Kevin Bacon Didn't Have High Hopes For Tremors Until His First Day On Set

The phenomenal success of "Footloose" launched Kevin Bacon into newfound stardom and recognition when it danced its way into theaters in February of 1984. Bacon had already appeared in "Friday the 13th" and Barry Levinson's coming-of-age classic "Diner," but the role of Ren McCormack essentially made the young heartthrob a household name. The surprisingly dark bike messenger drama "Quicksilver" came next, a movie I personally love that didn't exactly light the box office on fire. Working with John Hughes and Christopher Guest on "She's Having a Baby" and "The Big Picture" produced two quality films that showcased Bacon as an unconventional leading man; however, neither movie broke through to the mainstream. 

The heat generated from "Footloose" was burning out, and Bacon, in a recent EW interview, admitted he wasn't doing well financially when the creature feature "Tremors" came his way. 

"I was broke, I had a kid on the way, and my mom had gotten sick, and I felt like I didn't have a choice. I was like, 'Jesus, this is a movie about underground monsters, how far I've fallen.'"

In retrospect, the cult following "Tremors" has gained thanks to a long shelf life on home video helped kick off a wonderful run of performances in the nineties, starting with "Flatliners" and moving into Bacon's reinvention as a character actor with smaller parts in "JFK" and "A Few Good Men." Filming "Tremors" wound up being a "magical time" for Bacon, who found electric onscreen chemistry with co-star Fred Ward. 

'We're professional pretenders'

The staying power of the original "Tremors" is due largely in part to the bromance between Bacon and Ward. The supporting cast, including Michael Gross and Reba McEntire as a gun-toting couple, also helped to flesh out the film with over-the-top characters tasked with battling giant underground serpents called Graboids. But the most enduring quality of "Tremors" has to be the phenomenal creature designs from the legendary FX company Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. (ADI), headed by Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr. ("Alien," "Prey"). Speaking with EW, Bacon recalled what it was like to work with the talented technicians operating the Graboid puppets:

"The super cool thing about 'Tremors' is that 'Tremors' is all practical effects. It was all guys in puppets or people with things on their hands, and wires being pulled. It was ingenious. Acting with a puppet requires some acting, but we're professional pretenders."

Incredibly, there are now seven "Tremors" movies featuring Michael Gross, who graciously took over the franchise and continues to fight the good fight against the Graboids. Bacon never returned to the role of Valentine McKee, even though it has somehow become one of his most memorable roles over the years. Bacon did confirm back in 2018 that the Syfy channel decided not to move forward with a "Tremors" TV show which would have finally brought Bacon back into the fray. Deadline reported on Bacon's comments at the time where the veteran performer revealed, "This is the only character I've played that I've ever thought about revisiting. I just got to thinking, 'Where would this guy end up after 25 years?'" 

It's genuinely perplexing that a "Tremors" series starring Bacon never saw the light of day, but considering the success of nostalgia-fueled projects like "Top Gun: Maverick," maybe there's still time for Bacon to don that cowboy hat once again.