|Appeared in||X-Men: First Class|
Bacon left home at age 17 to pursue a theater career in New York, where he appeared in a production at the Circle in the Square Theater School. "I wanted life, man, the real thing", he later recalled to Nancy Mills of Cosmopolitan. "The message I got was 'The arts are it. Business is the devil's work. Art and creative expression are next to godliness.' Combine that with an immense ego and you wind up with an actor."
Bacon's debut in the fraternity comedy Animal House in 1978 did not lead to the fame for which he had hoped, and Bacon returned to waiting tables and auditioning for small roles in theater. He briefly worked on the television soap operas Search for Tomorrow (1979) and The Guiding Light (1980–81) in New York. He refused an offer of a television series based on Animal House to be filmed in California in order to remain close to the New York stage. Some of his early stage work included Getting Out performed at New York's Phoenix Theater, and Flux which he did at Second Stage Theatre during their 1981–1982 season.
In 1982, he won an Obie Award for his role in Forty Deuce, and soon after made his Broadway debut in Slab Boys, with then-unknowns Sean Penn and Val Kilmer. However, it was not until he portrayed Timothy Fenwick that same year in Barry Levinson's Diner – costarring Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Tim Daly and Ellen Barkin – that he made an indelible impression on film critics and moviegoers alike.
Bolstered by the attention garnered by his performance in Diner, Bacon starred in the 1984 box-office smash Footloose. Richard Corliss of TIME likened Footloose to the James Dean classic Rebel Without a Cause and the old Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland musicals, commenting that the film includes "motifs on book burning, mid-life crisis, AWOL parents, fatal car crashes, drug enforcement, and Bible Belt vigilantism." To prepare for the role, Bacon enrolled at a high school as a transfer student named "Ren McCormick" and studied teenagers before leaving in the middle of the day. Bacon did earn strong reviews for Footloose, and he appeared on the cover of People magazine soon after its release.
Bacon's critical and box-office success lead to a period of typecasting in roles similar to the two he portrayed in Diner and Footloose. Bacon would have difficulty shaking this on-screen image. For the next several years he chose films that cast him against either type and experienced, by his own estimation, a career slump. In 1988, he starred in John Hughes' comedy She's Having a Baby and the following year he was in another comedy called The Big Picture.
In 1990, Bacon had two successful roles. He played a character who saved his town from under-the-earth "graboid" monsters in the comedy/horror film Tremors – a role that People found him "far too accomplished" to play – and portrayed an earnest medical student experimenting with death in Joel Schumacher's Flatliners.
Bacon's next project was to star opposite Elizabeth Perkins in He Said, She Said. Despite lukewarm reviews and low audience turnout, He Said, She Said was illuminating for Bacon. Required to play a character with sexist attitudes, he admitted that the role was not that large a stretch for him.
By 1991, Bacon began to give up the idea of playing leading men in big-budget films and to remake himself as a character actor. "The only way I was going to be able to work on 'A' projects with really 'A' directors was if I wasn't the guy who was starring", he confided to The New York Times writer Trip Gabriel. "You can't afford to set up a $40 million movie if you don't have your star."
He performed that year as gay prostitute Willie O'Keefe in Oliver Stone's JFK. He went on to play a prosecuting attorney in the military courtroom drama A Few Good Men. Later that year he returned to the theater to play in Spike Heels, directed by Michael Greif.
In 1994, Bacon earned a Golden Globe nomination for his role in The River Wild opposite Meryl Streep. He described the film to Chase in Cosmopolitan as a "grueling shoot," in which "every one of us fell out of the boat at one point or another and had to be saved."
Bacon reverted to his trademark dark role once again in Sleepers in 1996. This role was in stark contrast to his appearance in the lighthearted romantic comedy, Picture Perfect the following year. Bacon again resurrected his oddball mystique that year as a mentally-challenged houseguest in Digging to China, and as a disc jockey corrupted by payola in Telling Lies in America. As the executive producer of 1998's Wild Things, Bacon reserved a supporting role for himself, and went on to star in Stir of Echoes (directed by David Koepp) in 1999, and in Paul Verhoeven's Hollow Man in 2000.
Bacon, Colin Firth and Rachel Blanchard depict a ménage à trois in their film, Where the Truth Lies. Bacon and director Atom Egoyan have condemned the MPAA ratings board decision to give the film their "NC-17" rating over the preferable "R". Bacon decried the decision, commenting: "I don't get it, when I see films (that) are extremely violent, extremely objectionable sometimes in terms of the roles that women play, slide by with an R, no problem, because the people happen to have more of their clothes on." Bacon was again acclaimed for a dark starring role playing an offending pedophile on parole in the 2004 film The Woodsman; he was nominated best actor receiving the Independent Spirit Award.
Colonel Michael Strobl, an American 'Desert Storm' war veteran. The film premiered on HBO on February 21, 2009. Bacon won a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie for his role.
Bacon and Sedgwick have starred together in Pyrates, Murder in the First, The Woodsman, and Loverboy. They have two children, Travis Sedgwick Bacon (born June 23, 1989 in Los Angeles, California) and Sosie Ruth Bacon (born March 15, 1992). The family resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.