Later in the day, Kevin Costner hit Channel 5’s screens in Dances With Wolves, the 1990 Western epic that won multiple Oscars. The film put Costner firmly at the top of the Hollywood list, but things didn’t last long for him.
Just a few years later, Costner re-signed to work with director Kevin Reynolds, after working with him on Fandango and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. This time, they began work on the 1995 saga Waterworld – a post-apocalyptic adventure film based on the premise that water has submerged the surface of the planet.
Costner played the title role – The Mariner – but behind the scenes, tensions were rising above the tide.
At the time, Waterworld held the record for the most expensive film ever made, with a budget of $175 million. It rose from $100 million, which led to more pressure from studios and executives alike.
Costner and Reynolds soon found themselves in deep water.
Costner faced Dennis Hopper’s on-screen villain Deacon, but behind the scenes, he and Reynolds were feuding fiercely with each other on set. Things went from bad to worse.
In a previous interview, Reynolds revealed that he “couldn’t stand” Costner’s meddling in the film’s production.
Eventually, Reynolds got fed up and did the unthinkable: he left the group.
When Reynolds left, he called Costner: “Now Kevin will be working with his favorite actor and director!”
Waterworld screenwriter Peter Rader also spoke about the traumatic events of the 1990s.
But he revealed another side to the Costner argument
“Costner had to hold the movie while his marriage was falling apart,” Ryder said.
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Reynolds added that they had some “serious arguments” about the Waterworld set – but blamed viewers.
The director continued, “There was a lot of pressure on the film itself because at the time it was the most expensive film ever. The press was after us from the beginning, wanting us to fail.”
Addressing Costner’s reasons, he added: “It’s confirmed. We had discussions, then arguments, then disagreements. It’s not something I want to go into in detail. But it took years to get over it.”
However, the Kevins seemed to reconcile, and years later became friends again. Costner, the star of Yellowstone, once commented, “I think Kevin is more comfortable in his own skin now.”
In a separate interview, Costner said, “We had our differences. It happens, especially when the stakes are as high as at Waterworld.”
However, he added that things have improved. “But from fire comes steel,” he said. “And I’ve always had real confidence in him as a director.”
The dramatic production of the film seems to have been reflected in its performance as well. Although Waterworld earned over $260 million at the box office, it is a huge flop at $175 million. With extra marketing costs from Hollywood traditionally on a budget and the studios getting a smaller share of the buys than the movie chains, Waterworld may have lost hundreds of millions.
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