“Field of Dreams” Actor Dwier Brown
Talks about His Famous Role in the Film!
Have you ever had an opportunity to speak with a ghost? I have. Well, at least a man who played one on the big screen. It’s a name you might not be familiar with — Dwier Brown — but this actor had a role in a film you will never forget. Dwier played John Kinsella, the father of Kevin Costner’s character Ray Kinsella for the final five minutes of the movie Field of Dreams. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the movie that is arguably the greatest sports film ever made. On Father’s Day, the original cast and crew will make a trip back to Northeast Iowa for a weekend long celebration that will include a performance by Kevin Costner’s band Modern West. Fans are encouraged to attend, and they can find out more about this monumental event at the official website.
To mark the film’s anniversary, Dwier has released a book about the film and about his small yet necessary role that would forever change his life.
“I told God that if he would put me in just one ‘meaningful’ film, like It’s a Wonderful Life, I would try and use that opportunity to help people.”
Dwier called and God answered by putting him in a legendary scene in a movie that grossed over $84 million dollars worldwide at the box office in 1988 and has people forever quoting, “If you build it, he will come.”
His book, appropriately titled If You Build It, is a book that I could not put down. I devoured the inspiring, riveting chapters like a nourishing meal. I finished the book in two sittings — a rarity for a boy like me with ADHD. The book will bring you back to that first moment when you see Kevin Costner’s surprised face — as his character Ray sees his dad as a young man for the first time — and redemption fills the air after an awkward conversation that ends with Ray Kinsella saying, “Hey Dad, You wanna have a catch?”
(Pause to wipe away a tear.)
Sports columnist Bill Simmons wrote of the movie: “I have always felt there were two types of people: those who love Field of Dreams and those who have no soul.”
I would have to earnestly agree with him. I was very excited the day I got to speak with Dwier Brown, the man who first came to my attention when I was six years old. Now a proud father of two myself, we discussed the beloved movie, its impact on our culture, and how it changed his life:
What are your plans for the 25th anniversary of the film?
There is a big Father’s Day celebration at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, and Kevin is going to be there and Timothy Bussfield and a bunch of all-star baseball players — Brett Saberhagen is going to be there, Ryan Dempster, and Glendon Rusch. We are going to have a celebrity baseball game; they are going to screen the movie on the field on a big screen and Kevin’s band Modern West is going to play. Matt Lauer from the Today Show is coming out and Bob Costas is going to do a little documentary for MLB network. That weekend is going to be pretty crazy, and I have been traveling around — I am going this weekend to a book signing in Chicago at Wrigley Field — so I have been kind of running around and getting to see a bunch of good baseball and great fields throughout a lot of the Midwest.
Do you still get recognized for your part after 25 years?
Well, what is funny to me is, I was explaining that it is sort of the perfect amount of fame to have. I can go months and people see me, sometimes you see their brow furl a little bit, but they don’t say anything, and it just passes; and then out of the blue somebody will come up to me and they will be like, “You were in Field of Dreams right?” you know, and they somehow manage to keep that moment — and my face — in their brain after all this time. So these people come up and really remember. For the other people, you know, I can just go on and have a normal life, so it works out pretty good for me without worrying about being able to finish my meal in a restaurant. For the most part, it works out well. People do come out and tell me all the time about their story and how the movie changed their life. It is pretty nice. To go through life with that kind of legacy, you know, when people keep coming up to me and telling me wonderful things, it is pretty good.
In your book you mentioned performing in Nashville. Did you spend some time here?
I did spend a little time. We did a play at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC); it was just opening, I believe, in 1982 . I was there doing a play with Pearl Bailey, Howard Rollins, Bill Cobbs, and Dana Hill. We had a great time there, everywhere we went people treated us really well. We went out dancing, to clubs, had some great BBQ, and I really enjoyed it. We have some extended family in Nashville, and I am looking forward to getting out there.
Unlike my question about your book, I am not going to ask you what Kevin Costner is like because I have had the opportunity to spend some time with him; but I will ask you if you have any fond memories of any other movie star that you may have worked with or met?
When I first came to Los Angeles, I was in the mini-series The Thornbirds, and the woman who played my mother on the show was Jean Simmons. She was an English actress who was pretty famous in the 40’s as a movie actress. She once took her three fake sons from The Thornbirds, she took us all in a limo and drove us from Los Angeles to San Diego to Del Mar racetrack, and she gave us all $100.00 to gamble on the horses, and we spent all day in the sun. She was really an exceptional lady. I have a lot of wonderful memories, but that one in particular pops into my mind right now. I have had the good fortune to meet a lot of people.
You have a daughter and a son; are they performers as well?
My daughter Lily is in collage, she is doing a semester down in Chile right now, and her intention is to write a play in Spanish. She has been speaking a lot of Spanish in her academic career and she likes writing plays — and it wouldn’t surprise me. She does perform, but I think she is going to end up on the writing end of it. My son Woody is a very funny guy, but he seems to shy away somewhat from performing, which is just fine with me, but he is very funny when he gets on stage, so who knows?
The movie Field Of Dreams mentions a lot about Heaven; how do you personally feel about Heaven?
I tend to be a somewhat philosophical person. I grew up in the Methodist Church, and I have been a spiritual seeker my whole life, and my current take on Heaven is [this]: Heaven would have to be a place where you see everyone you have ever known, and they are all desperately happy to see you, and there is no manipulation or guilt trips or judgment. It is a little like when people come up to me about the movie and tell me some great memory or how that movie changed their lives. That is a little bit of heaven to me. People see me before they even know me and they are already thinking the best possible thoughts about me, and, to me, that would be my idea of Heaven.