“His brother had been in Vietnam”: Kevin Costner and Keanu Reeves Had a Similar Reason to Turn Down 1 Oscar Winning War Movie Starring Johnny Depp

‘Platoon’ could have ended up looking a bit different if Keanu Reeves and Kevin Costner had said yes to the filmmaker.

Oliver Stone is more than just a filmmaker. The man enlisted in the United States Army during the time of the Vietnam War and when he returned, he decided to tell the harrowing stories of war through the art of filmmaking. His 1986 film Platoon starring was one such film, but it could’ve ended up looking a bit different if actors like Keanu Reeves and Kevin Costner had agreed to be a part of it.

A still from Platoon (1986)

So why did they turn down a film that would go on to become critically acclaimed, do great at the box office, and receive not one, but four Academy Awards? Well, given the fact that the film was based on the Vietnam War and Oliver Stone’s firsthand experience with it, the topic might have been a bit too much for the actors.

Why Did Keanu Reeves and Kevin Costner Turn Down Platoon?

Keanu Reeves in The Matrix Reloaded

Keeping in mind that Platoon, so personal to Oliver Stone, helped him rise to prominence in Hollywood, it is safe to say that the film holds a special place in the filmmaker’s heart. Back in 2011, he joined Entertainment Weekly in an interview for Platoon’s 25th anniversary.

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During the interview, Stone opened up about how actors like Keanu Reeves and Kevin Costner were cast for roles in the film. For starters, Costner and Mickey Rourke were being considered to play Sgt. Barnes.

Kevin Costner in a still from Field of Dreams

When asked about the casting that never came to fruition, Stone stated that “there were others, too, because there were so many layers of time with this film.” He added that the film was written in 1976 and went through many changes.

“It was written in ’76 and was almost made then by Sidney Lumet and Pacino. Then there was a period in ’84 when Michael Cimino was going to produce it and Emilio Estevez was going to play the role, actually.”

Specifically addressing Costner, Stone revealed that the actor’s reason was more personal than professional. He stated,

“Costner passed on it, I believe, because his brother had been in Vietnam.”

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Coming to why Reeves said no to the war film, the Nixon director revealed that the violence in Platoon was just too much for the actor.

“Keanu turned it down because of the violence. He didn’t want to do violence.”

Reeves was being considered for the lead role of Private Chris Taylor which was then given to Charlie Sheen. Platoon also stars Willem Dafoe, Johnny Depp, Keith David, and more.

What Made Oliver Stone Choose Charlie Sheen?

Charlie Sheen in Platoon

Sheen was quite young when he took upon the responsibility of bringing Chris Taylor to life. But what was it that was so unique about him that Stone knew he’d be perfect for the role (which he certainly was)? When EW asked him the same question, the director replied,

“Charlie was a dumb-struck 17-year-old the first time he came in for the film, back when we were going to make it in ’84. And in those two years, he’d grown and seemed perfectly wide-eyed and had a vaguely privileged look.”

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Further, Stone talked about just how pleased he was with Sheen’s performance and his ability to bring the horrors of the place to the screen. He stated,

“Yeah, you could say that. I think he did a great job. He was perfect for the movie. He conveys the horror of the place. I like his performance.”

While Platoon ended up being nominated for eight Oscars at the 59th Academy Awards, Sheen unfortunately didn’t get a nomination for his work as lead actor. Nevertheless, the actor’s performance was highly praised by many critics.

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