“That’s all they asked”: Kevin Costner’s Most Controversial Role Almost Went to Harrison Ford if Star Wars Legend Hadn’t Backed Out of Fear

Kevin Costner took on a role that Harrison Ford was too scared to film.

“That’s all they asked”: Kevin Costner’s Most Controversial Role Almost Went to Harrison Ford if Star Wars Legend Hadn’t Backed Out of Fear


  • Kevin Costner starred in the hugely controversial 1991 film, JFK, which revolved around the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
  • The role of the protagonist had been offered to several actors, like Harrison Ford, but they all turned it down, before Costner agreed.
  • In the three decades since its release, JFK's legacy has endured.
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Kevin Costner is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces. He has been in the industry for several decades, and he has no plans of stopping anytime soon. The actor is also known for taking on daring roles, ones that not only challenge himself as an actor but affect public perception too.


One such role that he tackled was in Oliver Stone’s hugely controversial 1991 film, JFK. The film stirred up a storm, and not many leading actors wanted to be involved in such a project, including Harrison Ford. Costner braved the storm, and he batted away the scandal that followed.

Kevin Costner in JFK
Costner took on the role that Ford rejected (Source: JFK)

Kevin Costner took on a role that even Harrison Ford wanted to avoid at all costs

Oliver Stone had carved a niche for himself before he took on his most ambitious project, JFK, in 1991. The film revolved around the assassination of the 35th American President, John F. Kennedy. However, in true Stone fashion, the film offered a different perspective, proposing a theory that there might have been something bigger at play behind his murder.


Lee Harvey Oswald was suspected to be the ‘lone gunman’ behind the assassination. However, he was murdered a few days later, thus adding fuel to the fire. The film explored the possibility of inaccuracies presented in the Warren Report, which investigated Kennedy’s murder.

Regardless, Stone found it difficult to get the production off the ground. Given the nature of the film, funding was hard to come by. Several actors had also turned down the role of Jim Garrison, the District Attorney of New Orleans at the time, including Marlon Brando. This list also included Harrison Ford, who had enjoyed a surge in popularity after starring in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films.

The film caused a massive controversy owing to its plot (Source: JFK)

Kevin Costner ended up taking on the role. He was one of the biggest actors around at the time and he had even won two Academy Awards. At a special screening of the film at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica on August 26, 2023, Stone spoke extensively about the film. He also opened up about getting Costner to play the role.


“He [Costner] made the film happen because it cost $40 million in 1990 [a big budget]. The studio was very supportive, but they wanted one star, that’s all they asked. The head of CAA convinced him [Costner] to do it, as it was a scary role. Harrison Ford turned this down, he was terrified of it. You have to understand, there’s a risk here, once you play that role, you could be off limits, so there was fear. Kevin has guts, once he committed, he committed,” said the director.

Costner’s JFK went on to make it big at the box office. The film steadily raked in the moolah, and it ended its run with over $205 million at the box office.

The enduring legacy of Kevin Costner’s JFK

Over three decades have passed since Costner’s film was released. However, the film remains a piece of cinematic brilliance. Most importantly, such was its impact, that it forced Congress to take action too.

The film was adapted from On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison, the protagonist of the film. The attorney made some jaw-dropping allegations, going so far as to state that Clay Shaw, a local businessman, was part of a bigger plan to kill the president.

Kevin Costner in JFK
The film’s legacy has endured all these years (Source: JFK)

While the film created a huge controversy at the time, it also managed to sway people’s hearts. Many believe that the CIA played a big part in it, and the numbers could be linked to those who watched the film. A year after its release, Congress passed the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, which saw hundreds of documents being released to the public.

The style of filmmaking has also been lauded, particularly the editing and cinematography. The film went on to win two Oscars from eight nominations, in the aforementioned categories. Stone’s film is available to stream on Prime Video.


Written by Sreshtha Roychowdhury

Articles Published: 156

Sreshtha Roychowdhury is a content writer at FandomWire. An avid lover of film and music, Sreshtha is also a geek, with a hunger to know more about what the field has to offer. Apart from her contributions to writing, she is quite passionate about sports too.