Costner stars as Crash Davis, an aging minor league catcher, who falls in love with team groupie Annie (Susan Sarandon) in the midst of trying to capitalize on the waning years of his playing career. The actor has had legendary chemistry with numerous actresses onscreen, but perhaps none looms so large as his electric chemistry with Sarandon in this sporting romantic comedy.
Part of that is owed to one scene in particular — after finally getting together, the two talk in her kitchen as Crash eats cereal, but soon he’s tossing the cereal aside, as well as everything else on her kitchen island, to make love to her.
Costner tells EW the spirit of the scene was there on the script page, but to really sell it, he piled up that island with as many things as he could find on set that were “reasonable” to be there.
“The physical ballet is where she just finally gets him,” Costner says. “I’m wiping things off without ever taking my eyes off [her]; I’m clearing the table going and looking at her. What I like doing is taking a script, and then finding the physical. So, I loaded up that island. When you really want somebody, [nothing] makes a difference. ‘This crashed? Oh, the milk spilled? Who gives a s—?’ And that leads to blowing on her toenails.”
For Costner, it’s all about considering, How can I help the words? “Those were perfect.,” he reflects. “What I needed to do was find this thing that added to that scene.”
By the time the film premiered in 1988, Costner was well on his way to becoming one of the biggest stars in the world — and Bull Durham helped lock him into primo leading man status, as well as beginning a career-long association with baseball films. Fittingly then, he says Crash remains one of the characters he shares the most within his real life.
“I feel a real affinity to him,” he muses. “That was a highlight situation to play Crash — this American rascal, this ne’er-do-well in heroic defeat.”
It was anything but defeat for him, though, and even allowed Costner, who grew up playing baseball among other sports, to get his own baseball card (they were released as promotional items for the film).
“I’ve been able to live so much of my dreams,” he reflects. “Pitch a perfect game in Yankee Stadium [in For Love of the Game]. And then be on a bench and watch great writing delivered by the great James Earl Jones [in Field of Dreams], and listen to this [monologue about this] sport that America loves but can’t quite get their arms around.”
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