A lot of times with these franchise-type movies, the studio asks you to sign like a three-picture deal or a five-picture deal. I would imagine they asked you to sign something like that to be involved. Were you a little apprehensive about signing something that was for multiple pictures, or did you not do that?
Kevin Costner: Well, really, I think that the second one depends on the first one, so I’m not really that apprehensive. I think they’re not going to want to make one if it’s not good, and I’m not going to want to make a second one if the first one’s not good. So I won’t be tied to something that’s not working, that won’t happen. If it’s not working, why would any of us want to do it?
Working with Kenneth was one of the attractions, you said?
It is! It’s really good, he’s very thoughtful. He makes a point like a coach sometimes. Maybe even if you’re not very good he says, “You were really good!” as opposed to directors who just go, “Jesus!” And you walk home and think, “Aren’t you going to say something about today?” You know, Kenneth makes a real point to say, “It was good,” he writes you a little note. It’s nice, actually, it’s kind of thoughtful if you get down to it. He’ll say, “It was very smart today, it had a good crackle to it,” or something like that. And I look at him and I’m thinking, “Really?” I just love that he’s that way, and I like a director who’s enthused, and then when he turns around and looks at somebody he says, “I’m going to have to fix it with a scissors.”
You have something in common with him in that you’re both actor/directors who have done movies where you’re also acting. As a director he kind of shies away from acting in his own movies but he’s doing that again. Have you had scenes with him so far?
No, no, and I won’t, either. I mean, we met each other when we were both very young, when he had just had his big success with…um, him and Emma when they did that big movie, it’s slipping my mind for a second. He came to Los Angeles, I had him over to my house, and so we’ve been very familiar with each other but not pen pals, not phone calls or anything like that. He asked me two or three years later to do a Dead Man something, Andy Garcia ended up doing it actually. I said at that point that it didn’t speak to me at all, I didn’t think so, but I’ve always been fond of watching what he’s up to because he’s really a classic actor and that was probably the single biggest reason why I did this.
So did this film speak to you more than that film?
Actually, not really, it was Kenneth! I thought he has his mind on how this is going to work so I thought well, let’s just see.
You mentioned that you sort of took some time away and didn’t act as much and now you’re getting back into that world. What sort of roles are attracting you, what sort of things are drawing your attention now?
Well, I’ve submitted a lot of things during that same time, but I tell you the roles that I’m really attracted to are the ones that I write for myself and develop. Once in a while something that somebody else does, you know, will speak out loud to you. Luc Besson has a movie that I’m going to go do called Three Days to Kill. I don’t know why we call it Three Days to Kill because it’s not three days to kill! I’m going to talk to him about that! That character really speaks out loud to me so I really want to do that, but I would really like to get back to the things that I’ve developed because I kind of know how they are, I know when they start and when they end and I know all the scenes that I like and I’m not making up any pages on the day.
I’m pretty anal about my own approach. I don’t start a movie until the script is done and completed, I don’t leave room for pages to start changing, for studios to start sliding notes under the door, whatever, I really like to know what I’m doing. I like to rehearse, and so even the movies that I do I carve out almost a week and a half to two weeks for rehearsal, which is really not part of the budgets anymore these days. But I like my actors to do that because I don’t like to rehearse on the day, because I think all that is a blocking to me, I really like them to be comfortable, and I like to put them under pressure early so that when the day comes they’re more at ease. So on the day of rehearsal they say, “Well I’m not really ready.” And I say, “Well, you should be ready!” And then they drive home that night and go, “Oh, s**t, I wasn’t ready!” But what happens is that three or four days or a week later, they’re really ready. So that really is the process of acting is rehearsal and somewhere along the line film, I think for the most part, doesn’t feel like they have to do that. People do not value that process anymore.
Speaking of acting, what, in your opinion, is Chris Pine bringing to the role of Jack Ryan?
Well he fits that long prototype of a guy — you know we’ve had guys like James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson who were really cool tough guys but they weren’t classically handsome men, they were just powerhouses. You know, Spencer Tracy, just powerful people. Chris fits that classic — look, I played that role in “No Way Out.” There’s that thing in America where you’re like six-feet, you know, you’re white or something like that, and you get to play these roles. And he is stepping into that time-honored spot and it’s not an easy one. Everybody thinks it’s easy, it’s not so easy to carry a movie, it’s really not so easy. In fact, it’s the evolution of your stature in Hollywood because — I remember I played “Silverado” and everyone was like, “Wow, that guy is really flashy, that’s really cool!” And then it’s like “Well, he can’t carry a film!”
So it’s always these things that you gotta get over, and Chris is in that moment because he fits the way a lot of these stories read for a traditional lead, and so it’s not boring and it shouldn’t be underestimated how good you have to be to actually be able to do that. Other people get to come into a movie and do accents and do little funny things and be incredible character actors and you just have to be boring lead! Not that it’s boring but you just have to be that guy, you cannot be concerned if somebody starts to steal the movie, you know what I mean? You actually have to be smart enough as a lead actor to want that to happen, you want somebody to come in and be very flashy, you know, that makes for a better movie. So he fits in that category.
Are you stealing his spotlight in this movie?
No, it’s not that, but in order for this to even work, whenever Keira opens her mouth, or I open my mouth, or the bad guy opens his mouth, whatever, we have to feel like it’s advancing the plot. If everybody’s just there to serve the lead actor, it can fall flatter.
So is your relationship with him like your relationship in the film as a kind of mentor?
Yeah, but he doesn’t lean over to me and ask for advice. He’ll want to lean over and ask about someone like Gene Hackman or something. “Have you met him?” So those will be the kind of sidebars just before we’re acting and I’ll think, “Hmm, I’m glad he wants to know about who these people are.” You knew him, you met him, you’ve worked with him, and then maybe a little story will come out. I can see that he appreciates the history of movies and the people in them.
Haven’t been in that role yourself, the role he’s in now, do you prefer to kind of being the support, to not having as much of the weight on your shoulders?
Well, it’s nice in a sense, but I like to take people through a story so I don’t — you know, it’s nice to have days off, to see the sun come out! But I will continue to be leads, but I’m not afraid to play a supporting part, I don’t feel like that diminishes me, I don’t feel like “Oh, that’s a sign of the times now,” you know what I mean? I still get the girl! If it’s written!
Where has most of your filming been? Have you been shooting mostly in the New York scenes or the offices?
We were in New York a minimal amount of time, two or three days, and then we came and shot here in London. I mean, I did a movie here called Upside of Anger and that movie is flat-out supposed to be shot in Detroit. There was only one shot of the Detroit skyline and we never went there. We did it all here, so London has proved pretty resourceful.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens in theaters on January 17, 2013.