Why Was Kevin Costner Cut From ‘The Big Chill’?

by Megan Molseed

In 1983, some of the biggest stars of the time lit up the screen as the all-star cast in one of the most classic films of the 1980s: The Big Chill. Featuring major stars such as Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Berenger, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, and so many other big names, The Big Chill’s impressive ensemble cast is no doubt a major draw for audiences. However, there is one big name in Hollywood who played a part in The Big Chill that ended up being cut almost entirely from the moving comedy-drama film. The actor? Longtime movie icon and Yellowstone star, Kevin Costner.

For some movie lovers, The Big Chill is one film that was released long enough ago that this news is likely a surprising bit of movie trivia. However, others may already know this little tidbit to be one of Hollywood’s biggest urban legends. One of the rare Hollywood urban legends that turn out to be true.

What Was Kevin Costner’s Role in the 1983 Hit Film ‘The Big Chill?’

The Big Chill gives audiences a timeless glimpse into the landscape of friendships. The heartwarming and moving film explores how friend groups can grow almost closer than family. However, few know how to maintain these bonds as life gets in the way. These changes can sometimes fracture relationships in ways that are never recognized.

The film follows a group of college friends such as this who have all grown apart as the years went on. However, they are reunited after the tragic death of their friend, Alex; who was portrayed by Costner in the lost flashback scenes.

Costner’s on-screen moments may have been cut from the final film product. However, the character of Alex remains a core component of the 1983 film. Alex is the suicide victim whose devastating death reunites college friends Sam (Berenger), Sarah (Close), Michael (Goldblum), Nick (Hurt), Harold (Kline), Meg (Mary Kay Place), Chloe (Meg Tilly), and Karen (JoBeth Williams).

Kevin Costner shot several flashback scenes for The Big Chill. However, only a few remained in the final cut. And, these scenes didn’t even feature the Field of Dreams star’s face. A face we have all come to know as one of the world’s most prolific movie stars.

Kevin Costner Feels The Freeze-Out After Being Cut From ‘The Big Chill’

It can certainly be hard to believe the film’s producers willingly left Kevin Costner’s part sitting on the cutting-room floor. Even if he was a relative unknown at the time. So, what was it that ultimately led to the scenes being cut from the film?

Well, one answer to this query could be a simple one. We learn early on that Alex had been a big part of The Big Chill’s friend group. However, he was never written into the script to be part of the overall ensemble cast of the film. Another theory as to why the film’s director, Lawrence Kasdan, chose to remove Costner’s flashback scenes from The Big Chill is that the goal was to add mystery to the tragedy the characters face in the film. Perhaps speaking of Alex in the past-tense without the audience meeting him helped to drive the emotional impact of the storyline?

Did One Of the Lost Scenes Forshadow Alex’s Fate in ‘The Big Chill?’

This piece of film trivia is certainly an interesting one. Nevertheless, chances are that we will never really know for sure why Costner was trimmed from the hit 1983 movie. However, one of the film’s stars has discussed the lost-flashback scenes in interviews; noting that while the film was a hit without Costner’s part, the lost moments may have offered an interesting moment foreshadowing the character’s fate.

During a 2018 discussion with Yahoo Entertainment Jeff Goldblum recalled filming the flashback scenes with Costner in Atlanta.

“We’re all together in our college days,” Jeff Goldblum explains of The Big Chill’s flashback. “We’re all making a Thanksgiving dinner.”

“He’s about to cut this perfect turkey, and we were all there kind of having a good time, and I think Glenn Close’s character says, ‘Hey Alex. We need you in here,'” Goldblum recalls of the Kevin Costner’s big scene.

“He can’t bring himself to cut the turkey,” the actor explains. “It’s whole, and it’s kind of perfect. And he doesn’t want to do it.”

Jeff Goldblum also notes that the stars of The Big Chill had no idea the scene was going to end up on the cutting room floor. In fact, it wasn’t until they screened the final product that the stars knew the moment was cut from the film.

“Then we saw the movie, and for one reason or another, they decided not to use it,” Goldblum explains. “But [Costner] was wonderful.”