Top of the Morning, March 25, 2014

Top of the Morning, March 25, 2014

A former Illini gymnast, Andres Saavedra didn't flinch when NBC asked him if he could perform on the high bar for a skit that would air during last Friday's "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon."

Even if it meant doing it wearing jeans. And shoes. And a wig that made him look like Kevin Bacon.

"I have dark, black hair," Saavedra said. "So I needed a wig. I don't look anything like Kevin Bacon."

In the wildly popular finished product — if you haven't seen it, it's right here on YouTube — he sure did.

NBC on Monday said the video highlights of Bacon's ode to the 30th anniversary of "Footloose" on Jimmy Fallon's show — in which Saavedra served as the 55-year-old actor's stunt double — had been watched 7.3 million times.

"It's great that it shed light on Andres and on Illinois gymnastics," UI men's gymnastics coach Justin Spring said.

Paul Ruggeri, an NCAA champ while at Illinois, originally got the call to do Bacon's gymnastics routine. But he handed off former teammate Saavedra, who met NBC's criteria in that he was close by (New Jersey) and fit (he's training for the Pan Am Games).

Saavedra said they asked him to do "nine or 10 takes in a old-school gym" and invited him to New York's Rockefeller Center for the show's taping. During rehearsals, Bacon even chatted him up.

"He said 'great job' " Saavedra said. "Meeting him was awesome."

It was enough to make Saavedra, 28, watch "Footloose" for the first time the next day.

His Bacon impersonation netted Saavedra a paycheck as well as new-found popularity. Will it lead to more acting roles?

"My name's out there now," he said. "Who knows?"

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (1):People