Throwback Thursday: Kevin Costner Hits Box-Office Home Runs With 'Bull Durham,' 'Field of Dreams'

Kevin Costner

Despite naysayers who said "baseball movies don't play foreign," the actor -- who next stars in the football movie "Draft Day" -- signed on to topline the two films in the late 1980s.

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Kevin Costner has done much better with baseball onscreen than he did with it in college.

At Cal State Fullerton during the 1970s, he had a try-out but didn’t make the team. However, he had a hit with 1988’s Bull Durham as a minor-league catcher, and when he agreed to do 1989’s Field of Dreams, he gave a production that had spent eight years in development a boost.

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“Nobody got the story,” says producer Lawrence Gordon. “They’d say baseball movies don’t play foreign, all the crap you get unless you have a high-concept film.”

The naysayers were wrong. The fantasy-drama in which a farmer (Costner) hears a voice telling him to construct a baseball diamond in his cornfield made $84 million ($20 million of it from abroad) and received Oscar nominations for screenplay and best picture. But that wasn’t enough for writer-director Phil Alden Robinson.

“For a long time, I was disappointed by my inability to get onscreen the movie I had in my head,” he tells THR. “Then Sydney Pollack sat me down and told me, ‘I never, never, never get onscreen what I have in my head. Your measure of success should be: Did the audience feel what I hoped they’d feel?’”

For Costner, who already had scored with The Untouchables and No Way Out, the film capped a banner decade; he began the next one with 1990 Oscar winner Dances With Wolves. Now 59, he next tries his hand at football in Draft Day, out April 11.