After Dances with Wolves, country music? Oscar winner Kevin Costner has played a colonel during the American Civil War and Robin Hood. But his new career may require even more courage: The Academy Award winner now also plays country music, as the front man of Kevin Costner and Modern West.

You’re a successful movie star. Why did you launch a career in country music?

I didn’t know it would evolve to this point. I started playing a bit, and my wife encouraged me, and more and more people started coming to my gigs. I love singing my own sings, but I never thought I’d be touring and making albums.

Do country musicians get less respect than Hollywood actors?

I don’t look to anyone else for confirmation; I just go out and give people a good show. People in Europe, Germans in particular, are very appreciative. The Germans are actually why I started doing music more seriously. I’ll direct a Second World War movie this fall and went to Germany last year to meet with some actors. My band and I scheduled some gigs and lots of people turned up, and now we’re back, playing in larger venues. That’s what I like about the Germans: they don’t care what anyone else thinks; if they like you, they invite you back.

With record sales declining, isn’t music a dying business?
Anyone can make an album, but a good musician can play live. As a matter of fact, I was the only member of my band who didn’t want to make an a record because I knew that I’d be scrutinized in a way that most musicians are not. But in the end I gave in. We’re releasing our second album this month.

In the 2008 film you starred in Swing Vote, about an unemployed man whose vote determines the entire presidential election. In real life, you supported Barack Obama, telling college students to get involved with politics because your generation failed to save the world. How do you want Generation Y to change it?
People have to force politicians to drop their egos and make decisions for future generations. We have too many people in politics who are just concerned about one future: their own. Politicians should only be allowed to stay in office for one term.

Dances with Wolves, movies about Robin Hood and JFK. Which hero do you dream of making a film about?
Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Heroism works so well in films because it’s something that everyone can relate to. And the hero can be a single mother working three jobs, too.

Your sixth child was born last year. What have you learned from being a father?
That I’ll never die.

Five questions

• Best advice you’ve ever been given: Stop talking and start doing.
• Best gift you’ve ever received: Love.
• One thing you’d bring to a desert island: My wife.
• Person you most admire: Abraham Lincoln.
• I can’t start my day without: Hope.

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