Kevin Costner Got Juiced Filming ‘For the Love of the Game’
Kevin Costner said he reached into his trainer's bag for some pro-level pharmaceutical assistance to get through the last day of a grueling For the Love of the Game shoot – then wound up growling at a few people.
The veteran actor tells the Bill Simmons Podcast he "was throwing 200 to 300 pitches a day for about 18 days" while filming the 1999 Sam Raimi-directed film, despite being over 40 years old at the time. It was Costner's third baseball movie, following 1988's Bull Durham and 1989's Field of Dreams. He stars as Billy Chapel, an aging pitcher fighting off injury, and career and relationship doubts while pursuing a perfect game in what could be his last start.
"I was in pain. I finally just vomited, the pain was so great," Costner says of his real-life struggles while making the movie. "We ended up getting the actual trainer for the [New York] Yankees – and I hope I'm not talking out of school here, but the reality was, this guy came to my rescue. I started having to take a little bit of stuff, I had to take a lot of stuff, just to get through the day. I was throwing that many pitches, and I was also getting kind of juiced up, too."
The final day of pitching required simulating an entire game, and Costner realized he'd have to take things to an even higher level – though he never states exactly which medications he used. "I was going to have to go out and pitch for about five and a half hours, six hours," Costner said. "And so I get the trainer, I said, 'Hey look, what if you had a player who was never going to play again? I need to do this thing. I'm not going to get through this. Whatever we've been doing, how this dose has been going up, we have to go higher. I need a couple of green ones, I need the blues ones, and I need one that you haven't even brought out yet.'"
The trainer consented, but also gave the actor a somewhat ominous warning. "So, I start to go up the steps, and the last thing he says to me, as I'm walking up the steps he says, 'You're gonna growl at a few people,'" Costner adds, "and I'm thinking 'How hyped up am I gonna be?'"
Sure enough, the side effect manifested itself on-camera, during a moment when Costner's character nearly hits a batter and jumps off the mound. Although the pitch was part of the script, Costner suspects that his real-life reaction – leaving his perch and glaring at the batter – was a result of the medication. "I came off that mound," he said. "Something snapped in me. I came about 10 yards down the mound."
During another scene, one of the thousands of extras suddenly decided to profanely heckle Costner after he caught a foul ball. When the admittedly cranky actor turned around and returned fire, he lost the rest of the crowd, too. "They all turned on me, really bad, [saying] '**** you, ******* Billy Chapel!'" Costner said. "I'm walking back and I go, 'Why did I even go over there?'"
Luckily, he got an immediate chance at redemption. The next pitch was another foul pop-up in the same vicinity, but Costner decided to showboat a bit by catching the ball behind his back. "I don't even know why I did it, because my chances of being humiliated were much greater than catching it," Costner said. "The oxygen went out, no one said a thing. I catch the ball, I just look at them, look at that guy [who first heckled him]. I turned around, and all the crowd turned on him - '**** you, that's Billy Chapel!' They're calling him these vulgar, vulgar names. It was a weird moment."
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