Kevin Costner Downplays Stephen Baldwin's Hand in Oil Cleanup

PHOTO: Actor Kevin Costner, center, leaves Federal Court for a lunch break in New Orleans, June 4, 2012.
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Kevin Costner testified in a New Orleans court today that he never saw actor Stephen Baldwin contribute anything to his company's effort to sell oil cleanup devices to BP in the aftermath of the 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Costner is being sued by Baldwin, who claims he and his business partner were duped out of money in a multimillion-dollar deal for the devices between Costner's company and BP.

Costner took the stand at 10 a.m. today and said he wondered what Baldwin was doing for the company before BP agreed to make an $18 million deposit on a $52 million order for 32 oil-separating centrifuges. He also said the company's CEO begged Baldwin and his business partner, Spyridon Contogouris, not to sell their shares before the deal was done, which is contrary to the claims brought in Baldwin's lawsuit.

Today's testimony followed a tense Thursday in court when the "Waterworld" and "Field of Dreams" star told the court he went to New Orleans after the spill on a "fact-finding mission" to see if the oil-separating centrifuges he helped develop could be of any use in the cleanup. At the height of the oil spill cleanup effort, BP bought 32 of the devices for $18 million.

The lawsuit brought by Baldwin alleges that Baldwin and his friend were deliberately excluded from the meeting between Costner, his business partner Patrick Smith, and BP executive Doug Suttles where the lucrative deal was struck.

Baldwin and Contogouris say they were deceived into letting go of their shares in the new company, Ocean Therapy Solutions, one day before that deal was finalized. They're seeking more than $21 million in damages.

Costner's attorney has argued the actor had no role in Baldwin and Contogouris' decision to sell their shares, and that he's being sued because he's famous.

There have been several tense moments during the prosecution's questioning of Costner. When Baldwin's attorney, James Cobb, questioned Costner about whether his celebrity would pressure the oil giant to order his centrifugal machines, Costner countered that he didn't feel the company would buy them just because of him. He admitted he was on the company's radar, but said it was a huge crisis and it was never his intention to use his celebrity to sell the product.

"I'm not just a celebrity," Costner told the court. "I'm not just a person who opens doors."

At another point, Cobb pressed Costner for an answer about whether or not his business partner is authorized to speak on his behalf. Costner struck back.

"I don't do very well when you get very loud," he said to Cobb. "I'm trying to remember as much as I can."

He said he was nervous and his name was at stake in the trial.

Costner has been involved with the development centrifugal device, dubbed the "Costner solution," for more than 15 years. He previously claimed the machine would "give us a fighting chance to fight back the oil before it got us by the throat."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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