Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

Kevin Bacon in “You Should Have Left”.

“You Should Have Left” — a psychological horror film at the top of the streaming charts — features Kevin Bacon as a middle-age producer in a rocky marriage to a young actress. The pair set off on a vacation with their young daughter to a remote Welsh villa penetrated by a sinister force that threatens to tear them apart.

This got me thinking about a game that film buffs used to play — Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Bacon once claimed that he’d worked with everyone in Hollywood, or if not with them, then with someone who did. Out of that one statement, a phenomenon was born, one that occupied thousands of hours of film nerd discussion and spawned a board game, a book and even a charitable organization (sixdegrees.org).

It has been described as a parlor game, the object of which is to connect any random actor to Kevin Bacon through a series of no more than six shared connections. It requires absolutely no equipment. And it’s easier than you think.

For example, I am a normal, ordinary person. I once ran into actor River Phoenix at a music club in Florida, where he was playing with his family’s band. River Phoenix was in the movie “Stand By Me” with Kiefer Sutherland (what a bad guy!). Kiefer Sutherland was in “Flatliners” with Kevin Bacon. So, that’s three degrees.

Choose your own starting place and challenge your friends. To aid you, here are some great Kevin Bacon movies, along with a list of his co-stars.

“National Lampoon’s Animal House” (1978) — In director John Landis’ crack college comedy, Bacon played Omega pledge Chip Diller. It also starred John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Tom Hulce, Karen Allen and Donald Sutherland.

“Diner” (1982) — Director Barry Levinson’s autobiographical story set in late 1950s Baltimore includes Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin and Paul Reiser.

“Footloose” (1984) — This ‘80s superclassic about a big-city kid who changes small-town hearts with his love of dance also starred Lori Singer, John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Chris Penn and Sarah Jessica Parker.

“She’s Having a Baby” (1988) — Bacon plays half of a young couple struggling to conceive in a cast that includes Elizabeth McGovern, Alec Baldwin, Holland Taylor, Paul Gleason and Edie McClurg.

“A Few Good Men” (1992) — The quotable military legal drama features heavy hitters Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore and Kiefer Sutherland with Noah Wyle, Cuba Gooding Jr. and a cameo by writer Aaron Sorkin.

“Apollo 13” (1995) — Houston, we have a fantastic cast, including Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris.

“Black Mass” (2015) — Irish mobster Whitey Bulger is the focus of an investigation in this crime drama with a cast that includes Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Dakota Johnson, W. Earl Brown and Juno Temple.

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