy in John Landis' classic, filmed at the University of Oregon.
''There's a lot of legendary stuff about how fun [the shoot] was, except that those who were not in the Animal House itself, the Omegas, we were sort of outcasts. And I was the youngest, by far. That's not to say I didn't have a good time I mean, I made friends with the university kids, went to frat parties. I shot the movie, came home, spent the money [I made] in a week, probably, then went back to waiting tables.''
Friday the 13th (1980)
The horror flick starred Bacon as the hapless camp counselor, who, while lying in bed, is memorably dispatched by an arrow rammed up through the mattress beneath him.
''They built a fake neck and chest, and I was [crouching] under the bed for hours [with my head sticking out through a hole]. It was absolutely awful. But I did have a classic horror-movie death, which is: You f--- the girl, you smoke the joint, you're dead. So that was good.''
Barry Levinson cast Bacon as the trust-fund slacker Fenwick in his 1959-set male-bonding ensemble that costarred Mickey Rourke, Steve Guttenberg, and Paul Reiser.
''There's some fun f---ing stories. We had the scene where Steve's character is giving a football quiz [to his fiancée]. It's late, we're tired, and we're guys. I'll never forget this. Paul's line is 'Hey, what do you want to bet she goes down for the count?' Then he goes, 'What do you want to bet the count enjoys it?' We lost it. It was so bad they sent us home. They were furious.''