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On the 'Water' Front

Reports surface of star Kevin Costner and director Kevin Reynolds troubled relationship on the set of ‘Waterworld’

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When it rains it pours — especially on the set of Kevin Costner’s tsunami-prone Waterworld. The latest squall: Last week, director Kevin Reynolds walked off the film because of creative disagreements with the star. Costner will finish editing the film. How serious is the damage? So far the production has survived hurricane threats (most of it was filmed on the ocean near Kawaihae harbor in Hawaii), a run-amok budget (edging upward of $175 million), bad press (The Wall Street Journal dubbed it ”Fishtar”), and shifting corporate winds (Seagram Co. plans to purchase controlling interest in MCA/Universal, the film’s distributor). After all that, losing Reynolds may seem minor, but talk about embarrassing.

Waterworld is Costner and Reynolds’ fourth film together. But the two have always had a ”love-hate/hot-and-cold relationship,” according to Morgan Creek exec Larry Katz, who’s worked with them. It got especially chilly during the editing of 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, when Reynolds bolted from the production, again because of creative differences with Costner.

Who’s to blame for this latest tempest? A production source says Reynolds was the heavy, that he was completely ”noncollaborative.” Others point the finger at Costner. ”What you’re seeing is a star going through a middle-age wig-out,” says one studio executive, who’s familiar with Costner’s various projects. Still, nobody seems ready to count Costner out — even if he does end up making the biggest disaster movie in Hollywood history. ”We’d work with Costner again, anytime,” insists Universal’s Tom Pollock. ”Star power does not diminish because of production problems.”

Benjamin Svetkey, with reporting by Pat H. Broeske and JW