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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Kevin Costner

Aired August 11, 2003 - 20:51   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It has been 13 years since Kevin Costner struck Hollywood gold with his big western "Dances With Wolves." There have been plenty of ups and downs since that dance with Oscar. Now Costner is back, directing and starring in a new western. He recently sat down with Paula Zahn to talk about "Open Range."
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Kevin Costner, welcome.

KEVIN COSTNER, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: Thanks, Paula.

ZAHN: Great to see you.

COSTNER: Thank you.

ZAHN: Welcome to town. I literally dragged him off the street to come in and do this interview.

COSTNER: Sure did. Sure did. She wrestled me to the ground.

ZAHN: Tell us a little bit about "Open Range." Are you excited about this one?

COSTNER: Well, I am. Because it's coming. I directed it. I directed it for several reasons. One, you know, I believe in the western genre. I know it's not exactly in vogue or -- and I think maybe for good reason. It's a movie that lately has gotten kind of lazy. It has gotten too simple. There is a whole generation of people who say I don't like westerns. There is a whole older generation says, you should like them, they're good, and there's that younger people say no, they're not. They are not. They don't speak to me, they're not relevant.

I think women feel the same. And but I don't think they have to be. Because they're about our history. They are our ancestors. And there is a moment in time, in a western, unlike maybe any other genre where you can sit in the dark and you can really measure yourself against another man or woman, and you can see a code of honor. And I know that in times like now that we live in, sometimes you got to find a code of honor. And it's not easy, about how you are going to behave in the face of people acting not so square.

ZAHN: You've always been motivated by that. That seems to be a common theme that runs through your movies. What is it about that that speaks to you?

COSTNER: Because I think we in our life we're constantly challenged to do the right thing, because there is so many easy ways out. There is the easy buck, there's the easy joke, there's the easy cut. And there is people that try to, you know, that can do that in an easy way, and you have to say to yourself, am I going to be that? Am I going to -- you know, am I going to cut somebody that I don't need to, am I going to be less than fair? Am I going to be casual? You know, I can take a lot of things in life, but I don't like it when people are casual with me. I don't like it when they waste my time. I don't like it when they're casual with my feelings, you know.

And I think there is a thing that we see in the West, that there is a sense of honor. If you want to invest in that, because when I talked about some of those westerns that I think have diminished us, was, you know, anybody can start a movie off where their family is killed and then for the next two hours there is this gigantic blood lust that you're supposed to accept, because anybody can tie into the idea of revenge. But it's another thing to actually try to humanize these people so that they're relevant to us in 2003.

ZAHN: And when you say the genre has gotten stale, that people have been lazy in this kind of story telling...

COSTNER: Yeah.

ZAHN: Why is it so relevant to you? What is it about the West that gets you? I know you spent a lot of time in the West, I know you love mountains, I know you like to fish.

COSTNER: I think all of us love the notion of wide open spaces and horizons, and the beauty of running horses, but that quickly has to fade and find a story between men and women. And I'm attracted to the little things. And it's not just the West. It's be it a romantic comedy or an epic political thriller. I think that there are moments in time when you create real dilemma. And dilemma by definition is we don't know how we're going to act. And when we don't know what we're going to do in a very critical situation, that creates drama, because are you going to be a rat, are you going to be a hero? Are you going to be a man or are you going to wilt like a daisy? Are you going to do the right thing, even if it's not to your advantage?

And when we see those moments orchestrated on film, we in a way, even if we're a sociopath, we go, I wish I was that person. That's who I want to be.

ZAHN: You mentioned that you don't like it when people are casual with your feelings. Tell us a little about the roller coaster ride you've been on professionally over the last couple of years.

COSTNER: Well, my ride is public. Maybe it's even international. But it's -- I'm -- when I say that, I think I'm speaking for a lot of people, not just me, or I'm not speaking against celebrity. I'm speaking for how we treat each other.

You know, that we don't need to be casual with each other. We need -- you know, we can be better to each other, and if we're not, we're going to continue to go the direction we are, which is we're cynical and we're skeptical. We need to be positive and romantic in a way about where America can go, what it can be. You know, if we keep sliding down, we're not going to take our place with the great civilizations. You know, Rome and the Egyptians and the Greeks, and they fell. And America has an interesting opportunity to be one of the great cultures, great civilizations.

Will we be? We're kind of about 200 years old in terms of when we hit go, when we passed go. Will we be? Are we going to like be petty? Are we going to be -- are we not going to be men as we go forward? Are we not going to evolve?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Tomorrow, we'll have more of Paula's interview with Kevin Costner. She'll ask why he never made sequels to his hit sport movies "Bull Durham" and "Tin Cup," and she gets him to open up about his love life.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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