By Maureen Lee Lenker
June 22, 2019 at 11:00 AM EDT
Everett Collection; Inset: Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock
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There are a lot of weird alternate Hollywood casting stories out there — from Tom Selleck almost playing Indiana Jones to Russell Crowe as the Dermot Mulroney part in My Best Friend’s Wedding.

But can you imagine Robin Williams as the midwestern farmer who builds a baseball field in his backyard in Field of Dreams? The role as portrayed by Kevin Costner is practically synonymous with the actor and his lengthy career association with baseball flicks (see: Bull Durham, For the Love of the Game, etc.). Yet, Costner tells EW he almost didn’t do the movie.

The actor was in the midst of working on 1990’s Revenge, and production wasn’t wrapping in time to switch course. “I just thought [Field of Dreams] was beautiful, but it wasn’t going to be in the cards,” he muses. But director Phil Alden Robinson held out for Costner, and eventually, he became the face of one of the most beloved sports movies of all time.

For a time though, it looked like Robin Williams might play the role. “There was an idea that maybe Robin Williams was going to do it, who I thought was sensational,” Costner reveals. “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.”

Melinda Sue Gordon

The result was a film that appeals to multiple generations — a parable about the love of the game and the tension between fathers and sons. It contains iconic moments like James Earl Jones’ stentorian speech about “BASEBALL” and one of the only scenes guaranteed to make your dad cry.

“It is a personal favorite,” admits Costner.  “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.”

To read more from Kevin Costner, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands now, purchase a special limited edition cover featuring David Boreanaz (available online only), or collect both! And don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW. 

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