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The film is based on a true story

Footloose’s plot – a small town bans teenagers from dancing – is loosely based on real-life events, believe it or not. In Elmore City, Oklahoma, dancing was outlawed in 1898. This remained in place for 80 years, until a group of high school teenagers campaigned to change the law for their senior prom in 1978, and ultimately emerged victorious.

It could have starred Kevin Costner instead of Kevin Bacon

Kevin Bacon wasn’t the only famous Kevin to audition for the part Ren McCormack in Footloose. Kevin Costner was also a contender, but at 29 he was probably deemed too old for the part. Costner wouldn’t get his big break in movies until a year later, with the 1985 western Silverado, then within a few years he was briefly the world’s biggest movie star.

Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe were also in the running for Bacon’s role

Two other potential Ren McCormacks were Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe. Cruise ultimately signed up to the movie All the Right Moves instead, but Rob Lowe was a serious contender for a while, but he picked up an injury that prevented him from taking the part. 1984 would instead see Lowe appear in The Hotel New Hampshire and Oxford Blues.

Kevin Bacon turned down Stephen King adaptation Christine for the role

In accepting the role of Ren McCormack, Kevin Bacon had to pass on another starring role, in 1983 Stephen King adaptation Christine. However, Bacon (who’d already had a memorable horror role in Friday the 13th) had to weigh up his options when he was offered Footloose, so he declined director John Carpenter’s film. The role of Arnie in Christine ultimately went to Keith Gordon.

Madonna was one of many actresses considered for the role of Ariel

Lori Singer stars in Footloose as Reverend Moore’s daughter Ariel, but it was a role that nearly every young actress in Hollywood was considered for. One key contender for Ariel was Madonna, who was already a big name in pop music but hadn’t yet broken through in the movies. Ultimately Madonna would have to wait for 1985’s Desperately Seeking Susan to enjoy movie fame.

Daryl Hannah turned down the role of Lori to make Splash

Other actresses considered for Ariel include Michelle Pfeiffer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rosanna Arquette, Meg Ryan, Jodie Foster and Bridget Fonda. Daryl Hannah was actually offered Footloose’s female lead role, but she turned it down so she could instead take the role of the lovestruck mermaid Madison in fantasy rom-com classic Splash, alongside Tom Hanks.

The Deer Hunter’s Michael Cimino almost directed the film

Credit: United Artists

Given that Footloose is considered a bit of a camp classic, it might surprise you that an Oscar-winning Hollywood heavyweight was originally poised to direct it. Michael Cimino, director of 1978 classic The Deer Hunter, was the first director attached to Footloose. Despite his early success, Cimino was in dire need of a hit following his notoriously expensive 1980 flop Heaven’s Gate.

Cimino was fired as director after demanding too much money

Credit: Paramount Pictures/IndieProd Company Productions

Michael Cimino wound up being fired from the project after he started making extravagant demands: for one, he insisted that he be paid an extra $250,000 to rewrite the screenplay. Herbert Ross (an experienced dance choreographer and director) was hired to direct Footloose instead, and Cimino would instead go on to call the shots on 1985 cop thriller Year of the Dragon.

It was originally entitled Cheek to Cheek

While it’s hard to imagine Footloose under any other title, the project was originally set to be called Cheek to Cheek; a rather different title, implying a rather different kind of dancing. We actually have Kevin Bacon himself to thank for the title Footloose, after he used the term in a conversation with director Herbert Ross.

Kevin Bacon came up with the title Footloose

Bacon, in another notable contribution to the movie, suggested that a planned fight sequence in a steel mill should instead be a dance sequence. Whilst working on the scene, Bacon reportedly told Ross, “I gotta dance, I wanna get footloose.” This struck a chord with the director, who soon decided that Footloose should be the movie’s title.

The actors playing Ren and Ariel’s parents aren’t much older than Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer

Footloose casts John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest as Lori’s parents, Reverend Shaw Moore and Vi, and Frances Lee McCain as Ren’s mother Ethel. In reality, the age gaps between the parent and child actors are quite small. Lori Singer is only 12 and 11 years younger than Lithgow and Wiest respectively, whilst McCain was only 15 when Kevin Bacon was born.

Kevin Bacon went undercover in a high school as research

Kevin Bacon went method to prepare for the role of Ren McCormack. Aged 24 at the time, Bacon went undercover as a new kid at Provo, Utah high school, where only the principal and guidance counsellor knew his true identity. Bacon admits he’d intended to do one full day of high school, but only managed a few hours because “basically I was terrified.”

Bacon’s jeans were made extra-tight on purpose

If you’ve ever found yourself gasping at just how snug Bacon’s jeans look in Footloose, rest assured this was in no way an accident. Bacon recalls, “I remember having these pants on that were unbelievably tight already, but weren’t quite tight enough for some of the shots. [The costume department] would take them and pin them from behind so they were really skin tight.”

Kevin Bacon broke out in hives shooting the town hall scene due to his fear of public speaking

You might not expect an actor to have issues with public speaking, but it was a source of huge anxiety for the young Kevin Bacon, who struggled terribly with nerves when shooting the pivotal town hall scene where Ren speaks out against the dancing ban. It was so bad that Bacon suffered an outbreak of hives. Eventually he took a valium to steady his nerves.

The cast and crew ran afoul of Utah townspeople because of their partying

The Utah town where Footloose was shot was almost as conservative as the film’s fictitious setting – so many locals were suspicious of the film’s cast and crew. Bacon recalls, “I don’t think we were completely trusted… a lot of people thought we were doing the devil’s work. There were reports of skinny-dipping in the hotel pool, illicit sex and drugs – all of which were true.”

John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest went skinny-dipping in their hotel pool

Art doesn’t always imitate life. John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest – who play Lori’s ultra-conservative parents – were even wilder than their younger co-stars off camera. After they skinny-dipped in their hotel pool, Lithgow recalls, “There was a memo sent out to every member of the production the next morning from (producer) Dan Melnick that said, ‘Behave yourselves.’ It was directed to Dianne and me.”

Chris Penn’s dance training montage was added because Penn really couldn’t dance

The key subplot of Renn teaching Willard how to dance – reaching its peak in the training montage set to Let’s Hear It for the Boy – was added specifically because of Chris Penn. The actor (who sadly passed away in 2006) really didn’t know how to dance when work on Footloose began, so the montage really does capture his training and transformation.

Bacon had four stunt doubles during the filming of the warehouse dance scene

Bacon may have been cast based on his ability to cut a rug, but the actor couldn’t do absolutely everything himself. Bacon himself has confirmed having “a stunt double, a dance double and two gymnastics doubles.” The double who performed much of the famous warehouse dance sequence was dancer Peter Tramm.

Sarah Jessica Parker almost missed out on playing Rusty

As well as Kevin Bacon, another future Hollywood star who got her first big break appearing in Footloose was Sarah Jessica Parker. The actress had her doubts about playing Rusty as she was told to cut her hair and dye it red, which she was reluctant to do; once it was agreed she didn’t have to do this, Parker signed on.

The original ending was entirely slow-motion

Director Herbert Ross originally had a somewhat different vision for Footloose’s closing prom sequence, shooting it entirely in slow-motion. However, when producers had their first test screenings of the movie, it immediately became clear that this wasn’t the bombastic climax they really needed for their film about the joy of dancing.

Producers spent $250,000 re-shooting the closing prom sequence at the last minute

The producers quickly raised $250,000 with which to completely reshoot the climax, a mere six weeks before Footloose opened in theatres in February 1984. The producers then went on a last-minute talent hunt, scouring nightclubs on New Year’s Eve 1983 to find the very best dancers they could for Footloose’s grand finale.

The soundtrack contains two massive US number one hits

Footloose’s foot-tapping soundtrack proved as popular as the film itself. Obviously, the film is most synonymous with the title track Footloose by Kenny Loggins. The soundtrack also boasts Bonnie Tyler’s bombastic Holding Out for a Hero, and Let’s Hear It for the Boy by Deniece Williams, which also became a number one hit single in the US.

Kevin Bacon bribes DJs to NOT play the Footloose song at weddings

Kevin Bacon has been known to bribe DJs at weddings to not play Kenny Loggins’ Footloose, as people always expect him to do the dance. Bacon told Conan O’Brien in 2013, “I go to the disc jockey, hand him $20 and say, ‘please don’t play that song’… a wedding is really not about me, it’s about the bride and groom. And it’s embarrassing.”

It inspired a Footloose stage musical

A stage adaptation of the movie, entitled Footloose the Musical, was first performed in 1998. While the stage show utilises songs from the movie, it features original music and lyrics by Tom Snow and Dean Pitchford. The show had a mixed critical reaction, and ran on Broadway for just under two years; it also had a brief run in London’s West End.

There was a big screen remake in 2011

In 2011, a remake of Footloose hit screens from director Craig Brewer (Coming 2 America). Actor Kenny Wormald took over Kevin Bacon’s role of Ren McCormack, with Dennis Quaid as Reverend Moore. The film was a modest success, receiving mostly positive reviews and making $63.5 million at the box office off the back of a $24 million budget.

John Lithgow showed a photo of his real son

In one of Footloose’s saddest moment, Reverend Shaw is delivering a grief-filled sermon the day after the car crash that claimed the lives of five teens, including his own son, Bobby. During the scene, Shaw holds up a photo of Bobby which is actually a picture of one of John Lithgow’s own children.

It was Michele Laurita’s final film

Michele Laurita got her start in showbiz at the age of 12 when she provided the voice of Clara in 1974’s Heidi in the Hills. Over the next decade, Laurita appeared as a dancer in a number of TV shows and movies, including Footloose, which ended up being her last film performance. Laurita now works as a cinematographer, and in 1997 she directed a music video for Alanis Morrisette.

Martha Quinn auditioned for the film

Credit: Kelly Sullivan / Stringer

Early on in production, MTV video jockey Martha Quinn auditioned for a role in Footloose, although she’s never specified which part she was up for. While Quinn’s audition was ultimately unsuccessful, she clearly doesn’t harbor any bitterness, listing Footloose as one of the soundtracks she always dances along to.

Scenes were cut to secure a PG rating

Although the final version of Footloose is a relatively family-friendly movie, it was almost a bit more risqué, featuring explicit nudity and several F-bombs. Ultimately, however, these scenes were pared so that the film could secure a PG rating, greatly increasing its potential audience and almost undoubtedly making it a bigger commercial success.

Craft services had to keep Mint Milanos constantly on set

The craft services department responsible for keeping the cast and crew of Footloose well-fed and happy ran into difficulties when it came to sourcing Pepperidge Farms Mint Milanos, which turned out to be everyone’s favorite snack. When supplies dwindled, members of craft services had to drive over 30 miles to Salt Lake City in search of stores that stocked the candy.

In the final scene, the actors were dancing to a different song

The final scene of the film sees the main characters exuberantly dancing to the song Footloose at their prom. Kenny Loggins later revealed that the cast were actually dancing to Chuck Berry’s record Johnny B Goode when the scene was filmed, with the title-track added in post-production.

The Lehi Roller Mills grain house is still operational

Many of the dance sequences in Footloose were filmed inside the Lehi Roller Mills grain house, which is located in the Utah town of Lehi. Constructed in 1905, the grain house is still fully operational, and in 1994 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Kevin Bacon based his look on Sting

Kevin Bacon was a massive fan of The Police when he was working on Footloose, and he ended up basing his character’s spiky-haired look on Sting, the band’s lead singer. In addition to taking fashion cues from The Police, Bacon also mentions the band by name during one of the movie’s scenes.

John Lithgow recalled a heartwarming true story

When John Lithgow was filming Dr. Solomon’s Traveling Alien Show, an extra took him aside and told him how he had grown up in rural Louisiana, and how his father – who was a reverend – had forbidden him from dancing or listening to music. After watching Footloose, however, his father was deeply moved, abandoning his puritanical views and encouraging his son to enjoy himself.

Kevin Bacon turned down a Footloose-themed M&M commercial

He might be one of the world’s most famous actors, but Kevin Bacon isn’t averse to appearing in commercials. However, when Bacon was offered an M&M commercial that would have consisted of him performing the Footloose dance while dressed as the chocolate-candy, he had to turn it down because, strangely, his wife gets freaked out by ads that involve talking food.

Many of the feet in the opening shot belonged to the cast and crew

The opening shot of Footloose contains over 150 pairs of dancing feet, many of which belonged to members of the cast and crew. Kenny Loggins’ feet are easily noticeable in the scene, on account of the flamboyant gold shoes he was wearing, while Kevin Bacon is wearing a pair of tatty Nike high-tops.

Kevin Bacon was nearly in the remake

Craig Brewer, who directed the 2011 Footloose remake, originally wanted Kevin Bacon to make an appearance. Several parts were written with Bacon in mind, including one as Ren’s deadbeat father. Bacon ultimately didn’t feel like he was a good fit for any of the roles, so he turned the movie down, although he gave Brewer his blessing.

Kevin Bacon reenacted the dance in an episode of Will & Grace

Kevin Bacon made an appearance as himself in the hit ABC sitcom Will & Grace. In the episode, Will ends up at Bacon’s apartment and gushingly tells him that he’s a massive fan of Footloose, with the pair then reenacting some of the movie’s famous dance routine (Bacon’s apartment is set up to play the title track whenever he claps his hands).

Kenny Loggins had one issue with the remake

According to Craig Brewer, Kenny Loggins gave the remake a thumbs up after watching it at the premiere. Loggins, however, did take issue with the fact that the car crash scene took place over his original version of the Footloose title-track, stating, “Did you have to kill the kids to my song?”

Roger Ebert hated both versions

Credit: Frazer Harrison / Staff via Getty

Roger Ebert was one of the most revered movie critics of all time, becoming the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. He also absolutely loathed Footloose, labelling it little more than ‘a setup for several dance scenes.’ Ebert was equally scathing when it came to the remake, stating: ‘A bad movie, if faithfully remade, will produce another bad movie.’

Christopher Atkins lost the lead role

Christopher Atkins, the Hollywood teen heartthrob who rocketed to fame after costarring alongside Brooke Shields in 1980’s Blue Lagoon, has claimed that he was offered the role of Ren in Footloose. While Atkins accepted the part, the actor was subsequently dropped because of his out-of-control partying.

Kevin Bacon was unhappy about needing stunt doubles

In a 2011 interview with People Magazine, Kevin Bacon recalled that he was “furious” about needing stunt doubles for the warehouse scene, stating, “It’s like a starting pitcher getting taken out of a game – no one wants to be told they can’t get the guy out.” The actor confessed that needing a stunt double, a dance double and two gymnastics doubles made him feel “horrible.”

Kevin Bacon is impressed by his own audition tape

Even though he was disappointed at needing a bit of help when it came to the dance sequences, Bacon remains generally pleased with his performance. After watching his audition tape in 2011, Bacon admitted that he was impressed, adding: “The energy, the hunger, the determination … it was cockiness really. I oozed it.”

John Lithgow tricked a minister

During production, John Lithgow found that he was struggling to get into the character of Reverend Shaw Moore. In order to get some inspiration, Lithgow contacted a local minister, claimed that he was lonely and asked if they could speak about Jesus. The actor confessed that – while the experience gave him valuable insight – it made him feel like a “snake in the grass.”

The movie inspired the remake’s director to become a filmmaker

Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer / Staff via Getty

Craig Brewer got his start in showbiz at the age of 29 when he wrote, directed and produced 2000’s The Poor and Hungry. 11 years later, Brewer directed the reasonably well-received remake of Footloose, which is fitting since Brewer has stated in interviews that he was inspired to become a filmmaker after watching the 1984 original.

Kenny Loggins and Dean Pitchford wrote Footloose on painkillers

Credit: Cindy Ord / Staff via Getty

When Kenny Loggins and Dean Pitchford met up in Lake Tahoe to compose the movie’s title-track, the former was suffering with a broken rib, while the latter had strep throat and was running a high fever. Both tried to conceal their affliction from the other by loading up on painkillers before their studio sessions, and the track was written in three days.

Footloose has two taglines

Most movies have a catchy or pithy tagline that is used heavily in marketing, but Footloose had two, which were used interchangeably. The first – and notably more catchy – reads, ‘The music is on his side,’ while the second tagline states: ‘He’s a big-city kid in a small town. They said he’d never win. He knew he had to.’

Bon Jovi wasn’t offered the lead

Credit: Emma McIntyre / Staff via Getty

One of the most persistent rumors around Footloose is that Jon Bon Jovi was offered the lead role of Ren, but turned it down to focus on his music career. While a number of celebrities other than Bacon were linked to the role, Bon Jovi has publicly stated that he was never one of them.

A racy scene was restored for the remake

In the 2011 Footloose remake, Ariel kicks off the bus derby by stripping off her shirt. This was actually how the start of the tractor race in the original film was scripted, but the scene ended up getting changed so that the film wouldn’t get rated R.

Footloose was parodied in Hot Rod

Andy Samberg parodied Footloose in 2007’s Hot Rod, recreating the iconic warehouse dance. The scene takes place in the woods, rather than a warehouse, with Kevin Bacon’s dance and gymnastic moves increasingly exaggerated to hilarious effect, and the sequence ends with Samberg’s character plummeting down a steep slope.

The soundtrack knocked Michael Jackson off the top of the charts

Michael Jackson’s 1982 album Thriller is one of the most successful records of all time, spending 37 consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard 200. Thriller was eventually dethroned on April 21st, 1984, when the Footloose soundtrack stormed straight to the number one slot.

Kevin Bacon refused to lie about having dance doubles

Even though he wasn’t happy about needing dance doubles, Kevin Bacon flat-out refused when the studio requested that he pretend he had performed all his own stunts. Bacon’s refusal was partially motivated by the backlash Jennifer Beals found herself on the receiving end of after the actress’s claim she hadn’t used doubles for Flashdance turned out to be false.

Extras were paid $20 for nudity

While it’s not exactly lascivious, there is a bit of brief nudity in Footloose, with a couple of extras shown naked in the background of the locker room. Kevin Bacon later revealed that the extras in the scene received $2o on top of their normal wages for appearing nude.

Kevin Bacon’s Russian Jump has been cut from the film

The ending of Footloose originally included a shot of Kevin Bacon performing a Russian Jump (a difficult dance move that involves doing the splits midair). This shot was eventually cut from the film, but it can still be seen on a few early-release VHS copies of the movie.

Herbert Ross is referenced in the remake

The Footloose remake is dedicated to the late Herbert Ross, who directed the 1984 original. As well as a mention in the end credits, Ross is referenced in the film itself; when the police officer pulls over Ren, his name tag reads H. Ross, and the character is credited as ‘Officer Herb’.