Kevin Costner Was Completely Cut Out Of A Classic Movie

Kevin Costner was cut out of the 1983 classic The Big Chill for artistic reasons.

By Vic Medina | Published

Kevin Costner has been in more iconic films than most actors alive today, but the 67-year-old Yellowstone star was left on the cutting room floor of one of the 1980s most critically-acclaimed films. Costner was a member of the cast of 1983’s The Big Chill, a film from writer/director Lawrence Kasdan that tells a story of a group of college friends who reunite at a vacation home in South Carolina for the funeral of a fellow college friend who committed suicide. Costner was cast as Alex, the friend who committed suicide, and was due to appear in a couple of scenes, but they were cut from the final film.

The film is noted for casting a number of actors who would go on to have monster careers, including Glenn Close, Tom Berenger, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Meg Tilly, and JoBeth Williams. Kevin Costner was due to appear in a flashback scene, but it was cut for creative purposes by writer/director Lawrence Kasdan (who also wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi). The movie actually works better emotionally with Alex remaining an unseen person, whose presence is felt and referenced throughout the film.

Kevin Costner does actually still appear in the film, technically. He appears as Alex’s corpse as the body is prepared for the funeral, but his face is never shown, cut from the theatrical release. The deleted scenes have never been seen – they were not even included with other deleted scenes on subsequent DVD and Blu-ray releases of the film, and no explanation as to why has been given by Kasdan.

The Big Chill went on to become one of the biggest films of the 1980s, and was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Glenn Close), and Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Lawrence Kasdan and Barbara Benedek).

As for the infamous lost Kevin Costner scene, only one member of the cast has ever discussed it: Jeff Goldblum. In a 2018 interview, Goldblum called Costner’s performance in the scene “wonderful,” and said it involved a flashback to a Thanksgiving in which the friends were still in college and celebrating together. Costner is supposed to cut the turkey with a large knife, but can’t bring himself to ruin it by cutting, a bit of irony as his character kills himself by slicing his wrists.

After being cut from The Big Chill, it would take a few more years before Kevin Costner would have his breakthrough role, and he would once again have Lawrence Kasdan to thank for it. In 1985, Kasdan made an ambitious western, Silverado, which starred an all-star cast (with a few Big Chill alumni), including Kline, Goldblum, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover, Rosanna Arquette, Linda Hunt, and Brian Dennehy. Costner was cast as Jake, one of the heroes of the film, and his high-energy performance caught the eye of both critics and Hollywood, and his career took off.

Within a year after the release of Silverado, Kevin Costner appeared in American Flyers and an iconic episode of Amazing Stories directed by Steven Spielberg. In 1987, he landed the iconic role of Eliot Ness in Brian De Palma’s classic The Untouchables, and Costner hit the A-list, never looking back. He followed that with Bull Durham and Field of Dreams, and in 1990, he won Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture for his historical epic Dances With Wolves (he lost the Oscar for Best Actor to Jeremy Irons for Reversal of Fortune).

In the 1990s, Kevin Costner was the biggest movie star on the planet, starring in the films JFK, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Bodyguard, Wyatt Earp, and Waterworld. In recent years, Costner appeared as Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel for the DC Universe. He also starred in Hidden Figures, and The Highwaymen until he teamed with Taylor Sheridan for the hit Paramount series Yellowstone.

After finding fame in Hollywood, Kevin Costner channeled much of his celebrity and influence into a number of charitable and social causes. He founded a company that created a device that helped separate oil from water. It has been used a number of times to clean up oil spills in the ocean, including the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.