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Beyond the Lens
Nellie Connally

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Working with Kevin Costner...Kind Of
Confessions of an Extra

By Robert R. Rees, CyberProfile Contributing Editor

Part I: An Extra's Life

Wanna 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 [Kevin Costner] 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 day's shooting.
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 [Costner with Don Johnson] 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.
[Costner] "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 offered us.
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 lettuce shards 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 juice.
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 person.
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 Begins

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 dousing.
"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, as well.
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 and 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 week.
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, too.
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 time.
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 "straighten up".
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, retakes, etc.
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, an "everyman".
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 Costner."

Tin Cup: Plot Synopsis

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 North Carolina.
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 mysterease@Lconn.com, Katy, TX USA.
Also visit his web site at web.Lconn.com/mysterease.

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