The actor explains how he wound up playing himself in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and how he had ‘no idea’ he was name-dropped in the first Guardians
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Kevin Bacon is ready to wish you a very merry — and very intergalactic — Christmas.  

The actor is officially joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starring as — who else? — himself in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. The 44-minute Disney+ special follows the titular band of cosmic heroes as they cavort around the galaxy, spreading a little holiday cheer and searching for the perfect Christmas gift. Specifically, Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) decide that the best way to impress their earthling leader Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) is to give him a gift he'll never forget: a kidnapped Kevin Bacon.

Technically, it's not the first time Bacon has been brought up in a Marvel movie. Star-Lord mentions the Footloose star in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, referring to him as one of the great heroes of Earth, but here, Bacon actually gets to appear on screen. The result is a festively absurd adventure that finds Bacon outrunning aliens, journeying to distant planets, and even performing a holly-jolly musical number.

"I like to make fun of myself or play some heightened version of me," Bacon tells EW with a laugh. "I don't get a chance to do things that are fun and silly that often. 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."

THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: HOLIDAY SPECIAL
Kevin Bacon (as himself) in the 'Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special'
| Credit: Marvel Studios

Bacon and writer-director James Gunn have a long history together, and the actor starred in Gunn's 2010 comedy Super. So, when Gunn directed the first Guardians movie, Bacon made sure to buy a ticket opening weekend to support his friend. It wasn't until he got to the theater that he realized he was technically in it.

"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," Bacon explains. "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."

In fact, Bacon says, he went and bought a second ticket to see Guardians again — this time inviting his wife, Kyra Sedgwick (who also makes a voice cameo in the holiday special). "I called up Kyra, and I said, 'I want you to see this movie,'" he says. "'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.'"

Years later, Gunn asked Bacon if he'd like to participate in a Guardians holiday special, and the actor gave him an immediate yes. Once Bacon got to set, he was thrilled to share the screen with heroes like Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis, Nebula (Karen Gillan), Kraglin (Sean Gunn), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel) — but he also says that filming wound up being a more immersive experience than he anticipated.

"I never saw the cast outside of their makeup, so meeting them was just like [their characters]," Bacon explains. "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."

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special debuts Nov. 25 on Disney+.

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