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SYFY WIRE The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Kevin Bacon on what it was like joining the Marvel universe as himself in 'Guardians' holiday special

"This is a whole other universe — literally a planet where these people were talking about me."

By Benjamin Bullard
Marvel Studios’ Special Presentation: The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Even for a swashbuckling merc like Peter Quill, the mythic Kevin Bacon has remained a legendary, distant, larger-than-life figure…at least, that is, until now. Thanks to a little felonious good cheer from Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and the gang, worlds are finally colliding at Disney+, where Quill’s pop culture hero turns up live and in the flesh — and maybe even a little bit, uhm, kidnapped — in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.

Quill’s impeccably good taste in music, movies, and more Earthly treasures first put Bacon on Marvel fans’ radar all the way back in 2014, when Star-Lord flagged the Tremors and Footloose icon as one of the planet’s coolest people in the first James Gunn-directed Guardians film. Speaking recently with Entertainment Weekly, Bacon said he learned of his initial MCU call-out the same way as any other fan: by buying a ticket and seeing the movie in a theater.

“I knew it was going to be a cool movie because James was involved, but I had no idea that I was name-dropped in it,” said Bacon, who’d previously teamed with the director in 2010’s black comedy Super, which tells a very different kind of superhero tale. “So, that was a real shock. I would say it's almost like an out-of-body experience. It's one thing if somebody uses your name in a comedy or drama, but this is a whole other universe — literally a planet where these people were talking about me.”

Bacon was so stoked by that first Guardians shout-out that he dragged actor Kyra Sedgwick, his actual spouse, back to the ticket office for a second showing of the movie — this time to surprise her with Star-Lord’s Marvel-ous name mention. “I called up Kyra, and I said, ‘I want you to see this movie…First off, it's awesome. Second, there's something really crazy that happens in it, and I'm not going to tell you what it is.’”

Fast forward to the present, when Gunn came calling with bigger plans to bring Bacon into the MCU fold. The actor reportedly didn’t hesitate at the chance to leap headfirst into whatever wild scheme the Guardians had in store, and being a part of the Holiday Special — albeit as a reluctant human “Christmas present,” as Drax puts it — came as an eye-opening experience.

“I like to make fun of myself or play some heightened version of me. I don't get a chance to do things that are fun and silly that often,” Bacon told EW. “I'm often part of something more dramatic or some kind of darker, edgier stuff. So to go down and step into this world… I mean, they call it the Marvel Universe, but when you walk onto these sets, you really do feel like you're walking in another universe.”

Perhaps the coolest part of Bacon’s in-person introduction to Gunn’s assembly of goofballs was getting to know the characters up close — even if he never actually got to hang out with the team when they weren’t in full costume. “I never saw the cast outside of their makeup, so meeting them was just like [their characters],” he confessed. “I still, to this day, have never spent time with them in their own clothes. So, it's kind of a funny thing to step into and have everybody call you Kevin Bacon all day long.”

Marvel cheekily teases the Holiday Special as Bacon’s career coming-out party, “introducing” the megastar like he’s just gotten his first big break. Thankfully, you don’t even have to break for the theater to catch Bacon in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special: Starting today, Nov. 25, it’s spreading the gang’s special brand of silly Christmas cheer at Disney+.

Looking for more holiday hijinks? Check out the Hallmark Channel hub streaming now on Peacock.