- Mark Keyloun, Mike's Murder, 1981. Some of Costner's early roles stayed on the cutting-room floor - here, the entire film did! “Murdered by the Ladd Company,” believed Derbra Winger. Kevin was among 200 unknowns seen to partner Winger. And he was “star material” according to casting man Wally Nicita. “Without batting an eye, Kevin gave an absolute perfect, incredible, cold reading - and he was gorgeous. The kid just had it when he walked into that room... all the natural instincts of the greats.” James Bridges did not agree. And who's ever heard of Keyloun?
- William Hurt, Body Heat, 1981. For his directing debut, writer Lawrence Kasdan rejected three actors who went on to make his second film, The Big Chill: Tom Berenger, Kevin Kline and Costner.
- Michael Nouri, Flashdance, 1981. Apart from Kevin and Nouri, the others auditioning for Nick Hurley were musicians - Bob Geldof and Gene Simmons of the Kiss group.
- Richard Gere, An Officer and a Gentleman, 1982. Read for the Zack Mayo role after John Travolta quit. So did Dennis Quaid and Eric Roberts. Gere refused the role eight or nine times, recalled director Taylor Hackford, until producer Don Simpson“just made him do it.”
- Michael Madsen, WarGames, 1983. He left to be the dead pal in The Big Chill… a nd landed on the cutting-room floor.
- Kurt Russell, Swing Shift, 1983. Next to read with Goldie Hawn after Kevin left was Kurt, deemed “awful cute but too young for me” when they met briefly during her audition for her first film, Disney’s The One And Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, 1968. She got lost on Dopey Drive and asked a passing woman the way. “That woman,” said Russell at his audition, “was my mother.” The two stars have lived together ever since this film.
- John Malkovich, The Killing Fields, 1984. Kevin tried to get in and failed.Costner v Puttnam, Part One.
- Robert Urich, The Ice Pirates, 1984. He refused. “I’m the rat going forward on the treadmill. From the outside, it might look like I’m going in circles, but I feel I’m going like hell.:
- Sam Elliott, Mask, 1985. He tested and “the doubt of success crept in.I was the kid in the back seat asking: When are we going to get there?”
- Mel Gibson, Mrs Soffel, 1985. “But I never questioned being on the right road.”
- Patrick Swayze, Grandview, USA, 1984.His American Flyer director John Badham wanted him. Not vice-versa.
- JeffBridges, Jagged Edge, 1985. Kevin rejected it. Bridges won an Oscar nod.
- Tom Berenger, Platoon,l986. “The one role that I regret refusing. My brother Dan was a Marine in Vietnam and had a problem with Vietnam movies that show vets as wigged-out guys. He’s very proud that he came back... went to college and has a family. In fact, Platoon was real and right… But my consciousness was with my brother.”
- Nicolas Cage, Raising Arizona, 1987. Kevin auditioned three times for the Coens, Joel and Ethan, for HI McDunnough. Or, Herbert to his Ma.
- Sean Penn, Shanghai Surprise, 1987. He spurned $1m. Well, he had noticed when he kept saying no, the price went up. Reaching $800,000 that year for The Untouchables.
- Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
- Harrison Ford, Frantic, 1987. Wanted: For a Roman Polanski thriller… an open-faced, all-American boy, honest, trustworthy, fairly strong physically, someone who becomes what he isn’t - frantic. When his wife disappears from their Paris hotel suite - phffft! like that - while he’s in the shower. Polanksi considered Costner, Jeff Bridges, Dustin Hoffman, then had dinner in Paris with ET scenarist Melissa Mathison to discuss Steven Spielbegr’s Tintin project. And she brought hubby along…
- Tom Berenger, Betrayed, 1988. Everyone advised him against refusing Costa-Gavras’ heavy racist tract for a second consecutive baseball film. Everyone wuz wrong. The second ball movie was director Phil Alden Robinson’s simply gorgeous Field of Dreams.
- Jason Patric, The Beast, 1988.
Costner v Puttnam, Part Two. “You haven’t got a monopoly on passion,” Kevin told David Puttnam when the Columbia chief, with all the insight that rapidly made him the ex-chief by release time, refused to let Kevin Reynolds cast his Fandango pal as deputy commander of the title Russian tank in the Afghan war. Costner wanted to help his friend’s third feature win more attention by being in it. They made Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, 1991, and the infamously expensive Waterworld in 1995 - and broke apart each time.
- Willem Dafoe, Mississippi Burning, 1988. The screen relationship with Gene Hackman - his partner in No Way Out- was too similar to that opposite Sean Connery in The Untouchables.
- Dennis Quaid, Everybody’s All American (UK: When I Fall In Love), 1988. He preferred a field of baseball to one for football.
- Michael Douglas, The War of the Roses, 1989. “I really wanted to do it [with Debra Winger], but Revenge got in the way.”
- Alec Baldwin, The Hunt For Red October, 1989. Costner and Ford passed on the first film of the Thomas Clancy books about CIAanalyst Jack Ryan. “Harrison was always my first choice from the moment I read the book,” said producer Mace Neufeld. “But he wanted to play the Russian submarine commander.” “It was,” said Ford, “the better part.” Ford headlined the next two Ryan thrillers and Costner was the boss of the fourth Ryan, Chris Pine, in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, 2012.
- Richard Gere, Internal Affairs, 1989. UK director Mike Figgis said Paramount wanted Mel Gibson or Kurt Russell (big hits in ’88’s Tequila Sunrise) as the badass cop-cum-hit man. “If we’d hired a movie star to play Peck,” noted producer Frank Mancuso Jr, “we might not have been able to so successfully explore the darkness of the character.” Some 19 other stars - Costner, Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta - and four outsiders Richard Dean Anderson, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Ron Silver - all passed Peck to Gere for a double whammy comeback with Pretty Woman. “I’ve never been away,” snapped Gere. Oh, but he had. Almost to Palookaville.
- Don Johnson, The Hot Spot, 1990.
reRobert Mitchum was the matrix for drifter Harry Madox - and first choice in 1962. Nearly 30 years later, it was to be Mickey Rourke and Debra Winger. Or Costner, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Dennis Quaid, Tom Selleck, Sam Shepard, Patrick Swayze opposite Ane Archer, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Theresa Russell, Uma Thurman and ultimately, Virginia Madsen. Not necessarily for this movie… Replacing UK director Mike Figgis, Dennis Hopper totally changed the entire gig! In a 2014 AV Club interview, Johnson explained how three days before shooting began Dennis “called a meeting. ‘OK, we’re not making that script. We’re making this one.’And he passed a script around the table that had been written for Robert Mitchum in the ’60s... based on a book called Hell Hath No Fury… Wow! The Figgis script was really slick and cool, and it was a heist movie. But this was real noir. The guy was an amoral drifter, and it was all about how women were going to take him down… And that was the movie that we ended up making.” Hopper’s Last Tango In Texas was hailed by Chicago critic Roger Ebert as “a superior work in an old tradition.” He wuz right!
Richard Gere, Internal Affairs, 1989. UK director Mike Figgis said Paramount wanted Mel Gibson or Kurt Russell (big hits in ’88’s Tequila Sunrise) as the badass cop-cum-hit man. “If we’d hired a movie star to play Peck,” noted producer Frank Mancuso Jr, “we might not have been able to so successfully explore the darkness of the character.” Some 19 other stars - Costner, Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta - and four outsiders Richard Dean Anderson, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Ron Silver - all passed Peck to Gere for a double whammy comeback with Pretty Woman. “I’ve never been away,” snapped Gere. Oh, but he had. Almost to Palookaville.
Rob Lowe, Bad Influence, 1990. Kevin did not play a villain until the serial killing Mr Brooks in 2007.
Bill Campbell, The Rocketeer, 1990. Johnny Depp, Vincent D’Onofrio, Emilio Estevez, Matthew Modine, Bill Paxton, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell were also in the Disney frame for Cliff Secord flying around 30s’ LA in Alan Arkin’s rocket backpack. When interviewing Campbell - in Paris for the opening - he told me he’d spent the previous night climbing the North face of… Notre Dame cathedral! For fun. Not a camera in sight.
Robert Downey Jr, Air America, 1990. Casting, and script, went through numerous changes but still beaten by Good Morning Vietnam as first ‘Nam comedy. When Bill Murray parachuted, emphasis switched to Costner - “notknown, too pricey.”
- Harrison Ford, Presumed Innocent, 1990. One of many he passed due to 18 months of wolf dancing - shooting for five months. “If you’re going to be an ass as a director, you'd better be a good one.”
- Warren Beatty, Dick Tracy, 1990. Too young. Too busy. Dancing in temperatures ranging from 115 down to-20
- Tom Hanks, Bonfire of the Vanities, 1990. Still dancing with his two wolves, 42 period wagons, 300 horses, 500 extras, 3,500 buffalo.
- Michael Madsen, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
- John Heard, Home Alone, 1990. An astonishing 37 stars (Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, etc) were considered for the forgetful parents - nothing roles in a film written for and duly stolen by the stranded kid, Macauley Culkin.
- Alec Baldwin, The Marrying Man, 1991. Now editing what Hollywood was calling Kevingate. Would have been better box-office than the reported shenanigans of Baldwin and future bride Kim Basinger.
- Nick Nolte, The Prince of Tides, 1991. Director and star Barbara Streisand offered him the role of the unemployed, aimless and miserably married Tom Wingo.
- Patrick Bergin, Robin Hood, 1991. Suddenly, Robin Hood was The Hero again, with two, then three films planned .Costner wanted one - when the script was right - but no sequel! He committed to one and then, another company cannily signed his buddy, Kevin Reynolds, to direct theirs. “Did Morgan Creek know that Kevin would be more interested in working with me, as a friend, than with John McTiernan at Fox? I don't know. They probably did. Did they hire me because they wanted to try to lure Kevin away from the Fox project? I don't know. They probably did.”
- Michael Douglas, Basic Instinct, 1991.
- Gary Cole, Son of the Morning Star, TV, 1991. “Costner is Custer” ran the NBC ads. Only he wasn’t. Held up on an movie, he was substituted by Cole - in his all-time favourite role - as the project becamea TV rather than Republic cinema release.
- Andy Garcia, Hero, 1992. One Capraesque tale was enough.
- Robert De Niro, Mad Dog and Glory, 1992. An offer from co-producer Martin Scorsese - to be a timid police photographer, given a girl called Glory for a week by a grateful gangster. De Niro swopped roles with Bill Murray to become Mr Shy Guy.
- Harrison Ford, The Fugitive, 1993. Last time Dr Richared Kimble went on the lam, it took 120 hours during 1963-1967 to prove he didn’t kill his wife. Ford managed it in 130 minutes. After surpassing Costner, Alec Baldwin, Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia and Nick Nolte.
- Kevin Kline, Dave, 1993. Yes, one touch of Frank Capra was obviously enough, as Costner backed away (after Warren Beatty and Arnold Schwarzengger) from Ivan Reitman's comedy about a US President’s double. HIs Oval Office set was cast next in The American President and Nixon in 1994 and The West Wing, 1999-2006.
- Liam Neeson, Schindler's List, 1993.
“I very much wanted to play Schindler!” said Costder. “There was a moment when I wanted to direct that movie and so I would've played Schindler” - the German businessman who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews. Steven Spielberg was still shying off stars - well, look what they did to Hook. “Liam did a spectacular test. I like the fact that he’s not a star - won’t bring much baggage to the character.” The result finally won Spielberg his first Oscar on March 21, 1994. (Kevin has a son called Liam).
- Sam Neill, Jurassic Park, 1993.
- Tim Robbins, The Shawshank Redemption, 1993. He passed on escaping jail as Andy Dufresne to spend more time but not enough, it seemed) on his new pet project, Waterworld, 1994. Owch! Also in the frame (up) for Stephen King’s prisoner #37927, were: Jeff Bridges, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen. Plus both Toms . Cruise and Hanks.
- Dennis Hopper, Waterworld, 1994. After the first month’s shooting, the Kevins - Costner and Reynolds - still had no villain. Well, Costner - already doubling as producer and star - wanted to be both hero and villain! Instead, they looked at Gary Busey, James Caan, Laurence Fishburne, Gene Hackman, Samuel L Jackson, Gary Oldman. Before playing safe.
- Woody Harrelson, The Cowboy Way, 1994. Kevin was working on the material, when Glenn Close started campaigning for her then lover. “They walked down the beach to my house, unannounced,” said producer Brian Grazer, “and she went on and on and on talking about Woody in the third person. Such a typical Hollywood story.”
- Kurt Russell, Tombstone, 1994 .Did his own OK Corral - and lost the battle.
- Woody Harrelson, Natural Born Killers, 1994. Warners wanted strong names, Stone wanted Harrelson. And the studio asked:Is he nuts?
- Brad Pitt, Se7en, 1994. Costner and Nicolas Cage were in the mix for young cop David Mills investigating murders inspired by the seven deadly sins in Ridley Scott’s “dark, grisly, horrifying and intelligent thriller” (as per Roger Ebert). Pitt made an appropriate $7m.
- Ed Harris, China Moon, 1995. Miami homicide cop for cameraman turned director John Bailey.
- Tom Hanks, Apollo 13, 1995. Hanks was thisclose with the Imagine team (Brian Glazer, Ron Howard) responsible for his first real Splash.
- Liam Neeson, Michael Collins, 1996, Kevin had been planning his own Mick, at Orion deal before joining Warners in 1991.
- Val Kilmer, The Ghost and The Darkness, 1996. Paramount would only go ahead with Costner, Tom Cruise or Mel Gibson although writer William Goldman was sure none “would sit around while the lions ate the movie.”
- George Clooney, One Fine Day, 1996. “Men will like him because he’s a viable advocate for their position. And women, obviously, love him.” Michael Hoffman could have been discussing Costner… only it was Clooney.
- Val Kilmer, The Saint, 1996. Roger Moore played Simon Templar for 118 tele-chapters, stayed with the company making Return of the Saint with Ian Ogilvy. His 80s and 90s plans were to produce a St Pierce Brosnan (!) or being the ageing hero, finding his illegitimate Saint son - nearly Ralph Fiennes for director Sydney Pollack. “It was a troubled production,” said Moore. Final director was Philip Noyce and Moore was out - “first time I was paid not to act in a film” - and junior Saints were in. George Clooney, Kevin Costner, Daniel Day-Lewis, Johnny Depp, Ralph Fiennes, Mel Gibson, Hugh Grant, even Arnold Schwarzenegger. Plus a certain James Healey, the Irish-born Aussie who actually rejected Mad Max for its sparse dialogue (!) in 1978, leaving the superstar route clear for Gibson. Oh and thje terrible Kilmer, of course. who later admitted to Moore: “We really screwed that up, didn’t we?”
- Matthew McConaughey, A Time To Kill, 1996. The studio wanted Kevin. He wanted total control. John Grisham, the (powerful) novelist, refused.
- Brion James, The Fifth Element, France, 1996. Auteur Luc Besson deigned to ask the Dances With Wolves superstar for the secondary role of General Munroe. Bruce Willis had the lead. Besson finally won Costner (and got him a career Cesar award) on 3D2K – Three Days To Kill). 2013, another of the Besson empire’s auctioners usually, er, Taken by Liam Neeson.
- Will Patton, The Postman, 1997. “Yes, I thought of playing the evil character Bethlehem. Then, I put on my producer’s hat and realised while it was a flashy role, it’d be a mistake for me... a disaster filmically. The only reason to play Bethlehem would be... vanity.”
- Harrison Ford, Air Force One, 1997. President Marshall was written for Kevin, who helped develop the film, only bowing out when tied up with actor-directing The Postman. (Owch again!) “Every time I asked precise questions about the role, I was told: It’s gonna be an enormous hit. That put me off it and I recommended Harrison.” Ford always thanked him for his gesture - the film was a giant hit.
- Nicolas Cage, Snake Eyes, 1998. Brian De Palma required $75m. No, said the studio, $65m. He tried and came up with $72m. OK, said the studio, if you use one of these stars: Costner, Nicolas Cage,, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson.
- Sean Penn, The Thin Red Line, 1998. In March 1995, Costner joined Lukas Haas, Ethan Hawke, Dermot Mulroney, Martin Sheen, among others, in the first reading at producer Mike Medavoy's house of auteur Terrence Malick's first script for 20 years.
- Bruce Willis, Armageddon, 1998. Willis was more experienced at saving the world. Or, saving America, at least.
- Kevin Spacey, American Beauty, 1998. Chevy Chase, Jeff Daniels, Tom Hanks, Woody Harrelson, John Travolta and Bruce Willis were also in the mix for the miserable spouse/father, Lester Burnham. UK stage director Sam Mendes fought hard for Spacey. “There’s one thing better than having a really good actor, and that’s having a really good actor who has never done this kind of role before.” Spacey won his second Oscar despite masturbating in the shower - the high point of Lester’s day: “it's all downhill from here.”
- Harrison Ford, Random Hearts, 1999. For the fifth, the great picker-upper of roles fell for Sydney Pollack’s film about people finding that their partners (killed in an air crash) were lovers.
- Michael Douglas, Traffic, 2000.Stupid decision - it proved the film of the year! Douglas brought something extra to the Soderbergh ensemble - a pregnantactress lover!
- Alec Baldwin, Pearl Harbor, 2001. A character role, for once, not the lead.
- Clive Owen, Beyond Borders, 2002.
Producer Peter Guber claimed everyone attached to the film became so fed-up with Costner’s demands that he was fired. “When an actor tries to control a project’s destiny,” wrote Guber, “they only control their own. Foreign distributors didn’t want him, Stone didn’t want him, audiences didn’t want him and neither did we." Ralph Fiennes replaced him - but left when director Oliver Stone quit. Owen was at RADA with Fiennes. But no onecould save this turkey. Budget: $35m, US take: $4.5m.
- David Carradine, Kill Bill: Vol 1 & 2, 2003-2004 . Warren Beatty pulled out and Kevin was away aactor-directing Open Range.
- Paul Giamatti, Lady in the Water, 2005. Costner was being run up the flagpole for the hero of director M Night Shyamalan’s seventh fantasy - a sad sack apartment block manager called Cleveland Heep who gets involved with Story, a Narf from the Blue World. Now read on...
- Nicolas Cage, World Trader Center, 2006. Director Oliver Stone contacted A-Listers George Clooney, Mel Gibson. Costner was attached for a spell. Then, Stone discovered his agent had also sent a script to Cage.
- Patrick Wilson, Watchmen, 2008. Not so much “Who watches the watchmen?” as Aristotle asked, but who them playeth? In the 90’s when Paramount was into a script by Sam Hamm (Batman, 1988) based on Alan Moore’s forcibly retired superheroes were called back to duty in an alternate 1985 America... Costner, John Cusack, Nathan Fillion, Richard Gere, Joaquin Phoenix were up for the athletically-intellectually brilliant (192 IQ) Dan Dreiberg (aka Nite Owl II), with more gadgets than 007. (Fillion was also shortlisted for Edward Morgan Blake aka The Comedian).
- Larry Hagman, Dallas, TV, 2011. Efforts were made since 2002 to reboot the iconic 1978-1992 series (and tele-films) for the cinema. Result? This pilot for a 2012 series... about JR and Bobby’s rival sons. Directors, stars, genres changed: Robert Luketic, Gurinder Chadha quit, Betty Thomas was to shoot a Southfork comedy; Drew Barrymore, Minka Kelly, Catherine Zeta-Jones were named for Pam, James Brolin as Jock and Jane Fonda, Diane Ladd or Shirley MacLaine as Miss Ellie. Despite some talk of Costner, Mel Gibson and Tommy Lee Jones, Travolta remained #1 choice for the villainous oil tycoon JR Ewing. Finally, the original JR led the old-timers returning to their (very) old roles. Series died in 2014.
- James Remar, Django Unchained, 2011.
- George Clooney, Gravity, 2013. When Robert Downey Jr ejected from the science fiction marvel (“technology and Robert are incompatible,” explained Alfonso Cuaron), the Mexican auteur talked “with a bunch of people” for astronaut Matt Kowalski - Costner, Daniel Craig, Russell Crowe, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks (he loves astronauts, right?), John Travolta, Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis. Most backed off, annoyed that the woman astronaut, Sandra Bullock, had most of the film entirely to herself. “More like 2001 than an action film,” said a delighted Clooney.
- Tom Berenger. Hatfields & McCoys, TV, 2012.
“I make Westerns because I want to, not because the timing is right.” Costner’s feud mini-series scored up to a staggering 14.3m viewers on the History Channel. As producer, he had a wide choice of characters to choose from. “I thought about playing Jim Vance…loved that role...”
- Andrew Howard. Hatfields & McCoys, TV, 2012. “...I liked “Bad” Frank but it made more sense for me to play Devil Anse Hatfield. I had to put my producer’s hat: What was the right place for me to be? Not: How can I surprise people... Devil Ansemade the most sense and, I got involved in this as any role I ever had.”
- Billy Bob Thornton, Trial, TV, 2015. Amazon made global headlines when securing Costner for a series for is new TV wing. But as the cliché goes: talks fell through. Billy Bob jumped at Billy McBride, a US Rumpole of the Bailey type, hot-shot lawyer laid low and suddenly going head-to-head against his former partner. Script by David E Kelley and his Practice and Boston Legal producer, Jonathan Shapiro.
- Peter Sarsgaard, The Magnificent Seven, 2016. Due for some shock villainy reminiscent of Henry Fonda in Once Upon A Time in the West, Costner passed. Easily. Director Antoine Fuqua’s guys were no match for the celebrated originals they were desecrating. No wonder that Christian Bale, Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Wagner Moura also passed on the re-hash. Two more flew to Marvel: Benedict Cumberbatch for Doctor Strange, Jason Momoa became Aquaman.