'Waterworld': Dangerous When Wet

While Costner was agonizing over his marriage, he found solace for the first time in several years in his old friendship with Reynolds. ''I sympathized with him,'' says Reynolds, whose first marriage ended in divorce in 1985. ''I knew he was going through a very hard time in his life. He didn't miss any days because of it. I just think it played heavily on his mind.''

By the time the production moved to Los Angeles at the beginning of this year, the bill was up to $150 million, and phrases like Fishtar and Kevin's Gate (a term that, it should be noted, was also applied to the hugely successful Dances With Wolves when it was in production) were showing up in print.

Back on dry land, Reynolds shot underwater city sequences in tanks at Huntington Beach, and scenes of the Deacon's tanker (a replica of the Exxon Valdez) on a field in the City of Commerce, south of L.A. Heights — shy Costner says he insisted on doing his own bungee-jump stunt work at a parking lot location ''so the movie would be over sooner.'' (Stuntmen require extra camera setups to hide their faces.) He plummeted toward the asphalt, which resembled ''any other parking lot. Black, large, you fall on your head, you're dead.''

On Feb. 14, the day shooting finished, Costner was being jerked like a marionette by wires in front of a bluescreen for a shot that would become part of a bungee jump. ''I hurt my back really bad doing the shot,'' he says. ''[Reynolds] wanted another take. I just kind of shook my head and said, 'I can't.'''

Footage of the 110-foot tanker miniature had already been shot in the Mojave Desert, so the filmmakers quickly started on postproduction, producing such elaborate visual effects as a computer-generated ocean and creating a giant sea creature from scratch.

And while they were at it — according to Newsweek — Costner ordered his hair to be computer-enhanced. ''I cannot tell you for the life of me where that would come from,'' he says, denying the report. ''We had a hard enough time getting the computer-generated things we need for the movie, let alone that.''

And then, of course, there were the gills. ''The damned things look like little vaginas!'' a Universal exec was quoted as saying. ''They were always going to be enhanced by computer,'' says Gordon, who called columnist Liz Smith to deny that Costner had anything resembling sex organs on his neck. ''Talking to Liz Smith about vaginas, that was probably the hardest conversation.'' An effects crew solved the problem by digitally transferring Costner's gills from an above-water scene — in which they looked like gills — to the underwater shots, in which they indeed looked like...you know.

Meanwhile, whatever détente the two Kevins had reached was icing over in the editing room. Costner says he fought with the studio to give Reynolds a 10-week edit schedule rather than the truncated five-week schedule the studio wanted. ''The next day [the executives] came back to me and said, '[Reynolds] waived it.' I said, 'Fine, I don't give a s---.''' Five weeks later Reynolds turned in a 2-hour-and-40-minute cut that he intended to trim to 2 hours and 15 minutes (as his contract required) after the studio saw ''the tough choices [in editing] that we'd have to make.'' He also called for reshoots in Hawaii.

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