Movie history is littered with almosts. Tom Selleck almost played Indiana Jones. Christopher Walken almost played Han Solo. John Travolta almost starred in both American Gigolo and An Officer and a Gentleman. (Both went to Richard Gere instead, making him a star.) And now we’re learning that Field of Dreams — the sentimental baseball classic — almost starred Robin Williams.
This news comes from Kevin Costner, the actual star of the 1989 weepie, who broke the news to Entertainment Weekly. Granted, Williams wasn’t the film’s first choice; that would be Costner, who almost had to drop out of the role entirely when filming of the thriller Revenge ran longer than planned. When that happened, filmmaker Phil Alden Robinson hatched a Plan B.
“There was an idea that maybe Robin Williams was going to do it, who I thought was sensational,” Costner said. “And when I finally asked Phil, I said, ‘Well, why did you wait for me? Because I think Robin’s really great.’ And he was like, ‘I do, too. But I think that Robin could hear voices in the corn, and I needed a guy that you don’t believe is going to hear a voice in a corn. And I thought that was a really insightful thing. I get a lot of credit for Field of Dreams and all the credit goes to Phil. I just played it.”
A Robin Williams Field of Dreams might not have been that much different. At the time the late actor was finally breaking through as a credible star of dramas, having just earned his first Oscar nomination for Good Morning Vietnam. Instead of Field of Dreams, Williams made Dead Poets Society, which earned him his second nom. So it all worked out in the end.
“It is a personal favorite,” Costner said of Field of Dreams. “I think of it as our generation’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Our big action moment is, ‘Do you want to play catch?’ It wasn’t a fist fight; [it] wasn’t a crash. It was, ‘Do you want to play catch?’ And people’s hearts broke into a thousand pieces.”