news / updates
Dwier Brown Interview
I had the pleasure of meeting actor/author Dwier Brown during the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival at the University of Dubuque’s Heritage Center before a screening of the classic baseball movie Field of Dreams. Twenty-five years ago, Brown had a key role to play in this powerful film; he played John Kinsella, the reason why the Field of Dreams was built.
Below are the questions I asked Dwier and my notes about his responses. Some of his responses are direct quotes and noted as such. The rest are paraphrased.
Dwier gave me a great compliment during the interview because he admitted I asked him questions no one else had. After 25 years of talking on the subject, I am stunned. I hope you enjoy these insights.
What is your fondest memory of shooting on the set at the Field of Dreams?
“I had a distinct memory of driving down the road into the farm.” It sticks out in his memory because of the similarities the farm had to his childhood memories. He thought it was striking that the farm would remind him so much of his life as a youth in Ohio. As a youth, his desire was to leave the farm. Then as an actor, he was, to a certain extent, heading back to his roots. He was bridging the two phases of his life by creating the film in a “really interesting synthesis”.
Would you share a story about the “Ghost Players” from the film shoot?
He fondly recalled the guys themselves and how much he enjoyed talking to and playing ball with them. In researching Dwier, I noticed that there is footage from the movie shoot that shows him playing catch with the guys. Dwier described the Ghost Players as being “down home comfortable people”. He compared them to the people who were part of a different film he worked on called Gettysburg. When Dwier learned of how the Ghost Players had performed at the Field of Dreams for over 20 years, he likened their efforts to the reenactors from Gettysburg that helped make that film such a success. Dwier admired the “blue collar”, Midwestern work ethic. He got quite a kick out of the kind of dedication it takes to be ghost players or civil war reenactors.
Have you made any trips back to the Field of Dreams since you made the movie?
Brown has returned twice since he shot the film. He returned for a celebrity event and played ball with Kelsey Grammer, Bob Gibson and other hall of famers. His fondest memory of that visit was getting to rob Joe Pepetion of a base hit by chasing down a blooper he hit to shallow right field.
In 2012, he had come to the FoD in the summer just to hang out as a random tourist. While there, he was invited to play with a bunch of LDS ministers. Without admitting who he was, he enjoyed the pleasure of playing ball on the field, of really getting to experience some of the magic that comes from being that field. In the end, Dwier told them who he was and his connection to the film. During that same visit, someone at the coffee shop in Dyersville treated him to a free meal as part of an anonymous act of kindness.
What was running through your head last month when you reconnected with the ball players at the Heritage Center during the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival?
“That was really fun! I wasn’t expecting it to be such a gala event.” He had not expected the battalion of photographers and reporters when they walked into the Heritage Center. When he got a look at the Ghost Players, he was stunned as they “looked like they have not changed very much in 25 years.” He also comment on, “How funny to see people you struck up great friendships with and then see them 25 years later. It was like a high school reunion; where there is not enough time to reconnect.
What do you think of the film after living it for twenty-five years?
“It is the best thing on my resume.”
Why did you write the book, If You Build It?
He admitted to wanting to write about the film for a long time but waited in case others who had been in the film wanted to write their books first. When he decided to write the book, he reconnected with the film’s director and the executive producer to make sure they would be ok with his project. They were and the book has been received really well.
He wanted to be respectful of the people who had created the film and to the fans. He has been collecting the stories of the fans for the last twenty-five years and is eager to share their stories and his stories with his readers of his time in the “Sacred corn”.
What are you looking forward to most during the Father’s Day event next month?
He has some relatives coming including his 91-year-old mother, his sister and cousins are all coming. The book will be there for sale at the field and there will be a special meal on Father’s Day.
He is also looking forward to getting to see Kevin and Timothy Busfield and the others from the cast and crew. “All-star players are always a thrill.” Spending time with those who actually made livings as ball players is a treat. “Seeing the movie on the field is going to be amazing“.
He has a real sense of something special that can be felt while at the Field of Dreams. It is a “similar resonance” to what he experienced while filming in Gettysburg – “it is sacred ground”.
Tell me about your music video on fathers?
“It is a little project that asks the question, "if you could say one thing to your father, what would it be?". Interesting that this project was something private and difficult to pursue.” Many of the people in the video were participants and other filmmakers from the Julien Dubuque Film Festival. Here is a link to the video.
Sue Riedel, Dwier Brown, and Brian Frankish, April 23, 2014 University of Dubuque Heritage Center for a Q&A following a screening of Field of Dreams in honor of the film's release 25 years ago.
What inspired you to write the book, If You Build It?
“I always wanted to write a book since I was a kid. My kids were grown and I thought that it was time.” Dwier went on to explain how much he has valued the fans and the stories they have shared with him over the years. He wanted to share how the movie affected him and them. The book grew from there.
The book is available on Amazon, Dwier’s website(dwierbrown.com), and in select bookstores. He will have a book signing at the Field of Dreams during Father’s Day weekend. In fact, there are signed copies at the Field of Dreams and at the River Lights Second Edition Bookstore.
After the Field of Dreams events, Brown will have signings in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania where he was born and Akron Ohio – near where he grew up, at Fenway where they will also be screening the Field of Dreams and at other locations around the country. Many baseball stadiums are in the plan and he is looking forward to seeing them all.
What was your response to watching the Field of Dreams in the audience?
“I enjoyed the crowd. I knew most had seen the film or been part of the film and yet the emotional response was as genuine as if it were their first time. … Sue’s commentary during the film was really fun.” Dwier was especially touched by the sense of reverence for the film.
“I love the Ghost Players, their humility, their baseball talent and acting ability to make it work.”
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts Dwier.