Movie Fact #230 - July 19th, 2021
The plot for the 1983 film The Big Chill focuses on a group of baby boomers who attended the University of Michigan, reuniting after 15 years when their friend Alex dies by suicide. Some don't know this, but Kevin Costner is actually the character of Alex, but all scenes showing his face were cut. It almost wasn't that way though as JoBeth Williams later recalled filming a scene flashing back to the characters in 1968 that would have played at the end of the film. She recalls the experience:
"It was just wonderful to shoot. They rented this big house in Atlanta and installed bead curtains, rock posters, incense, 1968 Life magazines—it was a real time warp."
In that scene, Costner described that his character would have looked "like a scruffy James Dean” though part of why it was cut was in fact because the filmmakers felt revealing Alex's face would have ruined the film's build-up as Costner described:
“That turned out to be the problem...Nobody could live up to that role after the build-up through the film, and audiences said they didn't want to see anybody try. So the last 10 minutes of the film were just cut out."
Ultimately, this allowed Alex's character to remain a powerful shadow over the rest of the cast and led to the film becoming one of the greats. Stay tuned!