Why Kevin Costner Got the Role in ‘Field of Dreams’ Over Robin Williams

Field of Dreams Kevin Costner, 1989
Universal/Everett Collection

Field of Dreams, released in 1989, is a classic. The inspiring movie stars Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella, a farmer in Iowa who starts hearing voices in the cornfields and is visited by ghosts of baseball legends from the past, and gets a vision to build a baseball field there. Turns out that Costner almost didn’t get the iconic role. He recently revealed that he was battling it out with the late comedian and actor Robin Williams for the part.

“A good story requires a good script for it to somehow leap off the page and become a movie,” Costner said. “That little movie had gold dust all over it, not in the way that I thought it would be a big hit, whereas gold dust on it in the way it moved me personally.” When Costner heard that Williams was in the running he even told the director “Robin Williams is a big star, as big as you ever wanna get.”

Dead Poets Society Robin Williams, 1989

Everett Collection

However, a nuance of the film is why Costner was chosen. “So when he picked me to do it — kind of over Robin Williams, because it seems like a natural for Robin Williams — he said, ‘I’m pretty sure that Robin Williams hears voices in the corn. I’m kind of sure that you don’t,'” he explained. “‘They’re gonna end up believing you, Kevin, because they’re gonna see how it works.'”

Costner added that he was very moved by the script: “And this little movie in the corn got me all the way, and suddenly it wasn’t a movie anymore, it was truth, and it was — ‘I wish I could have said that in my life.’”

Field of Dreams Kevin Costner, Gaby Hoffman, Amy Madigan, Dwier Brown, 1989

Everett Collection

As amazing as Williams was, it is kind of difficult to see him in the role over Costner. Plus, around the same time, Williams filmed Dead Poets Society, which remains one of his best films.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

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