Few actors can lay claim to headlining four consecutive decades' worth of box-office hits, but that's just what you'll see if you peruse Kevin Costner's canon of work.
It's the variety of roles, and affects they've had on moviegoers he meets, however, that most satisfies the Oscar-winning actor-director.
"That's probably the best thing for me at this point in my career, is that nobody drills down on a certain movie," Costner told Yahoo Movies. "I'm always surprised what comes out of their mouth, and that makes me feel good that it could be anything."
Don't look now, but the 59-year-old California native is in the midst of a career resurgence. He drew raves (and earned an Emmy and Golden Globe) for the TV miniseries "Hatfield & McCoys," appeared in one of 2013's biggest blockbusters, "Man of Steel," just helped reboot the "Jack Ryan" series, and will soon be seen in the buzzed-about NFL drama "Draft Day."
This week, he hits theaters in a star vehicle all his own, the Parisian-set action thriller "3 Days to Kill." Costner plays a terminally ill CIA vet looking to reconnect with his abandoned wife and daughter (Connie Nielsen and Hailee Steinfeld) while wreaking havoc against bad guys all over the City of Lights.
Costner took a break from promoting "3 Days" to share stories from the sets of his many and most beloved roles, which you can watch in the video above.
Here are some of the highlights:
"Fandango" (1985): Costner says his first collaboration with writer-director Kevin Reynolds (who'd go on to direct him in "Robin Hood," "Waterworld," and "Hatfield & McCoys") hadn't yet had their "gentle giant," the character of Dorman, the night before production was set to start. Reynolds was so stressed that he couldn't sleep and went into a 7-Eleven to get a Coke, "and there was this big guy in front of him who just had cokes, and cupcakes, and all kinds of s--t." Reynolds looked at the 6-foot, 7-inch Chuck Bush and asked, "Hey, you want to be in a movie?"
"The Untouchables" (1987): Costner could moonlight as an Oscar pundit. He told co-star Sean Connery — the "biggest star I ever worked with" — during the filming of this mob drama that the Scot was going to win the Academy Award for his portrayal of Irish beat cop Jim Malone. On April 11, 1988, Connery took home the award for Best Supporting Actor, the only Oscar he'd be nominated for over his long career.
"Bull Durham" (1988): Rumor's had it that Costner made the young actor playing the bat boy on the set of Ron Shelton's sports classic (that every studio rejected twice, the actor says) cry when he reportedly ad-libbed the line "Shut up" in response to the kid's plea to "get a hit, Crush." Costner won't confirm or deny that fun fact: "I don't know that I made him cry, I was convincing with my line. We weren't making 'The Natural' here … If he cried then maybe Ron didn’t' tell him what I was supposed to say."
"Field of Dreams" (1989): "That was not the best career advice, to make two baseball movies in a row when baseball was thought to be poison [at the box office]," Costner admits. He says building a whole movie around a line like "You wanna have a catch?" would prove it even a trickier sell. But we all know how this one worked out in the end, and as Costner beams, "Men really weep — they don't cry — they weep, about things gone unsaid in your life to people you love, and 'Field of Dreams' hit that." As for if this tearjerker is the movie most quoted back to Costner: "It's the most quoted movie in Iowa for politicians, I'll tell you what," he laughs.
"Dances With Wolves" (1990): Costner had to know he was onto something special from the get-go with "Wolves," which would ultimately win Best Picture and garner him the Best Director trophy at the Oscars… right? In actuality a very nervous Costner, behind the camera for the first time, messed up the production's very first shot. "And I really debated whether I should say that, or just shoot it wrong, so I didn't look bad." Costner made the right call and made the crew do a 180. It wasn't until a few days later, when he first saw the dailies, that he knew he was onto something: "I went, 'This looks like a movie.' I was desperately hoping that it would. I don't know, I had never done one."
Oh yeah, and that buffalo with the arrows stuck in him that Costner stalks? The amatuer animal actor was borrowed from none other than rock icon Neil Young. "He was really flipped out — he's with buffalo he doesn't want to be with, and one guy in particular, me, keeps chasing him. So if he wasn't paranoid before he got there he was paranoid after." Costner says they corralled Young's buffalo with a carton of Oreos. "I don't know, that's what Neil said. He'll come for these."
"Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" (1991): Costner's take on the legendary outlaw has caught its fair share of flack over the years (including a Razzie "win" for the actor), but people tend to forget it was a massive hit, raking in $165 million domestically and earning nearly $400 million worldwide. It's also, as Costner points out, a fan favorite: "It's surprising how many people will say to me that that's their favorite movie … We made a really fun movie that people still talk about."
"The Bodyguard" (1992): The actor says it took Hollywood 15 years to produce this box office smash, from the time Lawrence Kasdan's script was first optioned. As for his co-star, the late, great Whitney Houston, Costner discusses the back-and-forth that surrounding her casting in the film, which marked the pop star's acting debut. "I was told that it was a moment that she was actually declining in terms of her popularity. I just thought she was the perfect choice." There also appeared to be some behind-the-scenes uncertainty to casting a woman of color in the role. "Everybody alerted me to the fact that she was black, which I knew," he says. "The fact that she was black, that didn't matter to me."
"For the Love of the Game" (1999): Eleven years after sweating it out in the minors in "Bull Durham," Costner graduated to the majors in the final installment of his unofficial baseball trilogy. Costner, like the retiring pitcher he was portraying, was no spring chicken at 44, which made the fact that he could throw a 84-mph fastball behind the scenes one of his proudest moments.
"Open Range" (2003): "My dad really loved John Wayne, and he said, 'You can do that,'" recalls Costner about his decision to direct and star in this Western sleeper," which was dedicated to Costner's parents as well as late actor Michael Jeter, who made his final appearance in the film. It's clear that Costner's experience led to his participation in "Hatfield & McCoys": "I have personally taken an interest in the American Western, and I will do more of those."
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