The Epic Western Still Affects Costner Like Manifest Destiny

INTERVIEW

'`ID like to think my life can add up to more than movies,'' Kevin Costner says. ``I'm taking a year off after my next film, to have time to rethink some things and maybe even reinvent myself.''

Mr. Costner, looking far from weary, says, ``It's the first time I've ever done so many films in a row in my life.'' He calls his current Warner Bros. release, ``Wyatt Earp,'' not just a western, but ``the big meal,'' a full-blown epic.

``I had this idea about three-and-a-half years ago,'' Costner explains. ``We all seem to love this narrow 40-year window in history. Wyatt Earp lived in the middle of it - he saw the buffalo disappear, the cow towns appear, wagon trains, railroad, freight, a new frontier. He became one of the West's legends.

``When my partner, Jim Wilson, and I first started talking about a movie on the life of Wyatt Earp, we saw it as a six-hour miniseries.''

In 1992, they approached writer-director-producer Lawrence Kasdan about this idea, but he wasn't interested. Mr. Kasdan had written and directed ``The Big Chill'' and gave Costner his first break in 1983 with a small role. But Costner's scenes were cut from the finished picture. When Kasdan told the young actor his part was out, Costner didn't make a big fuss. The director was so impressed by his lack of ego or anger, that he wrote Costner into his next movie - the 1985 western, ``Silverado.'' He also wrote ``The Bodyguard'' (1992) in which Costner starred.

Although Kasdan had no interest in a miniseries, he did make a counteroffer. `` `Instead of six hours of TV, why not let me write a different script that could develop into a three-hour movie?' '' Costner recalls Kasdan saying.

The result? An epic of a western that Mr. Wilson, Costner, and Kasdan produced, and Kasdan also directed.

``We didn't want Wyatt to be one-note; we exposed his dark side, his flaws. Early in the script, Gene Hackman, who plays Wyatt's father, drills into his four sons - `stick together, for there's nothing thicker than blood.' So when you see them walking shoulder to shoulder to the OK Corral, not knowing if they'll be dead in a few minutes, I wanted the audience to feel that family thing. To know there was someone walking next to you who would take a bullet for you.''

Costner, who won an Oscar for directing ``Dances With Wolves,'' doesn't plan to direct until after his year off. Even when he isn't directing or producing, he still offers advice.

``If I have an idea, or disagree with the director, I want to have a conversation about it.... If someone says, `Kevin, wait a second, think about it this way.' And `ding' a little light goes on and I agree. It gets to be - you can hear an idea, and know it will work.''

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK