Franchises are becoming better at trying to work character beats into stories – it’s not just about the action. It sounds like that is what you guys are trying to do here?
Kevin Costner: There’s actually a big difference between story and character. A great story doesn’t make a great movie. A great script, which defines its moments and characters can become a great movie. You can make a movie that makes a lot of money and it may or may not have great story or great characters. Sometimes they succeed in spite of what the building blocks are.
You’ve always taken risks when you could have made The Bodyguard 2 or Robin Hood 2. What is it that keeps you wanting to move forward and try different things?
I always feel like I’m done with those movies. They stood a chance to get remade. I miss the era of remaking all those. I think that frustrated people – that I wouldn’t go ahead and do that. I did however, on The Bodyguard. I was going to make that for a moment. Princess Diana was being really considered for that part. You know, people have asked me to make Tin Cup, Bull Durham, Dances, you know those things. I was just always interested in what I could do next. I would have made any one of those had the script been really good. So I’m not above the idea.
Is it just really fought getting the script in place?
For me the guys writing those are one-off guys too. Lawrence Kasdan, Ron Shelton, they move on in their lives. They’re very individual. It’s clearly the smart move to create something like this or that. I get that it’s a very good career move to do that.
Do you notice any difference between working with British actors or American actors? Is there a different process?
Here’s the thing – the accent is cool. I know that sounds what it is. It’s like a girl with big breasts – they get your attention first. I remember really early on in acting class and I saw a couple of British actors who were beginning too. They were beginning, they were beginners and they just thought that they would like to do this and they would read the same scene as other beginning actors, but the accent was hypnotic. They weren’t better actors, but easier to listen to. They sounded more elegant. I thought, ‘F**k, he’s really good. Is it his accent, or what is it?’
Every British actor I’ve worked with has been very disciplined. I think they understand the notion of rehearsal, actually appreciate it more appropriately, a little more than American actors do. I think it’s probably because of their training. That’s a general statement. I know American actors who like rehearsal the way I do, but all in all people are like, ‘hey, just tell me where to stand.’ You go, ‘really? Right out there it’s about 40 degrees. When you come back in you should know your lines’.
When you’re approaching a character, especially this one, where you find the access point and start developing into that person?
Being a lead you actually don’t have the chance to climb into the role. You don’t. You have to take people through the story. That’s where we started with, that basic question. Chris can’t start suddenly doing a lisp and a limp and everything – because it would be a really good choice, wouldn’t it? Yeah, but not for a lead. You have to have the confidence to know when you’re just supposed to tell the story.
In Hatfields and McCoys I had to play pretty straight. What you do is find your emotion in that and try to become, what I call ‘everyman’. Everyman who watches this goes, ‘I’m that guy’, I’m not depending on him to dazzle. People like McQueen and Paul Newman and all those guys took you through the story. When I see a character that I can really do, it’s actually easier because, you put on his clothes. Sometimes standing there and delivering lines feels really naked and that’s why a lot of people have more trouble doing it than they think. They think, ‘I can be Gary Cooper’ Really? Try it. ‘I could be Spencer Tracy’ Then why aren’t there more Spencer Tracys? Cause it’s hard to just stand there and deliver.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens in theaters on January 17, 2013.