Kevin Bacon says he didn't actually turn down Patrick Swayze's role in 'Ghost'

A composite image of Kevin Bacon, left, at the premiere of "Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F" in June 2024 and Patrick Swayze, right, as Sam in the film "Ghost."
Kevin Bacon told Business Insider that he doesn't recall turning down Patrick Swayze's role in the film "Ghost."Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images; CBS via Getty Images
  • Kevin Bacon said he didn't turn down the role of Sam Wheat in the 1990 movie "Ghost."

  • The part was played by Patrick Swayze.

  • "I don't think I would've turned it down," Bacon told Business Insider. "I have no memory of that."

Kevin Bacon's acting career has included standout performances and roles that got away, but there's one bit of film trivia he wants to set the record straight on. Asked if he really did turn down the role of Sam Wheat in "Ghost" — which ultimately went to Patrick Swayze — he shook his head.

"No, I wish," Bacon told Business Insider's Caralynn Matassa in the latest installment of our Role Play interview series. "I don't think I would've turned it down. I mean, I have no memory of that."

Bacon also heaped praise on Swayze as the right choice. "And by the way, the other piece of that is 'Ghost' without Patrick Swayze — I don't know. It could have gone nowhere," he added.

Patrick Swayze on a train on the set of the movie "Ghost."
Kevin Bacon said that he would have remembered if he passed on a part in the film "Ghost," which starred Patrick Swayze.Paramount Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

"Ghost," directed by Jerry Zucker and released in 1990, starred Swayze as Sam, a banker who was murdered. After his death, Sam's ghost tries to save his girlfriend, Molly Jensen (Demi Moore), from danger through the help of a psychic named Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg).

In Swayze's 2009 memoir "The Time of My Life," cowritten by his wife Lisa Niemi, the actor said that he felt he was perfect for the role of Sam after reading the script, but Zucker wasn't keen on him. Instead, Swayze said that a number of notable actors in Hollywood were "under consideration" for the part, including Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, and Tom Hanks.

Swayze was granted an audition, where he acted out six scenes and convinced Zucker that he was right for the role.

The film went on to become a box office slam dunk, grossing $505.7 million on a $22 million budget. "Ghost" was also nominated for five Academy Awards; Goldberg, who Swayze fought to get cast, took home the award for best supporting actress.

Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze costarred in "Ghost."Paramount Pictures

Despite not turning down a role in "Ghost," Bacon said that there are still roles that he wanted but missed out on. But he's made his peace with it because it's part of the territory.

"Being an actor is a lifetime of rejection. It's a lifetime of getting just close. I think the only one that pops into my head is 'Raising Arizona,'" Bacon said, referencing Joel and Ethan Coen's 1997 film that starred Nicolas Cage.

"Part of the reason is because I love the Coen brothers so much," he said. "They went on to make just so many incredible movies, and I had a meeting with them and completely fucked it up. So that's the one that resonates with me."

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