I have such a soft spot for Kevin Costner. We go way back to 1987 and one of my earliest TV press junkets to New York. The film was The Untouchables. Paramount had talked up this handsome six footer as the being the Next Big Thing and it turns out they were spot on. His future was incredibly brilliant.
Two big hints that spring day – he held his ground against Sean Connery in the mobster drama and when he turned up for interviews, all the heads in the room turned as one to gaze upon his magnificence, buoyed by his intelligence and passion.
He didn’t disappoint in the interviews. He opened by telling me he didn’t like my outfit – kind of a Princess Diana look and that I was now in the big city. Someone had told him it was my first junket. It was a great moment for me as I was deeply impressed and entertained by his honesty and that he bothered to say anything at all that was personal.
We met many times over the next decades and his forthright breezy personality was always inspiring. The junket for Dances with Wolves, which he produced, a passion project, took place in Washington DC and the party that night was attended by political hotshots including a couple of Kennedys. Costner had hired Canadian Aboriginal actors including Tantoo Cardinal and Graham Greene and it was a blast all being together on the Mall. The film won 7 Oscars and he was made an honorary tribe member.
There were dozens of other junkets, but not since 2008 for Swing Vote. He’s shown his versatility in films and television series and is still making passion projects. He funded Black and White, a drama about a black matriarch and Costner, an alcoholic widower battling for custody of their bi-racial granddaughter. He was committed to making sure the film got off the ground with its message of tolerance, inclusion and communication.
Now comes McFarland, an inspirational drama about a coach being punished for anger issues, who is sent to a “problem” school. The students are immigrant field workers, who will likely remain there. He astounded at the talent wasted in what will be lives spent picking fruit so he starts a running team. The boys develop and win local, regional and the state races and go on to futures they would never have expected. True story. McFarland is a real place and running is its life-saving passion. Costner plays the coach Jim White.
Costner’s true blue persona shines through. He’s not the star he was in the Wolves days but he has endured and thrived in Hollywood thanks to his integrity and authenticity. I’m a fan for all time