Kevin Costner Black and White
We meet in Piazza Barberini, Rome, to discuss his new movie Black and White, which screened the day before at the Rome Film Festival.
‘Black and White’ is a tale of parental responsibility, where a grandfather, and attorney, played by Costner, grieving the loss of his wife in a sudden car accident, becomes embroiled in a tug of love custody battle over his biracial granddaughter, whom he has raised since the child’s mother (his daughter), died in childbirth. Octavia Spencer co stars as the African-American grandmother, who thinks that the child should be raised by her biological father, a drug addict. This family drama is about protection, social culture and race, calling into question a sense of belonging, and what that really means.
One of the themes in Black and white, your new film, is about racism. Tell me a bit more about that.
It amazes me what a racist world we live in. We all, as a human instinct, judge and make our first impressions of people. If I see a drunk man stumbling in the street, my instinct would be to want to protect my wife. But then, I might not know that he’s on medication and that’s why he’s stumbling, that was my first instinct, impression, or judgement. But, then I am judging a book by it’s cover. That’s human. What I mean is, that it’s my 2nd, 3rd and 4th reactions that matter. That’s when you have time to make an informed choice.
Why did you choose this role?
I didn’t choose it, it chose me. It’s the same thing as a good book.
I heard the words and they spoke to me.
In this movie, the only thing in common that I have, with the viewer, is the first speech, in the movie. By which I mean, that when I read the script for the first time, I felt the same way the viewer feels when they watch the movie for the first time, and hear the speech that my character makes. My reaction to reading the script will be the same, or as spontaneous, as the viewers.
With this film, the producers didn’t want to make it. My wife and I funded it.
I don’t make money to watch it grow piles high. I use it to invest in movies, or to help a friend, or invest in technology.
Do you feel a social responsibility, being in a position of power, to choose roles based on their moral message?
I make movies for men. Most people assume I make movies for women. But, I make movies for men. I think about how a man would identify with my role, being as I identify with how a man would feel in a fight, or a certain scene. I feel an obligation to make movies with what men would relate to, in my character.
There are some movies that wouldn’t be made anymore, like Dances With Wolves, you have to be really driven to make movies like that.
But when choosing a script, the scripts have to match my Sensibilities.
I’ve got ten Italian minutes with the busy actor. I wonder what he thinks about Rome?
What are you favourite Roman monuments or moments?
The Colosseum. Our sporting arenas, are built by the best architects, but and then they rip them down 40 years later. Whereas that’s still there 2’000 years later.
I stare @ the Colosseum, like I stare at the Ocean. The whole story plays out in my mind. I imagine what it would have been like in the dark, with candle light. My wife has Italian blood, with family a few hours outside of Rome and I love it. The way the Roman streets bend. In the States, we have grid style streets. I love the way people eat in the sun, and walk through the historical centre with their children. Rome stands, it is in itself almost environmentalist, because it’s preserved itself, for future generations.I believe in fishes, trees and the animals. It’s about trying to leave things for other people. If people pollute the Tiber, that means that for future generations, and my grandchildren can’t enjoy sitting by the river and fishing, but Rome has maintained history.
Do you speak Italian?
I speak cowboy.
What are you doing to celebrate turning 60?
Things haven’t changed for me. I don’t want a big party. I don’t need the energy of a party. I would rather have 4 or 5 friends over for dinner.
What’s your next project?
I’m making a Western movie, that’s about 10 hours long.
So, that explains why he was contemplating his beard.
Don’t miss this film, it’s a must.
Published in Italy Magazine – November 2014