Kevin Costner is one of Hollywood’s great leading men, anchoring films like The Untouchables and Field of Dreams with his easy-going everyman charm. As an actor he has thrilled audiences in a variety of big movies such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Waterworld, while also starring in political films such as JFK and Thirteen Days. As a director he has also brought the epics Dances With Wolves, Open Range and The Postman to the screen during the course of his 30-year career.
Over the last few years Costner has shied away from acting to work to focus on his family, but now he’s back in a big way. Last summer saw him take-on the role of Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel, while this year sees him in Three Days To Kill. Draft Day and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Screen Rant spoke with Costner on the set of the latest film to based on Tom Clancy’s creation, where he discussed acting, directing and taking risks in Hollywood. Costner was gracious with the questions, exuding charm and wit in equal measure, showing that he's just as interesting in person as he is on screen.
So what got you on the road to join the Jack Ryan family?
Kevin Costner: I don’t really know what is going to happen with this thing. I have a tendency to make one movie at a time, I always have. I wanted to work with Kenneth, I wasn't thinking far down the road because you never know, about the time you get caught doing that, the franchise doesn't work out or something like that. I tend to do one at a time and see if people like it, that’s really what you have to do. I think it’s okay to look — I think that’s what executives do, they look down the line, and I think you need to keep your eye on the ball and see what that can be.
You've been offered Jack Ryan…
There’s a couple things. I might have been offered Superman 25 years ago, not that I was! But you can tell 25 years have passed because then they offer you Superman’s dad. (Everyone laughs.) So, I was offered the Jack Ryan series back in the very beginning, and I couldn't do it. I think it was Hunt for Red October was the first one. I couldn't do it because I had already postponed Dances With Wolves for one year, and now I had a chance to do this Red October but I had already assembled this crew and I’d put my money into it, and then they offer me really a lot of money, more than I had ever seen to do Hunt for Red October, and I said, “You know, ‘No’ doesn't mean more, it’s just no.” And it was like oh, that silly little Indian movie. And then I started to think it was this silly little Indian movie! But I went off and did that, and then never caught back up with the thing. It seemed like different people played Jack Ryan or something like that. I think Jack Ryan passed me. I have to be the guy who says, "You better hurry up, I mean it, she’s right behind you!"
When you signed on for this film, and maybe we’re wrong, we were discussing this before you sat down, that the idea was for the character you’re playing to be involved in these other movies. Can you explain that?
I've heard that. I really, sincerely did not go into that. Call it superstition, call it whatever you want, I have not sat down with anyone and gone, “How is this going to work? How would this work?” I've really tried to support Chris Pine in this one the very best that I can, I’m a bit of his handler, you know, you could use the word mentor, you could use whatever it is. As you know, he doesn't start off carrying a gun, he’s a financial guy who has military experience, military background. And the deeper it goes, he has to come up with the right movie stuff, so to speak, the guy who can defend himself, and stuff like that. I think the idea is that there would be several agents under his purview that he is able to manage. And when I say, “I think,” that’s sincerely what I mean, I haven’t really talked to anybody about how that would play out. The part would have to continue to get more interesting and more interesting, more involved, more pro-active if you will.
Lorenzo (a producer) definitely downplayed the idea of you being a behind the desk in a chair mentor, he said you’re very physical in the field. Is that accurate?
You know, some guys are born for management, and some guys can straddle it, can go back and forth. Some guys were never meant to be out in the field at all. And I think he’s a person that can straddle, that can go in and sometimes there’s places where you just have get information, you have to know how to do it. I think that he straddles that line.
Would your character be sort of what Jack Ryan becomes or are you a totally different beast? Will he become more like your character as the series progresses?
I don’t know. I don’t know how Chris’s character will evolve. The hope is that he’ll be involved in a good story that’s exciting and that maybe you can relate your life to whatever circumstances they put in front of us.
How much do you have the Clancy books in your head when you’re playing a role like this?
I don’t have the Clancy books in my head. I have the script in my head. You know, I could say it four different ways but I really have not invested yet in what would come after this. I have some things I would like to direct, I have more cowboy movies I’d like to make some day. I spent the last five years really writing a lot and acquiring material. I have three babies under five and so I’m going to start to work right now, I haven’t worked that much. I’m coming out with Hatfields and Superman and now I’m going to start working a little bit. I’m going to Paris after this and work and then hopefully I’ll be directing this summer something that I've written.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens in theaters on January 17, 2013.