Beyond the Lens
Working with Kevin Costner...Kind Of
Confessions of an Extra
By Robert R. Rees, CyberProfile Contributing
Part I: An Extra's Life
anna be in pictures?" My answer to that "hook" that was placed in the Houston Chronicle was an unequivocal "Yes!" It didn't hurt that the stars of the film were to be Kevin Costner, Don Johnson, and Rene Russo. You see, Warner Bros. had decided to lens key golfing
scenes for their upcoming multi-million dollar opus Tin
Cup at Kingwood, Deerwood, and Northgate Country Clubs--
in Houston and Kingwood, Texas, in November and December of
1995. The newspaper mentioned that "auditions" for extras
for Tin Cup were to be held at a high school near
Kingwood--so I hot-footed it to the school's gymnasium,
where I would be part of a large "cattle call". The fact is
that this film required a minimum of 8,000 extras! In
reality, 17,500 people were ultimately hired. I knew I
couldn't feel too "exclusive" about this if I were chosen to
"perform", but I also figured my chance of being selected
was much better, since they needed so many warm bodies on
the set. I figured right! After sitting on bleachers
filling out paperwork, the large gathering, one by one,
passed by a photographer who took our "mug shots" and
"booked" us. We were told that we would be called in a few
weeks if "our services were required" for the film. The
call came on schedule and I made the initial "cut". I was
told that I was to play a golf spectator, and was to dress
accordingly--providing my own "costumes".
Since I'm not, by nature, a "preppie" style dresser, this
necessitated a visit to the local secondhand thrift shop.
My rate of pay for extra work was $50 per twelve-hour stint,
so I didn't feel I could travel first-class, and pull my
wardrobe together courtesy of Neiman's. Dockers in two
colors were utilized, along with pastel pullover shirts--
faux Izods, if you will. Sunglasses, a straw hat from the
closet, and a pair of moccasins from Payless completed the
look. Voila! One properly equipped golf spectator--but not
quite. We also were told to bring our own props! Gear
included a folding chair, umbrella, and an ice chest.
Providing my own costumes and props for a multi-million
dollar picture was the first inkling that this was not as
classy an endeavor as I had once assumed. Nonetheless, it
was off to the races, as countless hundreds of extras
descended upon the parking lot of the Humble Civic Center,
near Kingwood, in order to board the buses that would
transport us to the appropriate country club site for the
Resembling weary pack mules, more than enthusiastic golf
spectators, we assembled at 5:30 a.m. each day to board the
"rickety old school bus" that would spirit us to our
destination. Might I add it was not only dark, but often
wet and cold as we waited in long lines to board the few
aging buses utilized to accommodate the restless throngs.
Although the movie script dictated that we were North
Carolina residents experiencing a sunny, hot 100-degree July
4th, Mother Nature had other plans near Houston as
we approached winter. Intermittent rain and temperatures
vacillating from the 30's to the 80's were the order of the
day as shooting would commence. An interesting assortment
of characters would people the buses, and hence, the crowd
scenes in the movie.
More women than men were in evidence, but perhaps that was
to be expected. As far as the extras' average age was
concerned, it was as variant as the weather. College
students in their twenties to retirees and golf aficionados
in their seventies would participate in this venture.
Decidedly, however, the youthful to mid-range ages dominated
the proceedings, to no one's surprise. Men and women from
an amazing array of disciplines had volunteered to share
this experience together. Some were just there for the
"fun" and Christmas spending money, while others were dead
serious about breaking into the movie industry in a big way.
After all, I was reminded by one bespectacled youth, "Kevin
Costner got started in show business by first being an
extra." With that thought in mind, I surveyed the crowd.
Yes, he was right--we had some real aggressive "hambones"
helping to populate our upcoming crowd scenes, and hoping to
be noticed by...Hollywood! The dimly lit bus rumbled and
meandered its way toward our destination..."The Tent". It
reposed in deceptive silence, lurking hundreds of yards from
where the bus bid us adieu.
"The Tent" served as a miserable holding tank of sorts for
the unsuspecting masses that would inhabit it. "The Tent"
was actually a group of several white tents lined up end to
end. There had been a big rain storm the night before;
therefore, we stood in large muddy puddles waiting to be
processed, given our pay vouchers, and told to have
breakfast once we entered. A similar line would greet us at
lunch and when we clocked out at day's end. Straw had been
casually and meagerly tossed about inside the canvas
conveyance in a feeble attempt to clot the oozing hemorrhage
that was mud. It was like a bad Fellini movie. We had "The
Tent", the strewn straw, we were the circus elephants...all
we needed was a bag of peanuts, which would have made a
better breakfast than the frequently unhealthy morsels
The most unsavory and curious item was the breakfast
sausage. Often half-cooked, then rewarmed, it made more
returns than frenzied shoppers at Macy's the day after
Christmas. The previous pitiful pork would appear at lunch
hiding in the rice or pasta salads and entrees. Its most
daring appearance was when it tried to unobtrusively
integrate itself into some unsuspecting cabbage shreds and
masquerading as a mystery meat. It would have been more
humorous if some people hadn't become violently ill due to
the unhealthy nature of the worst wurst. I decided it would
be safest to opt for a greasy doughnut and some warm fruit
Suspicious of how meals might be handled, I had taken the
liberty of bringing a peanut butter sandwich with me encased
safely in a Baggie. When it was made clear that we could
not carry extra items with us to the set, on this particular
day, I decided to outwit the powers above. I rolled my
sandwich into a ball and shoved it into the too-short pocket
of my jacket. At least I wouldn't have to worry about
noonday's sustenance. It was now safely concealed on my
Meantime, other dangers lurked inside "The Tent" waiting to
challenge my resolve. During the previous night's
rainstorm, the wind had kicked up the connecting tent flaps
and a temporary gutter had formed up in the air between the
canvas structures. As I cautiously approached a table with
my tray in tow, a new gust of wind blew in, and caused the
tent flaps above me to part company and offer me their cold,
wet contents. I was soaked head to toe, front and back. My
fellow companions' responses ranged from silence, to
mumbling, to laughter. I sat down at a nearby table trying
to make the best of an increasingly bad situation. But like
Job, more troubles awaited me. As I finished my
"continental breakfast", I decided to take notes on my
experiences hence far. When I pressed down on the folding
table to write, it sunk down in the mud, thereby perching
precariously on my thighs. However, since no one on the
other side of the table had applied any pressure, I had
created a "downhill racer" effect for the woman's coffee who
was directly opposite me. Well, at least I had some hot
liquid foisted into my crotch to mix with the chilling
rainwater that had taken up residence in my shorts. Perhaps
all this below-the-waist action had stirred in me the
longing to relieve myself. Maybe it would have been smarter
to remain seated, and let nature take its course--after all,
who'd have been the wiser at this late juncture? But no,
decency forbids, so up I was, and off to the Porta-Cans!
The mud had gotten so bad by now that people were casting
down their unwitting neighbors' temporarily empty folding
chairs to create a "Bridge Over the River Kwai" effect that
left a lot to the imagination. Deft as a cat, I began my
staccato steps on the sinking chairs that would lead me to
satisfaction and fulfillment. Strapped together, over-full
and tilting in the mud like leaning towers of Pisa, the
Porta-Cans were a welcome sight to behold. I opened the
door to the relief station, and stepped carefully up and
inside the shaky contraption. As I turned to close the
door, my balled up sandwich landed smack dab on the soggy
floor. I looked at it for a second and wondered if I should
pick it up. I knew what I had to do. This tantalizing
toilet treasure was, after all, wrapped in plastic, and
destined to be in my stomach in a few more hours. As I
slowly bent over to tentatively retrieve my wayward lunch,
my straw hat fell forward and the satin hatband slipped into
the malevolent muck at my feet. I knew as it began changing
colors that my hatband was consigned to oblivion. Oh well,
that's showbiz, time to get on the set and make a movie!
Part II: The Actual Shooting
The Army's procedures and movie-making practices are very
similar. Rules and directions are constantly changing for
the "cattle" that are urged to "hurry up and wait". Extras
leave the tent in color-coded groups, and take up residence
temporarily with Unit #1, Costner's group, or Unit #2, the
professional golfers' enclave. Following a march of about
one mile, we find ourselves surrounding a lonely hole on the
fairway. Some crew men armed with insecticide canisters are
tending to the turf and surrounding vegetation--spraying it
bright summer green with vegetable dye. Ahh--Hollywood! We
are told by assistant directors how to react to Kevin or
Don's swings at the ball. Sometimes we pantomime our
reactions in complete silence.
The procedure is always the same. "Picture up. Sound
Speed... Rolling... Background... Action." On the word
"background", all the extras do whatever action or reaction
has been previously dictated by the director. Once
completed, it's "Cut!" Inevitably would come the words we
all came to loathe..."back to one." "Back to one" meant
return to your original spot and repeat your assigned
reaction--again and again. Two to three rehearsals were
followed by actual camera takes, usually three or four, as
the picture slowly started unfolding before our eyes: with
us being a part of the whole thing. As soon as it is time
to commence shooting the assistant director tells us to
remove our jackets, in the 40 degree weather, and put our
umbrellas down as the sky opens up on us for another good
"Remember," a jacketed, capped and gloved assistant director
advises, "it's 100 degrees in summer in North Carolina." As
we stand by the lake at the soon-to-be-completed Kingwood
Country Club Fairway, it is really cold. I was in such a
large crowd I knew no one would mind if I kept my thin silk
jacket on. I was mistaken. A hundred pounds of trouble
comes my direction to do battle with me in the shape of one
small assistant director. Snippy, skinny, short and snotty,
the rude power-crazed girl in her early twenties rails at me
for daring to be in the scene wearing a jacket. I proceed
to jam the jacket down inside my Dockers and quip, "Well,
it's a shirt now, so I'm sure there's no further problem."
With this, she pauses and glares at me, then beats a hasty
retreat after one long, exhaled huff escapes her mouse-sized
lungs. Anyway, despite the cold and standing in a large
crowd waiting for Costner to hit a ball...this does beat
staying in "The Tent". In fact, some mornings when the
movie crew wasn't ready for us, we would remain in "The
Tent" until 11:30 a.m. or even 1:30 p.m. Most times we were
out of the "The Tent" by 8 or 9 a.m., which still left hours
to kill each morning.
Part III: On The Set With Kevin and Don
When the principal stars appear on the fairway for the first
time, it is a sight to behold. Not the two stars, so much
as the female extras' response to spying them. Pushing,
elbowing, crowding, gossiping, yelling, whistling, clapping
and well-wishing are the order of the day. Men seem
somewhat subdued, but more than one male eyebrow is raised
when Rene Russo ambles onto the set. Her first scene is to
kiss aging Don Juanson, a.k.a. Don Johnson. It is supposed
to be a brief "goodbye" kiss, but handsome, tanned Don
apparently has other ideas. It is unclear at this time
whether Ms. Russo appreciates how much Don appreciates her.
In any case, the scene is reshot. Resembling Priscilla
Presley and having the ability to act makes it easy to see
why she has Don's and our attention. All eyes are on this
pretty, lanky gal until the main star makes his appearance,
Enter the star of the film, Kevin Costner. He casually
steps out of a golf cart, and onto the course already eyeing
his first shot. Determined steps are followed by a playful
grin that runs across his face, as he brushes back his thin
windblown brown hair across his tan forehead. Kevin shakes
his head and scratches it, as he is greeted by male extras
teasing him with wolf whistles. One dishevelled woman
screams, "Do you believe in God?" Costner wears loose
butter-colored silk or linen trousers that billow in the
wind like boat sails. To complete "the look" he has added a
black pullover shirt, two-tone saddle oxford golfing shoes,
sunglasses, and a golf caddy in the person of one Cheech
Marin. That's right--Cheech, as in "Cheech & Chong", is
here to offer non-drug humor via his role as Costner's
sidekick. Fun-spirited and affable, he is, in general, more
serious and professional than one might think.
Kevin's first task on this day, early in the November
shooting schedule, is to ricochet a ball off a Porta-Can.
Costner yells good naturedly, "Let's put a man in the can to
balance it when I hit it." We extras realize this is not
going to be another Costner drama or adventure. Instead,
he's having a go at a comedy-romance vehicle. After
"Waterworld" we could all use a laugh, that's for sure.
Kevin swings and does several Porta-Can retakes for Ron
Shelton, the director. Ron is finally satisfied with
Kevin's posturing, and the ball's resulting location on the
greens. Shelton, a baseball capped, hard, curly-haired
Californian, directed Kevin in "Bull Durham". He indicates
this is almost a continuation of that film, or "Bull's
further adventures later in life." Now the cameras are re-
positioned and the same action is repeated several times to
be captured at various angles.
After his successful Porta-Can shot, Kevin, according to the
script, cleaves the crowd like Moses parting the sea. We
are told to rush him repeatedly, and congratulate him on his
funny trick shot. Sometimes we only pantomime our responses,
as if we're in a time warp, and have slipped back 75 years
to a Buster Keaton two-reeler. The reason for pantomime is
so that the performers' dialogue will come out clearly for
the ever-present boom mike floating perilously above the
actors' heads. "Sound can be mixed or added to a scene, but
not taken out," an assistant director advises an inquiring
mind. Costner and Johnson putt, drive and exchange small
talk. Extras line the bowing, crowded ropes, repeat their
reactions, and follow Kevin and Don, like lemmings, blindly
and obediently down the fairway.
At one point, the second unit director yells, "We have too
many women at this rope! It looks like a damned garden
party! No more than two women stand together. Women,
choose a man and bring him up to the rope with you." Voila!
We guys became instant husbands or lovers--for the duration
of the shooting day. Tedious, repetitive and boring: movie-
making has its good points, too! This lifts us guys'
spirits at the very least. I acquire a "Stepford" style
wife for the afternoon. We are assigned to bleacher-sitting
for a time. Then they call, "Background", we leave the
stands, and begin walking toward the concession stand--over
At this point we are able to observe Don Johnson more
closely. This ex-"Miami Vice" Lothario saunters out to the
golf cart with a gait reminiscent of Jack Benny. His visor
doesn't conceal the brown straight straw-like hair that
fringes his neck. On the rare occasion when he wants to
"register" with the public, he turns on his boyish charm:
the lively eyes and toothy smile that are his trademark.
However, he, unlike Costner, seems insincere and rather
aloof most of the time. Self-absorbed and vain are words
that come to mind, as well. Who knows? Maybe he's just
having personal problems once again, or maybe he's insecure
playing the aging second fiddle to Costner's character. We
hear rumors about nightly partying and perhaps he's off the
wagon--but who knows for sure? At any rate, he remains
alone and lost in thought frequently. Even when Don hits a
female spectator in the head with a golf ball, it is Kevin,
not Don, who does the apologizing.
V-room! I dodge a fast-moving golf cart only to find out
it's single-minded Kevin cruising down the path at a good
clip. His goal is to quickly gain access to the hole where
he plans to do some practice putting on lunch break.
Oblivious for the moment, Kevin nearly steps on my feet in
his hasty strides to the hole in question.
I was warned back in "The Tent" that no cameras were
allowed, and we could not seek autographs. Just now I hear
a "click" beside me while I'm watching Kevin putt. I
realize a man had pulled out a camera, and gotten away with
snapping a quick shot of Kevin on the green. Hmmm. I knew
then what I had to do. Since I was planning to turn this
whole experience into a journalistic work, it was imperative
that I illustrate the piece with appropriate graphics. So,
one day after shooting, I went to a toy store and purchased
toy binoculars. At Wal-mart, I picked up an inexpensive
disposable Kodak camera. With spray paint I created a black
camera and small binoculars to match. Now all I had to do
was "Super Glue" the binoculars to the top of the camera,
and conceal the box part of the device within my hands. I
was ready to take unauthorized photos on the set of Tin
Cup, while appearing to view the set action through
field glasses. I knew what the penalty was if I got
caught,as I'd seen a guy suffer that fate earlier in the
An extra's camera was confiscated, and he was fired on the
spot. His was not an isolated dismissal. I noticed several
extras get fired for secretly drinking on the set, while
another guy was given his walking papers when he attempted
to offer Ron Shelton a script while the director was between
takes. Still, there was the case of the extra playing a
security guard, who was supposedly terminated for tapping on
the producer's door at lunch and requesting a few lines of
dialogue to fatten her part. And don't joke about a lack of
security on the set, that indiscretion got a guy bounced,
There are some light moments on the set, especially as we
approach the long Thanksgiving weekend--our first days off.
Between scenes, some women in the crowd get Cheech's
attention and ask him if he could have Don Johnson come over
to their clique and talk for a minute. Cheech bellows,
"Hey, D.J., go over to the crowd. Some women over there.
They say they want to grope you, man." The women laugh, but
don't counter the charge. Cheech is then advised by the
director that he'd like less "mugging" in the scene. Cheech
likes to play to the crowd, at times, rather than to the
lens. At one point in the film, just for effect, when
Kevin's ball is missing, it is located under a pile of
leaves--teed up. Further, someone's golf sandal says, "Hi,
Ron" when his foot is lifted for a close-up shot. And
finally, when a ball lands in the water at one point, it is
shot up in the air and rolls back on the course--courtesy of
a finely tuned pneumatic pump and air hose device,
previously positioned in the pond. Heads turn, and golf
cart after golf cart cruise by with characters resembling
the Blues Brothers inside them. Then we see why. Secret
Service. Former President George Bush is paying a visit to
the set since he lives in nearby Houston, and is an
acquaintance of Costner. Not to be upstaged by two-legged
illuminaries, a little red Miniature Doberman, with stitches
in its stomach wanders upon the gawking crowd. The dog soon
finds refuge back in the arms of his co-owner, Mrs. George
Foreman, who lives not far from the golf course.
Things improve for me, as I'm upgraded to the position of
"specialty featured background artist". Simply put--this
means I made the "cut" from the big group down to
progressively smaller groups, until I'm one of the last
couple of dozen extras the production staff decides to
retain. In this manner, I'm able to be close to the main
action of the film--or be a part of it. I am assigned to
Unit No. 1, the Costner unit.
Forget my personal costumes, they have other plans now for
me. They send me to the Wardrobe tent where I am fitted for
my "important" role as a "yard technician" (groundskeeper).
My 36" waist got me this role. If I had a 32" or 34" waist,
I'd have been a security guard instead. But as fate would
have it, all those pants sizes were in use. As it turns
out, I am utilized as much, or more than the security guards
are! Got a new pair of boots, fudge-colored pants, khaki
shirt, and a safari hat. Oh, and a rake, too, to complete
"the look". Polaroid snapshots are taken as a method of
ensuring continuity and control from day to day. Pants are
hemmed easily and quickly with tape, and pins will gather
material, if needed. Instant fit.
Now it's out to the location, this time at Northgate Golf
Course. A false front for North Carolina's Pine Hills
Country Club has been created at what will one day serve as
an entrance to a subdivision in a northwest Houston suburb.
Painted foamcore, plastic, and wood all resemble cement and
brick as this facade comes to life for a brief moment in
Several extras are asked to follow Kevin and Cheech's
ancient, dirty Winnebago to the club's entrance, in their
cars. Proper procedure dictates that they lose their front
license plates, while their back ones are removed and
replaced by North Carolina plates. Though they won't be
seen in the film behind their windshields, more than one
woman spends most of the day re-applying makeup and fluffing
hair. Extras in cars are told to start their engines, shift
to drive, "goose" the accelerator a bit, then turn off the
key to the ignition, and coast into the club entrance. The
reason for this ploy is to make sure noisy engine sounds
don't detract from Kevin, Cheech's and Don's confrontational
dialogue at the guard gate.
Skinny-legged and with several days beard growth, a tired-
looking Costner emerges from the Winnebago in Bermuda shorts
to curse Don's character. "Psst." Though I'm not in this
scene, my concentration is broken by the wardrobe assistant
who whispers to me, "Are you trying to be the coolest of the
groundskeepers? Don't tilt your hat back. Lose your
sunglasses. Button your shirt up to the neck, and lose
those rolled shirt sleeves." Oh well, I tried! I am asked
to rake leaves and show little reaction, as Costner explodes
and cusses at Don Johnson and security for denying him
entrance to the country club. I do as I'm told, but am
aware of the camera placement, and rake with my head held
high. And why not take my hat off to fan my face in this
hot Carolina sunshine? Ha! My bid for immortality--who can
blame me? Wardrobe can, and did, as I was again told to
Don Johnson begins this scene in a white Z28 convertible,
but it is too bright for the camera. So now he reclines,
primping in a green convertible Mustang. "Oh, this might
show in close-up," says one eager crew member, as he points
to the Mustang's Texas inspection sticker. No problem. A
razor blade quickly whisks away any sign of Texas on this
car; I'm sure Avis will understand!? Don's dresser fusses
over him while Don "rocks out" to the radio and fluffs his
hair. Johnson tells an assistant director, "You are lucky
to live in Houston--to live in the town you work in."
Between takes, Don "boogies" in his car, again to the radio
beat, and wonders aloud to Cheech if it's a "Led Zeppelin
song on the radio? I'm glad today is wrap day. Time for
rest and relaxation at the ranch. Maybe we should go to
Tony Roma's tonight?" With this parting remark he raises
his hand in the air, and waves to all who are watching, as
he departs the set for the last time in his Mustang.
All of a sudden there is a sound of smashed cracking wood,
as Costner's Winnebago crashes through the faux entrance of
the country club. Dumbfounded and incredulous, we all look
up and freeze, resembling frightened deer caught in the
harsh glare of car headlights. That's exactly the reaction
Ron Shelton wanted, and that's exactly why we extras weren't
told what Costner's next move was going to be. Spontaneity.
A rare thing on a movie set noted for delays, rehearsals,
During a break, when the crew reset the cameras for more
angles of the same crashing event, I manage to swipe a piece
of the broken black and white striped guard gate paddle.
Since this is my last day as an extra on Tin Cup,
what do I have to lose by asking Kevin to autograph my
paddle piece? I did and he did. Security was close on my
heels, but I managed to grab one souvenir of a significant
time in my life. This wooden shard, along with my hidden
camera photographs, constitute integral parts of my special
memories of working on a movie with Kevin Costner.
It's a peculiar "Twilight Zone" experience, indeed. All us
extras, strangers, arrived at dawn every day to work twelve
hour stints together in close camaraderie on a focused
venture for many weeks. We all wore the same clothes each
day. Then we repeated the same actions and reactions over
and over again. Time elongated, then seemed to stand still
completely, once we got in the groove of movie-making. But
as quickly as it had begun, it was all over. From seemingly
nowhere, intense activity occurred, then nothingness
followed in the wake--like a hurricane. Though many of us
extras complained about various aspects of movie-making, you
know most of us would do it again in a heartbeat, given the
opportunity. Thanks, Kevin--see you in the movies!
Part IV: Kevin Costner in Close-Up
When Costner first shows up on the set he is attired in two-
tone brown boots, blue jeans and a black shirt. He offers
cheerfully, "You ought to see my other clothes from
Arizona's shooting in Tucson. These are my good clothes!"
Costner indicates his character is kind of a klutz, a clown,
I asked Kevin why his film is called Tin Cup.
"Tin Cup is my character's nickname. Well, this poor
guy couldn't ever do anything right. I wonder if we should
change the title. 'Tin Cup' is not a golfing term.
I guess they could have called him 'Clank' just as well."
I remember a rumor I'd heard and asked, "Does this title
refer to something not meant for mixed company?" Kevin
pauses, wrinkles his forehead and turns red when eying the
women standing nearby. It is my understanding that when
Costner's character, Ray McAvoy, was younger, he was a
baseball catcher who couldn't catch very well, as he
crouched at home plate. Therefore, he'd fumble, in an
effort to catch the ball, and inevitably the baseball would
hit him in his crotch. Since the catcher wore an athletic
cup for personal protection...the ball would hit him there,
rendering the sound of a "clank". Costner shakes off his
embarrassment and offers, "You know, when this movie comes
out, what do you bet at least one or two courses will be
named 'Tin Cup'." He's probably right.
I ask Costner about his golfing proficiency. He answers,
"Oh, I don't play often at all. I have had good coaches on
this film. I used to play golf once a year with my father-
in-law, and sometimes as a kid, too. But that wasn't like
this." He looks down at his feet, as if to say "shucks".
During Tin Cup's filming, Costner often yelled
"duck!" to the crowd of spectators, when his golf balls went
awry. That was okay with the crowd, who nearly fought for
the right of ownership of one of Kevin's stray golf balls.
One girl, who was hit in the forehead by a wayward ball,
didn't even seem to mind--since Kevin sidled over, kissed
her "bo-bo", signed an autograph, and apologized most
sincerely. On another day a girl suffered a ball injury in
her ankle, courtesy of Kevin, in her ankle. The same modus
operandi was employed, again to cheers and whistles. Kevin
volunteers as he squints toward the sun, "You know the
architects should follow me around, and put the holes where
I think they should be -- which is wherever any ball lands."
He chuckles and shakes his head good naturedly.
Kevin has two favorite postures. One is to stand with his
arms crossed, the other is to put both his hands on his
hips. For my next question, he chooses the former stance.
I ask Kevin how he feels politically, since I'd noticed
former President Bush paying a visit to the golf green.
With knitted brow he states, "I'm not into politics really.
I took an invitation to the Bush thing. I guess I'm into
politics as much as the next guy. I'm a donator, you know."
He shrugs with a cocked eyebrow and wrinkled smile, "I feel
like I support half the government." Kevin takes a second
or two out to drive a ball down the golf course green. His
son and two daughters are frequently near him as he
rehearses or practices. "Annie, watch me!" he yells to get
her attention. After the ball doesn't respond properly to
Kevin's wishes, he hollers, "Annie, don't watch me!" Now
Kevin pauses a minute to toss a football to his son, and
play with a familiar set visitor--his secretary's Dachshund.
Kevin returns to me to proceed with our casual interview as
he continues to practice his golf swing. "Hey," he turns to
me and says with a wry smile, "these gloves don't fit!" I
groan with a smile at his thinly veiled O.J. reference.
Swing. Another swing. Some shots are right on the money.
Other balls are bound for parts unknown--mainly the woods
encircling us. "You know, when I'm putting, and all these
people are watching and waiting for me to make a shot--it's
a very humbling experience. I feel like a knucklehead.
These experts draw me diagrams of how to do it, but it's
like being back in school with geometry!" he says affably as
he shakes his head.
I compliment Kevin on his choice of films he has starred in.
They are often offbeat, risky and/or inspiring in nature.
He seems quite pleased and serious when he offers a simple,
"Thank you. Really. I'm glad. Thank you very much."
"Kevin, what's the rating on this film?" I query without a
good segue. He ducks his head a bit and offers, "This movie
is an R. That's because of the language. It's blue. It's
funny. You won't see this one in an airplane!" he laughs.
I ask Kevin about his upcoming plans in the near future. He
becomes serious again and declares soberly, "I plan to open
a resort in South Dakota, not far from Rapid City, in 1998.
I plan to offer train service once you get off the plane for
a complete experience."
And what does Kevin think of Texas? "I like Texas. I've
been here several times. Made other films here. Perfect
World near Huntsville and Fandango in Marfa." I
complimented him on his fine work in Oliver Stone's
controversial, conspiracy riddled JFK. "Thank you," he
replied, adding, "I thought it was a good film, too."
At this point we are interrupted by a girl who offers Kevin
a colored golf tee with her name, "Christine" imprinted on
it. He thanks her and pockets the tee, as onlookers mutter
and hum. One guy in the crowd volunteers, "Kevin! I saw
you in Huntsville when you were working on Perfect
World! You were shopping for props to decorate your
trailer with in K-Mart!" A sly look crosses Kevin's face
and he says, "Yes, that's true. I was in K-Mart, but YOU
were the one looking at the teddies in the lingerie
department!" The growing group around Costner laughs and
cheers. I ask Kevin when Tin Cup will be released.
He replies, "Well, unless they want to hold a movie back, it
usually takes as long to edit the picture as it does to film
it. So, this should take 3 or 4 months to do before it's
ready. They should have it ready by April or so, but they
may hold it till summer of '96, right Ron?" Kevin asks, as
Ron Shelton, the director, comes up to join us. But Ron is
distracted by more than his persistent cold, as he
admonishes a nearby assistant director who is spending an
inordinate amount of time hitting balls all over the course.
"OK, pal, I'd say this golf lesson of yours is costing us
about $5,000." I'd have taken the hint. The a.d. did not,
and kept on whacking divots. Ron leaves us, shaking his
head, and we feel this score is yet to be settled. Ron is
regarded by the crew as a good guy who takes input and is
approachable, but bears down hard to get the work done.
Kevin stops talking for a minute and practices another
drive. Though he's often quite good, on this day, he is
not. After several misses, Kevin throws down his club in
disgust, and his hands find their familiar spot, resting on
his hips once more, as his brow knits. Someone is
celebrating a 43rd wedding anniversary in a group of extras,
and Kevin meanders over to wish the old couple well. No
sooner is the anniversary noted, than the off-key strains of
"Happy Birthday" are heard, as a crew member is having a
birthday acknowledgement sung to him. Surveying the crowd
of extras during this break, yields two more attention-
arousing diversions. One girl is giving neck and shoulder
massages, while another enterprising woman is selling her
poem about working on Tin Cup for 25 cents a pop.
While Kevin has been in Houston he has attended several
Rockets games at the Summit. This has given the local media
cause to discuss "Kevin sightings" on a regular basis.
Costner has made it clear he attends the games not as a
Rockets fan, but naturally, as a fan of the L.A. Lakers.
And what of slick, trim, "charming" Don Johnson? Nothing on
the news, but "Tent" gossip has it that he had no problem
finding various dates for the many parties he supposedly
attended. Rumor has it that on D.J.'s list were the
Marriott, Q, Cabo's, and the Men's Club, to name a few. One
extra volunteers that Don is a nice guy on a one-to-one
basis...like to talk about the Army. Another extra pipes
in, "Well, before his Betty Ford Clinic stay you should have
seen how he used to trash out hotel rooms in Miami!"
Kevin and I are wrapping things up on our interview, and
shaking hands when an older gentleman approaches us. He
excuses himself, as he feels impelled to share some
information with Kevin. The man, who says his name is
Murray, thanks Costner for previously signing a golf glove
for his friend in Dallas--a lady in a hospital suffering
from leukemia. Kevin seems genuinely touched with the man's
sincerity and appreciation. Murray says, "Kevin, it really
made her day. She loves it. It made her cry." Kevin
answers, "Murray, thank you for getting back to me and
telling me this. See, when my secretary first gave me that
glove to sign for you awhile back...I didn't know if it was
for real. You know, I get a lot of requests. I don't
always know if it's legitimate, or what the truth is. I'm
really glad to hear back from you about this. Thank you."
And how did the inscription on the golf glove read? It
said, "From my hand to your hand. God Bless You. Kevin
Tin Cup: Plot
Tin Cup derives its title from the nickname of the
film's protagonist, golfer Ray McAvoy (Kevin Costner). He
is skillful, but complacent. McAvoy operates a driving
range in West Texas. Tin Cup falls in love with a
pretty psychologist (Rene Russo). Also vying for her
affections is Don Johnson in the role of "T.C."'s rival.
Costner competes with Johnson for Russo's attention in the
U.S. Open. Important U.S. Open scenes were shot at
Kingwood, Deerwood and Northgate courses. These three
locales represent the fictional Pine Hills Country Club in
Ron Shelton co-wrote the script with John Norville. Shelton
is noted for "sports" films such as Bull Durham,
White Men Can't Jump, and Cobb. But don't ask
him to shoot a sequel to Tin Cup! "Golf is nearly an
impossible game to shoot."
You can email Robert Rees at
Katy, TX USA.
Also visit his web site at web.Lconn.com/mysterease.
To the Top