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Interview With Kevin Costner

Aired August 9, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Kevin Costner, from a roller coaster career to a new fiancee. A rare one-on-one with Kevin Costner, in depth, personal, for the hour, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Our special guest tonight is Kevin Costner, return visit with one of my favorite people, the actor, Oscar-award winning director. The new film is "Open Range." He directed and costars with Robert Duvall and Annette Bening. It opens next Friday. We are happy to have him with us tonight. It's a terrific Western, we'll talk a lot about it. Why do you like westerns?

KEVIN COSTNER, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: Well, I don't know. There is a lot of bad westerns, you know. And there is a whole generation out there, including a lot of our women, who think, what are you talking about good westerns? You know, they are not good, and most of the instances they are actually kind of right, that they have been lazy, and they have been too simple. And they black people out. So that generation, where they keep saying, no, no, they are good, son they are good. They go, no, no, no, they are not good at all, because people have not been able to relate to them as people.

And the one -- why I like them is because if you think of "Liberty Valance," or "The Searchers," there is moments in there that you'll never ever forget. And it does not matter what century you are from.

KING: Yes, you are right. In fact, there is a poll this week, they found that most presidents' favorite movie was "High Noon." Classic western.

COSTNER: Yeah. Well, you know, there is something about having, I mean, what has got to be the worst job in the world, you know.

KING: To be a cowboy?

COSTNER: No, to be a president. To be the president, you know, to be second guessed, to be -- you know, be trying to solve one problem, and having everybody nip at your heels. And it's not even nipping any more, there's some full blown bites come out of here, but I think that they see what it's like to be -- to stand alone. And it's -- it's not, it's a place that a lot of times in a leadership role you find yourself alone.

KING: I want to talk about a lot of things. First, about the film. Why does Robert Duvall get credit as the star? He is on the screen before your name. COSTNER: Yes. Well, I thought about it. And I thought about the movie, and I felt that -- I felt that he is the star of the movie, and there is a commercial instinct say, don't do it that way, but, you know, I don't really worry about that too much, I don't think I ever really have. I respect him, I think it's -- I think it's the right thing when you see the movie, I think you will feel the same.

KING: And the two of you, was that immediate the way you clicked?

COSTNER: Well, it starts with the writing, you know. With the screenwriter, Craig Storper. And we started working on the script together at a certain point. And we knew who we wanted. And what it did -- it fit his rhythms. And that's not to say that this was like falling off a log for him, I mean, he is a very skilled, technical actor with a lot of natural gifts, too, and -- I just felt he was the -- he was the guy, and I think if you take two actors who like to act, and you give them good writing, you can make those -- that chemistry comes off. It's not always just about charisma, it's about the writing, it's a -- writing is the coin of the realm where I am concerned.

KING: It's on the page.


KING: Is it difficult to direct yourself?

COSTNER: I don't find that difficult. I traditionally have given myself fewer takes, but I know going in. I do things a little backwards than the rest of the community right now. I think (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a lot of times they are busy getting the elements together, and then we'll fix the script later, and we worked for five months before they sent the script anywhere, and the day we sent it to Robert, he said, yes, and that's the same thing. So we are talking about two world class actors who recognize writing.

That's what actors look for, believe it or not. They look for the writing, and often they don't find it, so they are hoping that people fix it along the way, and we see the casualties of movies, you know, suffer as a result of that.

KING: But when you self direct, are you self critical?

COSTNER: Well, I am, yeah, I mean -- listen, I don't think you can do things unless you go home and have a self-analysis. I mean, I go home, and I have my own report card about how I did. And I find I need to do better, I will the next day, I mean, I really will, and if I need to go back, I'll do that, but I -- I'm really specific when I work, so -- I'm ready to go to work, it's not like I think about what I have to do the next day tonight. I've thought about it two or three months in advance.

And I do that for a special reason. I do that because when you are prepared, what it does is it leaves a window of opportunity for you to step through, a window of creativity. So I know exactly what I am going to do, but if a great opportunity presents itself, I am not dismissive of it now, because I'm so agitated and have a lot of anxiety about having not already gotten it right. I mean, we are so ready to do the work, that a great opportunity presents itself, I am relaxed, and I can see it, instead of being, you know, overexcited.

KING: Why -- why, Kevin, we are going to talk about a lot of things tonight with Kevin Costner. The new film is "Open Range," which I saw, and I think it's a terrific western, maybe it's the best western since "Unforgiven."

COSTNER: Thanks.

KING: Saying a lot for it, and it's really engrossing with climaxes -- it runs about 45 minutes.

COSTNER: Yeah, yeah.

KING: You like action, you are going to get -- you are going to get plenty - oh, I want to ask you this. If a guy comes into the film late...


KING: He's got bandaged one arm. He's going to be a great villain, this guy, I don't know where you cast them, but you look at him, you hate him.

COSTNER: You do.

KING: And you knock him off like in a minute.

COSTNER: Well, I wonder...

KING: Why did you do that?

COSTNER: Because one of the things that already bothered me, the conventions of western, which is how the town suddenly empty out, no one is there. You never know exactly how that happens, but the staple of westerns is the town turns into a ghost town, and there's maybe a tumbleweed come flying through. So I am a kid and I am thinking, why does this always happen, where do the people go.

So I try to deal with that, but the thing you are talking about, which is the violence -- I try to tap into the men that watches this film. I make movies for men, but I also make movies that I think women will be able to watch, and that includes bringing women characters in, but when I say that I make them for men, I do it simply that -- I don't think there is a man out there that if threatened would not go for the person he thought was going to do him the most harm, the scariest person. We see it in sports, we identify the guy that we know is going to hurt us the most, and we go right after them.

So what I like to do in movies is apply that same sensibility to a life and death struggle. And I think the minute you do that, I think you actually bring the audience in, as opposed to orchestrating the fights where you meet him last and when you finally... (CROSSTALK)

COSTNER: You do. So what I don't do -- I don't - this fight is not politically correct. Charlie draws first and he shoots people in the foot. He will go after a mortally wounded man.

KING: Correct.

COSTNER: And -- and I don't think he is diminished by that.

KING: More with Kevin Costner, the actor, and an oscar award winning director and terrific guy. The film, this wonderful film, "Open Range". It opens next Friday, wide, as they say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just going to go off like that withough saying nothing?

COSTNER: Ain't nothing to say.

ROBERT DUVALL: I seen how you look at that gal, the way she looks at you. It ain't right to walk away without a word.

COSTERN: What do you want me to tell her boss? We probably ain't going to make it? You big fat humpert (ph).

DUVALL: I don't know what you should tell her Charlie, I mean, I wish I'd of said more to my wife before she passed. This may be the last time she sees you in this world, Charlie, or you her, so tell her whatever you can, because she's entitled to more than just your backside walking away.



COSTNER: I got no problem with killing boss, never have.

Men are going to get killed here today, soon, and I'm going to kill them.

DUVALL: A man's got a right to protect his property and his life and we ain't letting no rancher or his lawman to take either.


KING: Our guest is Kevin Costner, the film is "Open Range". Do you, you can't enjoy being in the tabloids all the time? You get used to it?

COSTNER: Well, I am not in them all the time. There was a moment in time, it seemed like it went forever, that I was in them, but you know, you live a public life, and you actually perform a public job, so -- I've never tried to live my life -- with the press, outside the lines of my movies, you never really see me do press outside, so it's all -- it's confined to a movie, and that's what I've done...

KING: Ever wonder why your life is anybody's business?

COSTNER: Well, you think about that a little bit. But you know, you know, you just -- you just have to get philosophical about it. And that's like an easy answer to say that, you know. I am affected by it. I don't want to be humiliated, I don't want to be made fun of, I don't want to be taken -- I take what I do seriously, so when someone does not take it seriously, that can bother me. When someone wants to minimalize (sic) me or be cute with me, that's not constructive, and so it's difficult to accept something when it is not constructive.

KING: Is your personal life happy now?

COSTNER: I am happy.

KING: Going to get married?

COSTNER: I am. I've dated a woman for four years, and it comes a point in your life where you decide that the title girlfriend is not really appropriate, you know, and significant other, and all the words that we seem to have these days floating around. You know, you get to the point where you look at her, and you want her to feel -- we are on our best when our women are with us, we really are, and there was a point where it was not appropriate, and it's more appropriate now to introduce people to her as my future wife.

KING: Does she like what you do?

COSTNER: No, she does not -- not...


COSTNER: No, see, I am wrong. She does not care about, she did not know about the movies, she did not think about them, she did not -- she could not tell you hardly any actors that were in movies, so it was not a...

KING: She's not a movie (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

COSTNER: No, no. She is -- she is somebody that, you know, hunts and fishes with me and dives and plays sports and we kind of -- if we are two (UNINTELLIGIBLE) running really fast, if I run over a log, if I turn around, I am going to get run right over by her. She just comes really fast, and she is -- she just moves...

KING: How did you meet?

COSTNER: We met for about 20 minutes six years -- maybe about 10 years ago. For just about 20 minutes on a golf course. She was putting, and I was talking to her. It was right at "Waterworld," and I had just come back from Hawaii, and did not see her for five years after that, and she -- she walked up to me at a restaurant, she said, you know, I am -- you know, I am like 6 years old, do you remember me now? And you know, I looked at her and I kind of did, and we began -- we talked a little bit, and we exchanged numbers and I told her that I would -- did she mind if I called her in two weeks. I did not realize that was like an insult to a woman, I just thought, I am working, and I can't really deal with anything until two weeks from now. I don't know if she thought I was trying to break up with somebody. I didn't know what.

You know, I am not always the cleverest with that kind of thing, but I called her the next night, and she came up to the set when we were making "13 Days," and...

KING: Great movie, by the way.

COSTNER: Thank you. And she came, and she stayed for lunch, and she stayed for dinner, and we've been really together ever since.

KING: During those days when you were apparently paired off with everyone...


KING: Was that good for you?

COSTNER: No. And clearly, you are not paired off with everyone, you know. I -- I did not have a series of girlfriends. There was some really quality women that I knew and liked. And I was not ready to do that. I -- listen, it was, you know, I've never tried to (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I don't use that word loosely. And like I said, I did not have a parade of girls that were being introduced to my children. I -- you know, I did not know if love was going to come to me a second time. And I hoped that it would.

And they were people of quality that could have -- could have very well been that, but I was not ready for that. It wasn't them; it was me.

KING: You weren't sure what's going to happen?

COSTNER: Was not sure what was going to happen. I...

KING: No one knows.

COSTNER: Yeah. I mean, I did not know, that I -- I did not know that I could be settled.

KING: What told you you could?

COSTNER: Well, the minute you don't covet something, or else you realize you don't covered anything, you know, I -- I kind of learned that first with my land, and I had dreamed a place that I wanted in Aspen, and I dreamed that since I was a little kid. I did not know where I would find it. I looked in Washington, I looked in Idaho, I looked in all the special places in the world. And I found this place in Aspen, Colorado, and it was the first time where I could look at someone else's land and it was like -- you have beautiful land, I don't covet it because I know what I have. I am really content.

And I felt with Christine that -- I did not covet anything else.

KING: It's a great feeling, isn't it?


KING: To finally have that. And so, you have a wedding date?

COSTNER: We don't have a date, but we are going to figure out when our friends can come play with us for three or four days, because, you know, our wedding will be a couple of hours, but probably we'll just rodeo, and fish, and play. I mean, we are kind of the YMCA when people come with us.

KING: I don't imagine Kevin Costner's selling the film rights to a wedding. Something tells me this is not a "People" magazine event.

COSTNER: No, it's not. I mean, they are pretty resourceful, how they do things. I don't know -- I don't know how we are going to deal with that. I don't know if they would be that interested.

KING: You don't think that "People" are interested in you?

COSTNER: I don't know, it's not important, you know. I really don't know how we'll fare in that department.

KING: How do you balance professional and personal? Is that hard?

COSTNER: Well, I think, you try to act professionally in both, you know, in some way. Personally, my personal relationships I take seriously. I try to cultivate them, I work at them. And professionally, I do the same thing. I -- you know, we've been working for over a year on "Open Range."

KING: And all the times I've known you, I've never seen you -- you don't have an entourage, you don't act above it, you are like a regular guy. And that's strange in your business. Are you aware that that's strange?

COSTNER: I travel, I travel (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I paid the price for that sometimes, but I never tried with my children, to say, oh, daddy can't go here, because you know, daddy will get, you know, mobbed or something like that, you know. I mean, probably the hardest place in the world for me to go is Disneyland, and yet it's one of great places in the world to go because people think you are part of the ride a little bit, and...

KING: You don't go wearing disguises?

COSTNER: No, I don't. And I don't need to. And you know what? There is a thousand people out there that will defend me. And when I say that, I mean, wherever I go -- I don't have to do it, because I go in, and I sit down, and I am with my family, I am open to them, I never say don't...

KING: Most people are nice? COSTNER: Yes, they are, and if anybody steps out of line, be it in a bar, be it in a restaurant, there is 10 guys that will stand up and say, don't. I don't have to make a big scene wherever I go. I mean, the easiest thing in the world is to be noticed if you want to be.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll talk with Kevin Costner about too much too soon, early fame, handling that. He is the star, co-star, yes, you are a co-star. Robert Duvall and Annette Bening, and "Open Range." It opens next Friday, it's terrific. Don't go away.


DUVALL: You Charlie, we never asked eachother much. It's always been OK with me I figure it was OK with you, but you said some things the last couple days, things that seemed like they had, kind of a history to them. Hey, Charlie?

COSTNER: Don't stand behind me, boss.




COSTNER: Wait a second. Wait a second why him? I built this field. You wouldn't be here if it weren't for me. Well you wouldn't be here if it weren't...

JAMES EARL JONES: Ray, for Gods sake. I'm unattached. You have a family.

COSTNER: I know, but I want to know what's out there. I want to see it.

RAY LIOTTA: But you're not invited.

COSTNER: Not invited? What do you mean, I'm not invited? That's my corn out there. You guy's are guests in my corn.


KING: We are back with Kevin Costner, the star and the director of "Open Range." You've had a roller-coaster ride, success wide, right?


KING: ...tremendous success films, failure films?


KING: Failure hard to deal with?

COSTNER: Well, it's...

KING: I mean, box office failure. I don't want to talk about esthetics.

COSTNER: Yeah, I think, box office is -- you know, I feel like -- you want a movie to be successful. I never started one that I did not think had a chance to in the writing, and somewhere along the line something happens, either good or bad. But it happens, and -- but -- the writing has always been to the point where I thought these movies could be great.

And sometimes greatness, only the smallest thing can tip it. I mean, you take a movie like "Field of Dreams," which could have been considered really hokey, but in some way will live in our imagination forever.

KING: One of the great movies ever made.

COSTNER: But that movie stood a chance to be really kind of crazy, and the director, Phil Robinson, who really does not get enough credit, you know, it seems to be like it's my movie. It's not my movie. I'm a part of it. I sensed its greatness, and wanted to be part of it.

But I point that out because that movie was the easiest movie in the world for you to dismiss, and yet it held its line, it was true to its writing, and it's become really our generation's "It's a Wonderful Life."

KING: Ghosts of old ballplayers. I could sell that as...


COSTNER: It is very, very difficult, but I would say that I have other movies that ran that same line because I believe in the literacy of movies. And they need to actually hold their line, and when they don't, because the ride a close edge, they quickly can either become soft or schmaltzy. And at one point in the writing, they weren't.

So I have been disappointed sometimes in how the movies have turned out, but, you know, that -- that's life, and I've had wonderful movies, but ultimately I believe that the value of the movie isn't its box office. I think, that's how it's measured now, that's the coin of the realm now, and I don't want to be dismissive and act like I don't live in this world.

But I think the true measure of a movie is where you take it off a shelf five years from now and show your son. Will you take it off 20 years from now, and it has the same relevance, the same meaning and the same -- and say, watch this movie or watch this moment.

That -- that is really the measure of a film for me, but it's not the god we pray to now, and I live in the real world, so I have had disappointments, and it's made, for instance, it made making "Open Range" really hard, because I haven't had the obvious box office success. But it's really OK, because like the "Dances" or whatever, I went off and did it myself.

KING: "Dances With Wolves" they would have bet against, right?

COSTNER: Well, they did, and they did against "Field of Dreams," and of course they did against "Bull Durham," and -- but that's OK. I mean, I actually know when that gambling is taking place.


KING: Yes, but who are they?

COSTNER: I don't know who they is, and I can't get caught there. I've got to just keep trying to make movies that I think can live forever, and that's really the idea. And the minute that the bar isn't high for me, meaning that that's what I want it to be, then I probably shouldn't do this.

KING: What was it -- was "Untouchables" your first -- what was the movie that made you?

COSTNER: Probably -- well, I'll tell you...

KING: The public got to know you.

COSTNER: I don't know. Way I got to be known was through Lawrence Kasdan. He, number one, I learned more from him than probably anybody, but the three directors, you know, you know, Lawrence Kasdan...

KING: And his movie was?

COSTNER: Well, it was "The Big Chill," and then it was "Silverado." "Silverado" was the movie that I think caught people's attention.

KING: A western.

COSTNER: A western. And then really out of that, you know, I did "No Way Out," which was...

KING: One of my favorite movies.

COSTNER: Yes, and then "Untouchables." So those three movies right there were the movies that somehow gave me a flashy character, then suddenly, oh, he can carry a movie, and then "Untouchables," where he can hold his own against blah, blah, blah, you know, a bit, and I don't want to say blah, blah, blah meaningless, but Sean Connery and Robert DeNiro, so there is these things that were going on, but you know, where I really felt comfortable was with guys like Lawrence Kasdan or Kevin Reynolds, and Ron Shelton, you know. You know, just really good directors.

KING: True, in "No Way Out," someone told me that it was your idea to have him be a Russian spy?

COSTNER: No, it wasn't. No, that's not true. It was a great script, it was in...


COSTNER: It was my idea to make that movie. It was sitting at Warner Brothers, and no one was going to make it. And Orion wanted to make some movies with me based on "Silverado." Mike Medavoy specifically, Eric Prescow (ph), Bill Bernstein (ph), they, you know, wanted to make movies with me, and I said -- they did not have anything that I liked at the time. And I saw this movie, it was called "Finished With Engines," which is a Naval term for shutting down. And -- and they read it, and they liked it, and we went off and made it...


COSTNER: And then we titled it -- yes, and then we titled it "No Way Out."

KING: So he was always Russian?

COSTNER: He was. It wasn't me.

KING: And those words you spoke at the end were actual Russian words?

COSTNER: They were.

KING: You knew them, right?

COSTNER: Yeah. I don't know them now.

KING: One of the great twist endings.

COSTNER: Yeah, yeah. I also thought it was a little unfair what we did there, to be honest. I felt like there was a few more clues in that movie that we should have left in the movie, but it was cut for time, which a lot of things are. And I thought that it would not come as such a solar plex shot. You know what I mean? It would have, still, but what I like is when you revisit the movie, you would have been found those clues. And so, I am really a big one about leaving more in than less.

KING: The only one I remember is he runs somewhere and makes a phone call, right?


KING: A mysterious phone call.

COSTNER: Well, he orders Stoli, he orders vodka, and he orders a few other kind of things, but there was a few more, and I felt that that was more fair to keep those.

KING: Our guest is Kevin Costner. We'll talk more about "Open Range" and lots of other things right after this. Don't go away.



COSTNER: I need a car. It's an emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry. Commander CIG's (ph) got everything.

COSTNER: This one. Bring this one down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, you can't take that. That transmission's busted, man, I got to fix it, come on, comeon.

COSTNER: Watch your toes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Get out of there. Get out of there right now.




KING: We're back with Kevin Costner. Is it true that you were talking with Princess Di about doing like a follow-up to "The Bodyguard?"

COSTNER: Well, you know, I laid out -- what happened was -- that happened. That was true. And I have not tried to bring this up and I didn't really bring it up...

KING: Someone told me today.

COSTNER: ... at the point of -- yes, even at the point of her point -- we had them talking. We talked twice. And we thought about the sequel to "Bodyguard." I haven't done sequels, but when we hit on the idea of Di, we thought, wow, that could be special. So we ran it past -- we ran it past -- I ran it past, and we had a talk about it, and she was really lovely, and this caused a little furor about four or five years ago, so I'm glad you're bringing that up again so I can get into the middle of it, Larry.


COSTNER: The royals said that that wasn't true. And that really sat wrong with me, because...

KING: You don't lie.

COSTNER: I don't. I don't, really. I know I'm not a perfect person, but I don't need to lie about that. It was not important to do that, and in fact, we had some talks. She never said she was going to do it. She said she was very interested in doing it, and if it was right, she would. So I've never said she was doing it, and when people write it, they have a tendency to say that, but the reality was I said -- because I'd worked with Whitney, I said, I can protect you, I can make you come off. And she was intrigued by it. And she said at the time, she said, look, my life is about to change.

I didn't know really what that meant, I wasn't sure, but it meant whatever it meant. And we worked on the script. And the day I got the script, it was either that day or the next day, she left us. She was gone. And I was up in Aspen when it happened, and of course, like DiMaggio, like Bob Hope, like Princess Di, it's all over the news what's going on with us. Everybody in the world on a microphone. And I probably had, if you wanted to break it down from a tabloid standpoint, the next biggest story to her being, you know, whatever, but I didn't say anything. I didn't say anything for four or five months about it.

And some smart, legitimate newspaper person figured it out. Figured out there was something, they heard some tidbit, and then they came to me, and at a certain point I said, yes, that was true, and of course then we got word back that that wasn't true, and I just said, look, let's not go back and forth, because that family doesn't need to be hurt anymore. Don't say something that I'm not being truthful about. Please don't say that, you know. She had a husband, she has sons, and there's no reason to make hey on it. But what I wasn't going to take was a beating from them. So I said, don't do it.

KING: Did you like dealing with her?

COSTNER: Well, she was very -- I only dealt with her twice, and she was sweet and she was beautiful and she asked if there would be some kissing scenes, and I said there would be.

KING: She looked -- that would have been a big movie.



COSTNER: It made sense to me, and it was what it was.

KING: What personal -- you ever turned down a role you regretted?

COSTNER: I have. I didn't do "Platoon," and not -- it wasn't offered to me...

KING: You turned down "Platoon?"

COSTNER: It wasn't offered to me formally, but I probably had the inside track, my brother was in Vietnam, and in the murder themes were something that was being attached to the Vietnam vet a lot, the kind of crazy, not being able to go forward, and I thought, I don't need to do this to him. And I regret not doing it, because it was a really fine movie. But that was the reason why I didn't.

KING: "Hunt for Red October," were you offered that?

COSTNER: Well, I was offered that, but I wanted to do this Indian movie called "Dances With Wolves," and no one exactly understood what I was doing, and they offered me an extraordinary amount of money, which more than I had ever thought or dreamed of, but I have given my word to my partner that we'd go off and make this movie, and so we did.

KING: The star is Kevin Costner. He's also the director of "Open Range" a terrifc western. It opens next Friday. Don't go away.


COSTNER: Speaking in Souix language.


COSTNER: Speaking in Souix language.




COSTNER: I believe there ought to be Constitutional ammendment outlawing astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, softcore pornography, open you presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas eve. And I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.

Good night.



KING: We're back with Kevin Costner, the film "Open Range," next Friday it opens.

What did you make of your friends up at the Hall of Fame disinviting Sarandon and Robbins? They were going to re-show "Bull Durham," a great idea, and make it a Hall event, but because they spoke out against Iraq...

COSTNER: I know.

KING: Mistake?

COSTNER: Seemed like it was, but you know, I mean, Tim and Sue, they're -- I think they're smart. I think I learned -- every time I'm around them I think I learn something. Doesn't mean I agree with everything that goes on, but you know, they had gone up there to have a good time. They didn't need to talk about that issue. They probably didn't even want to talk about it. And when they were disinvited, I want to -- this is really important. Their kids were hurt. Their kids were wondering, what's wrong with our parents? And there's nothing wrong with them. And that really hurt me when I found out that their kids were, you know, were like, we're not invited now because you have the courage to speak out against something? And it was bothersome to me, because they're total Americans, they're total patriots, and they have a lot of courage. It's just they're operating in their own way, artistically, professionally, and they have their eyes wide open, and they really speak from their hearts. And they're actually the kind of people we need to protect in some way, because they're decent, you know. They weren't using small language, they weren't making jokes. They spoke out in a very fair way.

KING: You're a baseball player?

COSTNER: Yes, I enjoy playing. All my life.

KING: Were you ever professional?

COSTNER: No. No. I wasn't even -- was a very average player even in high school. I became stronger as I left high school and into college and it became later on apparent to me that I probably could have played farther, but as a high school kid, I wasn't fully developed, and I just wasn't a sought after athlete.

KING: Do you regard it a negative when people say that you're old fashioned?

COSTNER: No, not really. I mean, you know, might be a term of endearment.

KING: You're like out of the '40s. I mean, you're like that kind of star in the '40s.

COSTNER: Yeah, I don't know.

KING: Do you self-examine yourself a lot?

COSTNER: No, not really. I like playing the characters I do. I try to play my age and go through with it. I mean, Charlie is a pretty rough and gruzzle (ph) character.

KING: He sure is.

COSTNER: We're not trying to hide, you know...

KING: Nothing movie star about Charlie.

COSTNER: Yes, there's nothing. But you know, because, and it's OK, he comes off great, though, because the play is still the thing, it ain't how you look, it's what you say, you know. It's what you stand for.

KING: Why do you like being other people?

COSTNER: I don't know. I've always been a story teller, you know. And I've always wanted to share a good story. Just as someone might want to share a good book, if I read it, and if I hear a great piece of music, you know, or for that matter, something as simple as a great joke, there's something great about sharing something creative. It's almost -- even a sociopath will do it. I heard the greatest -- and the guy might be a rat, but there's something almost universal about wanting to share something like that.

KING: Was "The Untouchables" difficult to do only because Ness was so straight-laced?

COSTNER: It was hard for me to do, because the other characters had a little more license to improv. And you're kind of stuck with your -- you can't get down in the street with him a little bit, and it was a little difficult for me, because I was a little inexperienced, and I had difficulty, you know, when someone would go off book, so to speak, how am I going to deal with that with my character? I could get into the street with him real easy, but I would have left Elliott Ness behind.

But it was OK, because Elliott could be square. I mean, Elliott has a great line in that movie, and it's an innocuous line, it doesn't really have a lot to do, but it's when his wife calls him and him and Sean Connery have been -- had a big argument themselves, and the phone call comes in, and in the midst of all he's going through, life and death situations, his wife is asking him about the kitchen, and he hangs up the phone and he's a little quiet. And Sean Connery says, "Was that your wife?" I said, "Yeah." And he goes, "What did she want?"


COSTNER: She's sitting in some room, surrounded by people she doesn't know going over kitchen color charts or something. Some part of the world still cares what color the kitchen is.


And I love that line. You know, it doesn't drive the movie forward, but you know that's someplace in America -- people, they care about stuff. They do. Inside all the worries they have and all the cynicism and skepticism going on out there, they do care.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments, talk more about "Open Range," with Kevin Costner, right after this.


SEAN CONNERY: If you open the ball on these people Mr. Nash you must be prepared to go all the way, because they won't give up the fight until one you is dead.

COSTNER: I want to get Capone. I don't know how to get him.

CONNERY: You want to get Capone? Here's how you get him, he pulls a knife, he pulls a gun. He sends one of your to the hospital, you send of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way and that's how you get Capone.




ANNETTE BENING: We could wire for the federal marshal.

COSTNER: If he started riding today he wouldn't make for a week with the storm coming, maybe longer. We're obliged to deal with the marshal and Baxter ourselves.

BENING: What about Button (ph)?

COSTNER: Well he's fighting for his life, we're going to do the same.


KING: We're back with Kevin Costner. "Open Range" is an original screenplay, right?

COSTNER: Well, it's based on a novel. I didn't know that -- we started working on the script, and he said, you know, this is a novel, and I went, all right, OK.

KING: Did you have to pay for the rights?

COSTNER: But we still kept going forward.

I'm sorry?

KING: Did you pay for the rights to the novel? Did the writer of the novel...

COSTNER: Yes, we did everything that way.

KING: This is an old fashioned kind of western, isn't it?

COSTNER: Hopefully...

KING: Good and evil.

COSTNER: It's not that simple, you know. I think that's the problem with westerns, is they've been too simple, and people have a tendency to actually think that that was a simpler time, and I disagree. I feel that fundamentally, it was much more difficult. You know, nowadays, if we have a problem with somebody, our lawyer will step in for us, or our agent, or perhaps our publicity person will somehow put a spin on things.

Back then, a man, a woman, you know, arbitrated their problems. They had to be very resourceful, and they had to be incredibly tough. And so our ancestors, you know, they were -- it was not simpler for them.

KING: No, but we took sides in this movie. I mean, we wanted. COSTNER: We do. Yes, we do. I mean, it was a -- it could be a true story, because it was a -- a way of life that was passing, and with the advent of -- of -- is that a right word, advent?

KING: Yeah.


KING: Railroad.

COSTNER: Yes, of barbed wire, specifically, began to close these open tracks of land that men would make their living, and so suddenly, you'd see people stake the ground and stake (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and put a mask over their face, a la the Ku Klux Klan and say, you're not going by here. And there were some men in this world who couldn't take that.

KING: The casting of the Irishman, that wonderful actor who played...

COSTNER: Sir Michael.

KING: ... LBJ on HBO, won an Emmy.

COSTNER: Sir Michael Gambon. Well, of course our country was settled by Europeans, and that created a great amount of conflict, not because they were Europeans, but you had these multiple languages existed out in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) frontier where no one could speak with each other, let alone the native population that existed there.

KING: And as bad as he was, he sure believed in his concept, didn't he?

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