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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

How Kevin Costner Helped ‘Bull Durham’ Find Studio Backing at the 11th Hour

In the meantime, Harris called to say that Kevin really liked the script and wanted to meet. Almost immediately we were having lunch at a small place on Melrose called the Studio Grill. We hit it off and then he said one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever heard from an actor:

COSTNER: I like the script. I want to audition for you.

SHELTON: If you want the part, you got it already.

COSTER: No, I want you to see if I can play baseball well enough.

SHELTON: I said the part is yours.

COSTNER: You played professionally, I played in high school. I gotta pass the test.

He then ordered a couple of vodkas for both of us. Lover of spirits though I am, I never imbibe at lunch because I fall asleep; plus I don’t care for vodka. But we downed the drinks and headed to a batting cage on Van Nuys Boulevard in the Valley, a few acres of miniature golf courses, noisy arcades, and a batting cage where you could pick the speed of the machine and test your skills for a quarter. I brought a pocketful of quarters, but first we played catch in the parking lot. One catch and one throw is all it takes to know if someone can play, and clearly he could. Each of us, it seemed, kept a glove and ball in the trunks of our cars for reasons neither of us questioned, though I don’t remember using mine before or since. While we played catch, people walked past Kevin, not knowing who he was. That was about to change.

In the cage, he had a beautiful right-handed stance and then offered that he could switch-hit and flipped to the other side and had the same form left-handed. I thought immediately that wherever the sun was, he could be lit beautifully. It also occurred to me that if Crash Davis was a switch-hitting catcher, he surely would have had a longer run in the Show than 21 days, but that was just me. Kevin was an athlete, and as we left the batting cage, I told him I was going to call the producer and figure out how to move forward.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 05, 2022 at 12:27 AM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baseball in movies

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: July 05, 2022 at 04:07 PM (#6085635)
I was trying to remember what Costner's first big movie was. Looked up on IMDB and I'm still slightly mystified. It seems all minor parts than he shows up as the #3 or 4 guy in "Silverado" which I don't recall doing very well (nor do I remember it beyond its existence). Then suddenly he's the lead in "The Untouchables" and "No Way Out" which were pretty big movies. Then Bull Durham but that's the sort of "small movie that hits big" that propels a guy from no-name to leading man rather than one with a big name leading man.

Anyway, was The Untouchables** really Costner's first turn as a leading man? Seems an awfully big film for that. Or was one of those movies I don't remember at all his big breakthrough?

** Yes there's "American Flyers", a CYCLING movie (with a terminal illness angle) so I assume 30 people saw it in the theaters.
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: July 05, 2022 at 04:14 PM (#6085639)
Clearly, Tim Robbins did not demand the same kind of test.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 05, 2022 at 04:20 PM (#6085641)
Costner's scenes were cut from "The Big Chill", so Lawrence Kasdan cast him in "Silverado", which I think was more of an ensemble putting him on par with Danny Glover and Kevin Kline. He did well in that so he got a leading man role in No Way Out and The Untouchables.

I don't think it's that unusual for a future star to really shine in a forgettable flick, I think that happens a lot.
   4. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: July 05, 2022 at 04:26 PM (#6085643)
Costner's scenes were cut from "The Big Chill",
Not quite. He is the corpse in the film.
   5. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2022 at 04:50 PM (#6085652)
Silverado was kind of Costner's first role that the public saw him in and Fandango was the movie that kind of showed Hollywood what he could do. Fandango had Spielberg pushing for it and had a decent cast and decent support behind it.

After that Spielberg put him in Amazing Stories and then he got the lead role in No way Out.

I even remember Siskel & Ebert reviewing American Flyer.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 05, 2022 at 05:27 PM (#6085656)
I think American Flyer was the first nudity I ever saw in a film. My dad was a cyclist so he loved that movie.
   7. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2022 at 05:54 PM (#6085658)
I think the beginning of the campfire scene was in the Siskel & Ebert review and I remember that very vividly still to this day.
   8. Mike A Posted: July 05, 2022 at 06:14 PM (#6085660)
Found this on the Untouchables casting (from Cinemablend):

"When director Brian De Palma was casting 1987s The Untouchables, he originally wasn't looking at relative newcomer Kevin Costner to play Eliot Ness, but instead, TV sensation Don Johnson....one of The Untouchables producers, Art Linson, was interested in an up and coming actor named Kevin Costner. De Palma says he was skeptical of Costner because the actor had yet to play a major lead role before. Since Costner had been in Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories anthology series on TV, and been part of Lawrence Kasdan's ensemble cast in Silverado, De Palma called the two directors to get their opinions on Costner. Apparently, both gave De Palma glowing recommendations, and the decision was made."

I guess when Spielberg and Kasdan vouch for you, you're doing OK. I read the Costner didn't even need to audition, which seems crazy in a film with heavyweights DeNiro and Connery. But at least they got Kevin instead of...Don Johnson?

It should be noted that though Costner filmed No Way Out before The Untouchables, it was actually released after.
   9. Greg Pope Posted: July 05, 2022 at 06:23 PM (#6085661)
It should be noted that though Costner filmed No Way Out before The Untouchables, it was actually released after.

Memory is a funny thing. I was going to post that Costner's breakout role was No Way Out and then he solidified his stardom with The Untouchables. Oops.
   10. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: July 05, 2022 at 06:28 PM (#6085662)
My first was either Airplane! or Enter the Dragon. First on TV though was before then, on Monty Python on public TV.
   11. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2022 at 06:32 PM (#6085663)
I think Mickey Rourke was also a possibility for the role of Ness.

Untouchables was also Costner's first million dollar role.
   12. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2022 at 06:36 PM (#6085664)
The interesting thing about Costner is that while Untouchables might have been his first big Hollywood blockbuster movie the Ness character is a dud of a role. It's the Bull Durham and Field of Dream roles that made him a bona fide huge star.

   13. Walt Davis Posted: July 05, 2022 at 06:53 PM (#6085665)
#3 ... that's what I mean about a "small film" that puts a guy on the map, at least among critics and directors. It's pretty common for some bog-standard teen flick to have, say, Siskel & Ebert review it as "the movie's not much but a great performance by X, we'll be seeing more of him/her." And even so it would then be a bit unusual to go directly to the "million dollar role" in a fairly big (planned) blockbuster. If that was Fandango then fine, I don't remember that movie one iota (doubt I ever saw it but I don't think I saw Silverado either). The detail in #8 sounds more like what I wondered might have happened -- it wasn't so much he had a big breakout performance, more that he developed a good rep in the industry.
   14. Mike A Posted: July 05, 2022 at 06:56 PM (#6085666)
Ebert also thought Ness was a dud of a role, calling Costner's performance 'wooden' and 'dull.' Thumbs down for Kevin and the movie. But on the other hand, Siskel loved The Untouchables and Costner's performance.

Then they completely flipped direction on No Way Out, with Siskel giving it a thumbs down and calling Costner 'uninteresting.' Ebert, however, thought the movie and Costner were terrific.

(Yes, I've been having fun watching old Siskel and Ebert shows on YouTube.)
   15. Walt Davis Posted: July 05, 2022 at 07:07 PM (#6085667)
The first "BOOBIES!" moment that I recall was Valerie Perrine in what appears to be "Steambath" which showed on PBS. (Though judging from the imdb page, it may have been a "naked female butt" moment but Ms Perrine, now 78, was well-known for her boobies.) Pretty much just a filmed play as I recall. IMDB tells me it had Bill Bixby (pre-Hulk, post-Courtship of Eddie's Father). The waiting room for heaven is a steam bath, God is a Puerto Rican janitor (Hector Elizondo won an award for the original). Wiki tells me the original stage production was directed by and starred Tony Perkins.

I'm trying to remember whether Ms Perrine's boobies make an appearance in Slaughterhouse Five. If so, it's possible I have confused that with Steambath.

Re: #14 ... man did I have a thing for Sean Young for a few years there.
   16. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: July 05, 2022 at 07:16 PM (#6085668)
I remember Steambath and I think you are right that there were boobies. I think in my experience, the Carol Cleveland's boobies predated my viewing of Steambath.
   17. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2022 at 07:24 PM (#6085669)
They literally have a website for this
   18. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: July 05, 2022 at 07:24 PM (#6085670)
From VP's wiki:

She then became the first actress to appear nude on American television by exposing her breasts during the May 4, 1973, PBS broadcast of Bruce Jay Friedman's Steambath on Hollywood Television Theater. Only a few PBS stations nationwide carried the program.
   19. McCoy Posted: July 05, 2022 at 07:35 PM (#6085672)
When I was a kid PBS had a show about the Jazz Age I think and they would show old film from back then with censor bars over the breasts only the bars didn't do a good job covering dancing girls breasts. Don't know if they did that on purpose or not.
   20. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: July 05, 2022 at 07:35 PM (#6085673)
(Yes, I've been having fun watching old Siskel and Ebert shows on YouTube.)
It's kinda fun watching them go nuclear on each other in the review of Casino.
   21. JRVJ Posted: July 05, 2022 at 07:43 PM (#6085675)
In re: American Flyers, at a certain point in the mid 1980s, it seemed like Rae Dawn Chong was in every darned movie on cable.
   22. JRVJ Posted: July 05, 2022 at 07:56 PM (#6085678)
20, I'm actually in the middle in re: Casino.

The "documentary" part of the movie is outstanding. The main storyline can drag a little.
   23. Brian C Posted: July 05, 2022 at 09:20 PM (#6085684)
I think Casino is pretty great, but it would be even more great if someone better than Sharon Stone had played Ginger. I think her performance is a lot weaker than the character or storyline ... she definitely looks the part, but she's simply not a very talented actor, especially compared to DeNiro and Pesci.

Similar Scorsese problem in his more recent Silence, too - Andrew Garfield is just too vapid of an actor to carry off the character, and the movie suffers from it to some degree, not least because he's playing against Adam Driver and Liam Neeson.
   24. chisoxcollector Posted: July 05, 2022 at 10:47 PM (#6085695)
I absolutely believe that Silverado was Costner’s star making performance. It’s still my favorite Costner performance. He is absolutely electric, which is not something I’ve said about any other Costner performance.
   25. Ron J Posted: July 06, 2022 at 12:49 PM (#6085743)
#24 Yes. I really enjoyed him in Silverado. I like an awful lot about that movie and this surprises me because if you gave me a plot synopsis in advance my reaction would be, "pass"
   26. Mr. Hotfoot Jackson (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: July 06, 2022 at 03:54 PM (#6085774)
She then became the first actress to appear nude on American television by exposing her breasts during the May 4, 1973, PBS broadcast of Bruce Jay Friedman's Steambath on Hollywood Television Theater. Only a few PBS stations nationwide carried the program.


Explains the surprisingly explicit (or so memory tells me) scene shown in a segment I caught at the end of the CBS Morning News back then.
   27. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 06, 2022 at 04:29 PM (#6085782)

I absolutely believe that Silverado was Costner’s star making performance. It’s still my favorite Costner performance. He is absolutely electric, which is not something I’ve said about any other Costner performance.


Seems like Westerns are a genre he should get back to, say in a television series format.
   28. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 06, 2022 at 04:41 PM (#6085786)
Seems like Westerns are a genre he should get back to, say in a television series format.

He was good in "The Highwaymen" with Woody Harrelson, as the Texas Rangers who got Bonnie and Clyde. That was a pseudo-Western.
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: July 06, 2022 at 05:22 PM (#6085795)
He was good in "The Highwaymen" with Woody Harrelson, as the Texas Rangers who got Bonnie and Clyde. That was a pseudo-Western.


And I thought he was great in A Perfect World, which was set in Texas.
   30. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: July 06, 2022 at 05:30 PM (#6085797)
Seems like Westerns are a genre he should get back to, say in a television series format.
I thought he, Duvall, and Bening worked quite well together in Open Range.
   31. McCoy Posted: July 06, 2022 at 05:56 PM (#6085809)
There's an anecdote told about Costner and Eastwood when Eastwood was directing Costner during A Perfect World. Costner went into that film as an A list star and stars are incredibly influential as to how a film gets made. Costner disagreed with some of the choices Eastwood had made so he walked off the set. Normally your star walking off the set shuts down the shoot for however long they're gone and it's usually a power move to get things moving in their direction. Well, Eastwood is notorious for not taking shvt that holds up his shoots so he just Costner's scenes with a stand in. Costner found out and rushed backed. Eastwood said something like I can shoot this movie with or without you.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 06, 2022 at 06:26 PM (#6085814)
Well, Eastwood is notorious for not taking shvt that holds up his shoots

He's also notorious for getting everything shot in one or two takes. He's doesn't lollygag around.
   33. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: July 06, 2022 at 06:51 PM (#6085817)
Seems like Westerns are a genre he should get back to, say in a television series format.


Not sure if this was sarcastic or not, but he's the star of Yellowstone.

edit: yeah, that had to be tongue in cheek.
   34. McCoy Posted: July 06, 2022 at 07:38 PM (#6085822)
Yeah, Eastwood worked so fast and cheap that he got to make Cry Macho as payback for all those films he turned in quickly and cheaply.
   35. Srul Itza Posted: July 06, 2022 at 09:39 PM (#6085842)
I remember seeing Steambath on TV in college with a friend. My friends girlfriend walked in just when two guys playing the gay roles did their scene and walked off with their butts naked, and she started yelling something like "Men's asses on television! Men's asses on television!" TV was a lot tamer back then. When Valerie did her turn, she was just speechless. It was actually an interesting teleplay.

I also remember seeing Silverado in the theaters, and liking it. It was much more a vehicle for Scott Glenn and Kevin Kline, than Glover and Costner, and included roles, bigger and small, for Jeff Goldbum, Brian Dennehy and Linda Hunt, with a cameo by John Cleese as a sheriff. Eclectic, to say the least. As I recall, what made it stand out was that Hollywood had largely soured on Westerns for quite some time, and it was the first Big Western to come out in a while.

   36. baxter Posted: July 06, 2022 at 10:35 PM (#6085849)
Someone made a Kurt Russell reference on another thread intended, perhaps for this thread.

Kurt Russell played minor league baseball. I learned this many, many years ago watching him on the Tonight Show (w/Carson)

Russell said there was an umpire he couldn't stand, so Russell purposely contracted a social disease and seduced the umpire's wife.

I think this is a tort, or perhaps a crime. But, it got a big laugh out of audience (if indeed it were even true).

Sure beats the story (which I cannot find on internet, so maybe it's untrue) of Mickey Mantle hating one umpire so much that Mantle tried to hit the ump on throws from the outfield.

Kevin Costner, well very successful. Interesting there's also a Bill Bixby reference; can't tell who's better. Bixby was great /sarcasm/ in Ride Beyond Vengeance as Gloria Grahame's beau (featuring two way athlete, no pun intended) Chuck Connors.
   37. Ron J Posted: July 07, 2022 at 02:05 AM (#6085863)
#35 I think the real key to Silverado is that you had a director who recognized what he had and allowed the cast to play to their strengths. This is a movie that could have turned out ... forgettable at best. But it has plenty of moments that I remember fondly.
   38. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: July 07, 2022 at 08:35 AM (#6085871)
Kurt Russell played minor league baseball.

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