Every now and then, an actor comes along who just owns an entire genre of movies. Think about the Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks heyday of romantic comedies, Will Ferrell in sports comedies — or of course, Kevin Costner and baseball.
Over the years, the actor has starred in two of the greatest baseball films ever made (1988’s “Bull Durham” and 1989’s “Field of Dreams”), and an underrated near-classic (1999s “For Love of the Game”). Now 61, the self-professed fan of America’s national pastime has begun telling people that he wants to make one more baseball movie — about the Chicago Cubs, the longest-losing team in the history of organized sports, who 108 years later seem like they could finally be on the verge of winning another World Series.
“I think I have one more in me,” Costner tells Larry King. “It has to do with the Cubs … I got to get it written.”
Below, five reasons why Hollywood needs to put all their superhero films, sequels, prequels and reboots on hold and hand over every spare writer, director and CG-wizard to Costner to help get this thing made.
More than the game
Kevin Costner baseball movies are about so much more than baseball. In “Field of Dreams,” he was a man following his gut, laughed at by everyone, with only his blindly-supportive wife (Amy Madigan) at his side. In “Bull Durham,” there were deeper messages about mortality, the fact that youth is wasted on the young, and the bliss of (all kinds of) passions. “For Love of the Game” presented a night in the life of Billy Chapel, spinning a masterful perfect game as he thinks back on the importance of family, the brotherhood of a team, and his own impending obsolescence.
With the Cubbies, Costner would have his ripest material yet. Whether you love the game or not, Costner always finds ways to make his baseball movies appeling by making them about far more than what’s happening on the diamond.
He moves like a ball player
Long-forgotten are the days when Jimmy Stewart would go into Monty Stratton’s wind-up with his legs stiff or Gary Cooper would swing right-handed and they’d have to reverse the film negative to make it look like Lou Gherig’s lefty swing. Costner’s baseball classics single-handedly raised the bar on actors portraying athletes — the result of a star who cares enough about the game to actually hang around it on his days off.
At 61 years old, of course Costner is too old to portray another Crash Davis or Billy Chapel. So, rumors are already swirling that the actor would portray the team’s manager — and as baseball fans know, the Cubs have baseball’s ultimate rock star manager in the brilliant, unorthodox, frequently hilarious Joe Maddon.
The thought of Costner portraying Maddon — who has been known to inspire his team by bringing penguins into the clubhouse or hold press conferences wearing a catcher’s mask — can’t help but put a smile on your face. Of course, there’d also be a great symmetry to seeing the star come full circle and play a mentor role.
If you make it, they will come
Much like when Clint Eastwood said goodbye to the Western with “Unforgiven” or Harrison Ford did Han Solo again in “The Force Awakens,” there’s a certain itch that gets scratched when you see a beloved actor return to the genre that made them iconic.
These days, everything from “Power Rangers” to a “Pokemon” movie is getting greenlit based on little more than name recognition and the hope that there is a built-in audience. But, it could be argued that four decades of people falling in love with Kevin Costner baseball films creates an even more sizeable built-in crowd than many such projects.
This is what he believe in
Why else should Hollywood let Kevin Costner make any baseball movie he darn well wants to make? Because maybe, just maybe, he can cook up one more speech like this.