Interview: Kevin Costner on going supporting for ‘Jack Ryan’

Kevin Costner plays the mentor to lead Chris Pine in "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit." Credit: Getty Images
Kevin Costner plays the mentor to lead Chris Pine in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.”
Credit: Getty Images

If you’re Kevin Costner, you have to deal with journalists confessing to you that, as a kid, the ghostly father-son catch at the end of “Field of Dreams” made them cry. But there are worse things than being reminded of big triumphs.

“It’s a pretty big fraternity, that movie,” Costner says. “It’s probably our generation’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’”

If that’s a big claim (if one some might feel is dead-on) in person he remains modest, friendly, funny and approachable — more approachable than anyone who was once the biggest actor in the world.

Nearly 60, Costner presently has five films slated for 2014 — a big uptick in recent years. Thanks to a variety of factors — including fatherhood — he’s laid low over the last decade, popping up in well-received supporting roles in “The Upside of Anger,” “The Company Men” and, most guttingly, Superman’s earthbound dad in “Man of Steel.” Four of these roles are leads — as was his role in The History Channel’s “Hatfields & McCoys,” which won him an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

But in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” he’s a mere mentor to its young star (Chris Pine). “It was certainly a supporting part,” he says, suggesting that’s not ideal for him. “I was attracted to it because Kenneth [Branagh, the director and his co-star] represented so much in our industry.” He was originally reluctant to play an aging agent. “I said, ‘Look, I don’t know that I can sit down at a desk and make phone calls.’ He said, ‘No, that’s why I’m asking you, because this character does get out from behind the phone and at certain moments has to be proactive.’”

Costner first made his name in smaller parts. When he popped up in a small but key role in the 1985 neo-western “Silverado,” it was a “Who’s that guy?” moment. Costner crossed over to lead before coming back to the other side. “Sometimes lead actors are afraid of supporting actors,” he says, laughing. “They can steal the movie. My character certainly doesn’t do that. I’m more of a presence. A lot of people could have played this role, to be sincere.”

Being directed by Branagh could be odd, being that Costner is a director himself. (Although his last picture was “Open Range,” in 2003, a more modest Western than either “Dances with Wolves” or “The Postman,” the latter one of the massive projects — along with “Wyatt Earp” and “Waterworld” — that damaged his A-list status.) But he says that’s a good thing. “It was interesting to watch him direct,” he says, chuckling. “I wanted to see how he does it. Because I’m usually directing horses and gunfights.” Compared to Branagh, who he says his “calm and composed,” Costner likes to get in there and show the actors what they’re doing, especially “if they’re taking too long to die.”

Learning from others is something he likes to do. “Unless you’re a complete narcissist, you look at other people and you like what they do better than what you do,” he says. “I like making music. But I always love other people’s music more than mine. I like what we do and I sign off on it, but the minute I hear someone else’s music, I’m like, ‘Man, we should be doing something like that.’”

Costner would like to get back behind the camera. “I would like to play the second half of my career directing,” he states. He says he’s been hard at work with a friend on a series of adventure novels, which he describes as “old-fashioned,” saying it’s consciously in the vein of Jules Verne and Rudyard Kipling. (The books are slated to be released next year by Simon & Schuster.)

No matter how popular Costner has been, he’s always been attracted to older, even outmoded genres. No one was making Westerns when “Dances with Wolves” came out in 1990. No one’s making them now, especially thanks to “Cowboys & Aliens” and “The Lone Ranger.” And yet one of the other Costner films this year — including “Draft Day” and “3 Days to Kill” — is “Black and White,” a Western with Gillian Jacobs and Octavia Spencer, directed by “The Upside of Anger”’s Mike Binder.

He also says he has a 12-hour Western he’s been working on. “It’s very epic,” he says, laughing at the insanity of it. “It kind of debunks a theory about how towns came to be. I really want to make it, because I love that world — as you know.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…