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
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…