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Interview with Kevin Costner

Aired August 12, 2003 - 20:53   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Kevin Costner was riding high after his movie "Dances with Wolves" collected seven Oscars, including best picture and best director. Now "Open Range" is generating positive buzz. Recently Paula Zahn sat down with Kevin Costner to talk about his hits and misses and more.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to talk about career arcs for a moment. I heard Sylvester Stallone talked about everybody expected things of him he could no more possibly deliver than god could. And I'm curious, over the last couple of years, you've come off these huge, huge hits, a couple of movies you made afterwards that didn't do as well, how do you get through that?

KEVIN COSTNER, ACTOR DIRECTOR: I think in your life you -- I could have probably made "Tin Cup 2" and "Bill Durham 2."

ZAHN: You should have.

COSTNER: That's probably good business advice. And it's probably good movie business. And I don't want to diminish the movies that do that, but it's not really how I chose to orchestrate my career. It might not necessarily translate into a business move. My career, for me, I would rather swing for the fence. I would rather go for the original experience. And you know, you can fail mightily, but you know what you're trying to do. Whether you do it or not, you know, in this world is not always as important as the notion, that's what you've been about, that's what you're trying to do.

And you know, I believe that movies can't be for every one. So not every movie you do can be a blockbuster to begin with. But a movie should be true to itself and true to the audience that's going to find it. Movies, I still believe people go and sit in that dark by themself or with someone they love or care about and they want something special to happen. They want to take a trip. And when they do, it's probably one of the great experiences, it's a great relationship you can have a an audience, because ultimately, when someone walks outside like seeing a great movie, just like a great book, like a great piece of music or even something as small as a funny joke, you want to share it. And that's when you know a movie's working.

And that's the value of the movie. And movies have been diminished by what is valuable. Is an opening box office weekend does that tell us it's actually a good movie. I'm like anybody else in the world, I want a big fat hit. Not so much I want to spit on my life or what it is I know. Because what I know in my heart, what is really a good movie is one you're willing to take off the shelve five years from now and share with it somebody or 20 years from now. Because we've all seen those movies and we know what that's about. And that's what I hope the movies I go to, that I pay to see, and that's what I hope my movie can be about.

ZAHN: What do you think is the best movie you've ever done?

COSTNER: I don't know. I've been proud of a lot of movies. I can start early on. I was proud of, "Fandango" and "No Way Out" and "Untouchables" and "Bull Durham" and "Field of Dreams," and "JFK."

I am proud of the movies I do. I stand behind them. They're not all perfect movies. But I don't want to turn my back on my work or what I've done, you know. And I certainly don't want to turn my back on a movie that hasn't lived up to someone else's expectations.

ZAHN: How personally do you take criticism?

COSTNER: Well, I -- you know, I can take criticism when I feel like it's constructive. When it's petty or it's cutting or reaches a high form of entertainment, you know, I mean, that's not easy for me to listen to. I wouldn't do that to a friend, I wouldn't do that to a child. I'm not a child, so I don't have to be treated like one. You know, on the other hand, I think something of all of us could do with constructive criticism, and make no mistake, I check in with myself. I'm aware of what things are.

ZAHN: And you're in a very happy space now, aren't you?

You just announced your engagement, congratulations.

COSTNER: Yes. Thanks. Thank you.

ZAHN: Are you going to share your wedding with our national television audience, or are you just going to disappear and elope or...

COSTNER: I've had a tendency not to live my life outside the lines of my movies. That seems to be pretty big news. It's only fleeting. I'm like everybody else in the world. I was looking for love and I got lucky with it.

ZAHN: You are very lucky. You feel blessed. You waited a long time.

COSTNER: We waited -- and we waited and then we dated. And I'm a rapper.

ZAHN: Your next career.

COSTNER: Yes, yes, that one.

ZAHN: Let me ask you this, are you going to be voting for Arnold Schwarzenegger in the recall election?

COSTNER: Well, I tell you what, I think there's nothing better in this country than good dialogue. You know, we're not in the 6th grade. We're not going to vote for somebody we know because we know them. And that's not how it has to do. The great problems that face not only California, they deserve dialogue. So I will be watching really carefully what people are saying. And I think when people do enter the race, they are going to force each other -- what I hope he does is talk about what he's going to do and not what somebody else hasn't done. Because, we're all aware of that on some level.

You know, let's face it, the problems don't exist with one man. There's a lot of people up there that have their fingerprints. Public service is a high, high honor and something that needs to be almost a 24 hour gig. In fact, when your term is over, you should be so exhausted generally speaking you don't ever want to run again. So, people who make a career out of it, I don't know how much they're working for us.

But, really, I don't want to see him talking about somebody else, I want to see him talking about solves. And I think that's where we need to be, because the country deserves solves. And people have to lay their egos down and not make what's good for the country a Republican or Democratic issue. You know, we have some problems and some of our problems can be solved if people lay their egos down and just get with the people's business.

ZAHN: Nice dodge. You didn't answer my question, whether you would support Arnold or not?

COSTNER: No. 1, voting is still a private thing. There's a booth, there's a curtain, you know. I couldn't vote for anybody at this stage. I'm really -- people have to earn our vote. They will earn our vote with the logic of their fight and their logic of their argument and it better not be petty.

ZAHN: By all acting, every critic has seen this film as -- described it as this beautiful, beautiful epic with sweeping views of the west. I congratulate you. Thank you for coming by and I hope it does very well.

COSTNER: Thank you.



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