Field of Dreams has achieved many feats since its debut in 1989. The film not only raked in $84.4 million at the box office and was nominated for three Academy Awards, but 30 years down the road it’s still one of the few movies that continue to make grown men cry.
Centered around a farmer who builds a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield, the movie is about so much more than baseball. However, some members of the cast didn’t realize this and one actor even considers the game of baseball to be impossible despite the fact that he’s been in at least three baseball movies. Read on to find out who!
The Film Is Misquoted All The Time
“If you build it, they will come,” is the most famous line from Field of Dreams that was never actually said. Ray Kinsella hears a mysterious voice say this to him in the middle of his cornfield near the start of the film but what it’s actually saying is “If you build it, he will come.”
To this day, movie fans insist the voice says “they” instead of “he,” but the script might tell you otherwise. The line still remains one of the greatest movie quotes of all time, even if it was misheard as a result of some cinematic Mandela effect.
The Person Behind The “Voice” Is Still A Mystery
As for the man who lent his voice to the most famous misquote, his true identity has remained unknown ever since the movie premiered. “In the credits, it says ‘Himself.’ I thought that was sort of funny. It was okay with the person who did the voice, so we just decided to keep it a secret,” writer/director Phil Alden Robinson tells Variety.
Rumor had it that actor Ray Liotta was the man behind the voice but W.P. Kinsella, who wrote the novel Field of Dreams is based on, says he was told the voice was that of Ed Harris, Amy Madigan’s husband.
Kevin Costner Almost Wasn’t Cast
When director Phil Robinson finally got Universal to option his screenplay for “Shoeless Joe,” the first actor he had in mind to play Ray Kinsella was Kevin Costner. But his name wasn’t even on the list of potential leads since he had just starred in another baseball movie, 1988’s Bull Durham. Still, a Universal executive made sure Costner got a copy of the script and the actor ended up approaching them about being in the movie.
Despite warnings from his advisers, Costner wasn’t worried about doing another baseball flick. “It was a great, great screenplay. I saw and believed in the fantasy of this movie,” he once said.
Ray Liotta Has Never Seen Field Of Dreams
Ray Liotta stars in Field of Dreams as Shoeless Joe Jackson, the first ghost that appears on the baseball diamond. Initially, even he didn’t understand the script at first and had to read it several times before he decided to read the book. It was only then that it started to click.
But for how important Liotta’s part in the movie is and how successful it became, he has never actually watched it himself. “My mom was really sick during that period [of filming], so it brings back other things,” Liotta explained to Huffington Post.
Burt Lancaster Was Cast After Jimmy Stewart Said No
Ray travels to Minnesota to look for baseball player-turned-doctor Archibald Moonlight Graham, who is portrayed by Golden Age actor Burt Lancaster. James Stewart, the producers’ first choice, passed on the role which was how Lancaster got to playing the role at age 74.
When Lancaster first read the script, he didn’t really understand it and was reluctant to continue with the project. Luckily, he remained after a friend convinced him that he had to do the movie. Field of Dreams ended up being Burt Lancaster’s last cinematic film. He retired after doing a few TV movies and passed away in 1994.
A Film By Any Other Name
The movie was originally supposed to be titled “Shoeless Joe” just like the novel that it’s based on, but that title wasn’t testing well. Potential audience members said that “Shoeless Joe” made them think of a hobo or that Kevin Costner was playing a homeless man.
Universal ultimately changed the title to “Field of Dreams,” so Robinson reluctantly told author W.P. Kinsella about the change. Kinsella was completely fine with it and in fact, the original title of his book was supposed to be “Dream Field.” It was Kinsella’s publisher that changed the novel’s title to “Shoeless Joe.”
They Scheduled Filming Around The Crops
Field of Dreams was filmed on location in Iowa but to get those scenes just right, the cornfield had to be a certain height. As a result, the entire filming schedule was centered around the height of the corn. The timing worked out perfectly and in fact, the corn was so tall that Kevin Costner is actually standing on an apple box in the scene when he first hears the voice.
Iowa was going through a drought at the time and producers dammed water from a nearby creek to irrigate the corn. If that didn’t work out, they had fake corn from Asia on standby.
Liotta Didn’t Portray Shoeless Joe Accurately
In Field of Dreams, Shoeless Joe bats right and throws left but any baseball purist might tell you that this detail is historically inaccurate. The real Shoeless Joe Jackson batted left and threw right but Ray Liotta couldn’t play that way.
No matter how hard he tried, Liotta couldn’t hit well enough with his left despite the fact that the actors had baseball pros on set to help them. Eventually, producers told Liotta that it was okay if this detail wasn’t right but Liotta thinks he should’ve tried harder. “To this day I regret it because I’m a bug, making sure things are accurate,” he told New York Post in 2004.
Terence Mann Is Supposed To Be A Famous Author
In the film, Ray travels to Boston to take his favorite author, a recluse named Terence Mann, to a baseball game. Terence Mann was a fictional journalist created for the film but in the novel, Ray actually goes to see J.D. Salinger.
In real life, J.D. Salinger was a known recluse and apparently, he wasn’t pleased to be written as a character in the novel. To avoid a lawsuit from the author of The Catcher in the Rye, Universal decided it was best just to create a similar character.
James Earl Jones Thinks Baseball Is Impossible
James Earl Jones is one of the most esteemed actors on the cast of Field of Dreams and it’s not the only baseball flick he’s been in. Jones also played Leon Carter in The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings and the mysterious Mr. Mertle in The Sandlot in 1993. But despite being in numerous baseball films, he never actually was close to the game.
“In all the baseball movies I’ve been in, I’ve realized one thing. It is impossible to hit a spherical baseball with a tubular stick unless you see the ball as you hit it,” he once mused.
What’s In A Name
The name of the main character is Ray Kinsella, which understandably would lead many people to believe that author W.P. Kinsella named his character after him. But Ray actually gets his name from none other than J.D. Salinger.
Salinger wrote two characters whose names are Kinsella: Richard Kinsella in The Catcher in the Rye and Ray Kinsella in the short story “A Young Girl in 1941 With No Waist at All.” “I decided to name my character Ray Kinsella so he could turn up on Salinger’s doorstep and say, ‘I’m one of your fictional creations come to life, here to take you to a baseball game,'” the author Kinsella has explained.
Gaby Hoffmann Had A Childhood Crush On Her Co-Star
Gaby Hoffmann was six years old when she filmed Field of Dreams, which was also her feature film debut. She recalls having a wonderful time on set and at times she didn’t even feel like she was making a movie, especially since she had a huge crush on one of her co-stars.
“I loved that movie, because I loved playing with all the baseball players. I had a huge crush on two of them, including Ray Liotta, who I was convinced was also in love with me. We would play cars, we would play catch, I didn’t think about what we were doing,” Hoffmann recalled to NPR.
3,000 Local Iowans Took Part In Filming
At the very end of the movie, you see a long line of cars on the road to the farm, fulfilling the movie’s prophecy that more people would come to the diamond. While this could have been achieved using special effects, the scene was actually filmed with the help of local Iowans.
3,000 Iowa residents in 1,500 cars lined up on the road to the farm and everyone had to tune in to a certain radio station in order to hear director Robinson’s instructions. There was also a forced blackout in the town of Dyersville in order to get the lighting for the scene just right.
Dwier Brown Related To Kevin Costner’s Character
Dwier Brown portrays John Kinsella, Ray’s late father. Brown appears as a younger version of John, who before he was “run down by life” was on his way to the Majors. Brown has said that he identified with Kevin Costner’s character on a personal level as his own father had passed away unexpectedly before filming.
The family tragedy helped Brown access the necessary emotion to film the movie’s most important scene. “I was very worried that, because of my own grief, I wouldn’t be able to speak the words in the scene,” he once recalled.
W.P. Kinsella Only Gave It Four Out Of Five Stars
Despite the fact that he loved the film and didn’t want to have a say during production, there are apparently some things W.P. Kinsella would have changed about the movie. When a Canadian publication asked Kinsella to write a review for Field of Dreams, he only gave it four out of five stars.
What didn’t work for Kinsella was the fact that Ray’s brother-in-law Mark, played by Timothy Busfield, wasn’t villainous enough. Another thing that Kinsella thought was a bit off was the fact that Karin, played by a young Gaby Hoffmann, looked nothing like her on-screen parents.
Ben Affleck And Matt Damon Were Extras
When Ray travels to Boston to see Terence Mann, they attend a baseball game at Fenway Park. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment but believe it or not, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck appear as extras in a Fenway Park scene. Damon was 17 and Affleck was 16 at the time, not too long before the Hollywood BFF’s would travel to Los Angeles together to pursue acting.
More than ten years later, Affleck starred in The Sum of All Fears, another Phil Alden Robinson-directed film. On his first day on set, Affleck told Robinson, “Nice working with you again.”
Kinsella Loved The Movie But Was Very Bored
W.P. Kinsella loved the film adaptation of his book. Even though Phil Robinson made sure to involve the author during production, Kinsella didn’t want to have too much input. During the summer of 1988, Kinsella did show up on location for filming but it was an experience he described as “colossal boredom.”
“I am a person who stays in the background and observes… Making movies requires tons of patience, which I don’t have,” Kinsella wrote for ESPN. The author even appeared with his wife in the PTA meeting scene but says that they didn’t make the final cut.
Heaven In The Middle Of Iowa
“Is this heaven?” Shoeless Joe askes Ray, who replies, “No, it’s Iowa.” Indeed, Field of Dreams was filmed on location in Iowa at 28995 Lansing Road in the town of Dyersville. Producers looked everywhere from New Mexico to Canada to find the perfect site for the film, but it was Iowa Film Office volunteer Sue Riedel who scouted the perfect farmhouse on an Iowa hillside.
In 1987, she drove right up to the farmhouse and knocked on the door, explaining that Hollywood might want to use the site in a new film. “Are you crazy?” was the response of owner Don Lansing.
The Owner Met His Wife When She Visited The Diamond
Don Lansing’s family has owned the property since 1906. “I was born and raised here, lived here all my life and one day you get a knock on the door, and it changed my life forever,” he told USA Today.
They’ve kept the baseball diamond in their cornfield ever since and people from all over the world have traveled there over the years to see the Field of Dreams for themselves. Lansing even met his wife when she took her own pilgrimage there in 1995. When it came time to propose, he did it on first base.
You Can Still Visit The Field Of Dreams Today
You can still visit the Field of Dreams today and you might even see Don Lansing maintaining the land on his tractor, despite the fact that he and his wife sold the property in 2012. Go the Distance Baseball bought the 193 acres and caused a stir in the town when they announced their intention to turn the cornfield into a $74 million baseball and softball complex.
That venture has yet to come to fruition but people continue to flock to Field of Dreams 395 days out of the year. There is a gift shop and you can pay to tour the house.