Kevin Bacon is a great actor and an icon in show business. But he's also so much more than that.

He has inspired a social phenomenon ("Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon"), while demonstrating an instinctive understanding of viral Internet content that has led to a lot of memorable videos over the years, including this week's #FreetheBacon campaign for more Hollywood male nudity, posted at Mashable.

amNewYork spoke with the 57-year-old about his unique image and playing a villainous sheriff hunting the kids who stole his car in the new thriller "Cop Car," out Friday.

This is a high-quality B movie. What's the value in this sort of filmmaking?

I feel like you have to market the film with the fact that it's a thriller, and the fact that "Cop Car's" written in blood, and people can tell that I'm an intimidating character. But you want to hope, at least I hope, that part of what people walk away with is this story of a loss of innocence. I find it kind of touching and sad.

You've been making small movies like this for your whole career.

We live in a time where it's challenging to get anybody to see a small film, an independent film, and "Cop Car" is also unusual in that it's an independent film but it's not an independent film in the sense of an awards season drama or an affliction, a disease. It's an indie that plays like a big movie.

You've made a lot of web videos and there have been headlines imploring Hollywood to cast you in a comedy. Is all this a plot to do more funny movies?

It's funny, these things, I started doing little bits like this quite a few years ago. I did a couple for Funny or Die. I did something called "The Kevin Bacon Movie Club," where you order movies and I actually come over to your house and deliver them and watch them with you. I've done a little bit of comedy in the past. Look, I don't know. This is not a conscious effort to change that. It's fun. I like it.

Given all that and your embrace of the Six Degrees phenomenon, it seems like you understood the Internet pretty early.

I feel like, yeah. I don't think I understood it, necessarily, but I wasn't afraid or threatened by it. Although, it took me awhile to get my head around social media. ... With the Six Degrees thing, it really did go viral before we even called something going viral. While I was initially horrified by it, it didn't go away. Eventually, I was forced to embrace it and I turned it into this charitable component. The idea that it was just an idea was kind of cool in a way. It wasn't something you could hold in your hand or sell or buy. There's no revenue stream attached to "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." There's no way to monetize it. So that, in itself, was interesting to me.