Kevin Costner’s Must-See True Story Drama Is Nowhere On Streaming

Kevin Costner's film Thirteen Days is not available to stream anywhere, but it might be worth the watch if you're willing to rent it.

By Douglas Helm | Updated

Kevin Costner can usually be seen on the Yellowstone ranch these days, but his peak movie career was probably in the 1990s and early 2000s. However, one of his best 2000s movies, Thirteen Days, is nowhere to be found on streaming services. Unfortunately, if you want to see this historical drama about the Cuban Missile Crisis, you’ll have to pony up a few bucks to rent it somewhere.

Kevin Costner stars in Thirteen Days as White House assistant Kenneth P. O’Donnell, along with Bruce Greenwood as President John F. Kennedy, Steven Culp as Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and Dylan Baker as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. The film is based on the 1997 book about the Cuban Missile Crisis titled The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis, by Ernest R. May and Philip D. Zelikow. Roger Donalson directs the screenplay adapted by David Self.

Surprisingly, Kevin Costner’s Thirteen Days is only the second docudrama about the Cuban Missile Crisis, with the first being 1974’s The Missiles of October. Of course, The Missiles of October was released only twelve years after the actual event, so Costner’s film gives a more accurate depiction since they had access to more information that had been declassified over the years. While the film is dramatized plenty, it’s still a fairly accurate depiction of how things went down from the US perspective.

It’s tough to understand how tense the Cuban Missile Crisis must have been if you weren’t there at the time. Seemingly, one wrong move could have led to the world going to war — with potentially nuclear consequences. While the Kevin Costner film may be dramatized, it probably helps to put you more into the perspective of how close things were to being disastrous.

It’s a shame that this Kevin Costner film isn’t readily available because it’s actually well-reviewed, and the performances are solid. However, those positive reviews weren’t enough to save the film financially. Thirteen Days is known as a box office bomb since it grossed $66.6 million against a budget of $80 million budget.

As mentioned, the movie is fairly accurate regarding the actual events of the crisis, but Kevin Costner’s role is a point of contention amongst historians and former Kennedy administration officials who watched the film. Apparently, they took umbrage with O’Donnell being depicted as the primary motivator and a protagonist during the events. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, portrayed by Dylan Baker in the film, specifically said that Special Counsel Ted Sorensen’s role in the actual event was closer to how O’Donnell was portrayed in the film.

In an interview with PBS NewsHour, McNamara said, “For God’s sakes, Kenny O’Donnell didn’t have any role whatsoever in the missile crisis; he was a political appointment secretary to the President; that’s absurd.” However, he thought that film was accurate overall, saying, “I think it’s an absolutely fascinating portrayal and a very constructive and responsible portrayal of a very, very serious crisis not only in the history of this nation but in the history of the world.” So while Kevin Costner’s character may not have been all he’s made up to be in the movie, it sounds like you can watch it and expect reasonable historical accuracy otherwise.

Another fun fact about the film is that Kevin Costner actually traveled to Cuba in 2001 and screened the film for Fidel Castro. That’s probably something that not a lot of actors have on their resumes. Castro was the prime minister of Cuba at the time of the crisis, so it would have been an undoubtedly tense period for him as well.

If you can spare a few extra bucks, Thirteen Days is well worth the watch. It can also help to hold you over until we find out exactly when Kevin Costner will return as John Dutton in the second half of Yellowstone‘s fifth season. Paramount is still keeping a tight lid on the official release date, but we do know we can expect the episodes to come out in the summer.

Right now, we don’t even know if Kevin Costner will be back for a sixth season or if there will be another season at all. The show has spin-offs on the way, including one led by Matthew McConaughey. We’ll just have to wait and see how things pan out with the flagship series.

As far as movies go, Kevin Costner is also currently working on Horizon, which he’s starring in, co-writing, and co-directing. There’s no news on when we can see that, but it will explore a very different period of American history — pre-and post-Civil War expansion. Until then, you can check out Thirteen Days next time you’re wanting a historical drama from slightly more recent history.