Kevin talks about his new film, directing another western, and the possibility of The Bodyguard 2
Kevin Costner's latest effort Mr. Brooks is hands down the best film of the summer. I don't even need to see anything else to know that's true. I can just tell by all those overpriced previews that interrupt my online surfing. Nothing is going to be able to top this one. The script is just a wonderful mix of character and plot. It weaves together a number of different thematic elements. They manage to build upon each other with every wicked twist and turn. It will, honest to God, make you happy that you just blew twenty dollars at the multiplex. And it will make you fall in love with a serial killer.
Mr. Brooks tells the story of a successful businessman, a generous philanthropist, a loving husband and father, a true pillar of the community. Everyone thinks he is the perfect man. What they don't know is that he has an addiction. What is that addiction, you might ask? Just a little bad habit called: Murder! Mr. Brooks spends his free time killing people. It's kind of like his hobby. His appetite for destruction is insatiable. But don't worry ladies, he always arranges the bodies in a very romantic, artistic pose.
Earlier this evening, Kevin Costner called me to talk about the film and what went into it. He was very gracious with his time, and I would like to apologize for my cell phone connection hitting a weak spot during the conversation.
Without further ado, here is Kevin Costner...
Kevin Costner: Hi, Paulington.
Kevin Costner: Paul, you are really breaking up bad, here. There's a real warble. You got all faded. I don't want you to lose any time.
Here, I've moved out back.
Kevin Costner: I can hear you pretty good like that.
With all these big movies coming out, how does it feel to have the one true surprise hit of the summer on your hands?
Kevin Costner (Laughs) Man, I would hope that would get out in the ether. I really would, because I'm worried about where it sits. I don't worry about what the movie is, in terms of how the movie is judged in its success. That's not something that has guided me in my career. You know, I'm just glad the movie is what it's supposed to be.
There is a rumor that this was always meant to be a franchise for you. Did you plan on doing sequels from the very start?
Kevin Costner: Yeah. That's how it was presented to me. But before you buy into that, I said to the guy, "Bullshit. Tell me what it is because I never believed that Lucas had nine Star Wars movies in mind." Maybe he did. I don't know. But, I just said, "Look, if what you're telling me is the truth, then explain to me how it goes." And when he did, I saw the logic of it. Seeing the movie, you can see that Atwood (Demi Moore's character) and I never connect in the movie. So, it was written that way. But I wanted it to stand on its own, because I didn't want it to have to do anything other than be what it was. If we are able to get some traction amidst all these tsunamis and waves, I would defiantly do another one. I like the character so much, and I know how it ends. Its proper and its shocking. But I don't know that it would be right for us to talk about it right now. Because it might give away the ending.
Well, I'll put a spoiler warning in there for you.
Kevin Costner: Well, the sequel is not a rumor. That is true. It covers some ground.
As an actor, how do you balance the act of being a serial killer while still being a likable character?
Kevin Costner: Well, that can't happen. Not historically, in cinema. I had no desire to play a serial killer. I really didn't. I didn't need to prove that I could act, or that this was a departure. It wasn't a reinvention. I don't think in those terms. I can't think like that. I wouldn't be who I am if I was driven by those kinds of considerations. I read it and thought, "Wow. What an interesting window into a subject." It was really entertaining. And funny. And it never backed away from me being a killer. It created a level of understanding. I think everything is better in life when you have a level of understanding in movies.
When you were developing this character, did you ever daydream about killing people?
Kevin Costner: No, I didn't. I have to give the screenplay a lot of credit. Even though it is coming out in the summer, I hope people remember this screenplay. And William Hurt later in the year. It is a pretty extraordinary screenplay to be honest. To tackle the subject in such a way that has never been done. From my tackling the character, I felt that the work was done for me. And I just needed to really embrace that. I needed to back away from it and not prove that I'm a good guy. I just had to play it as it was written.
How was your off-screen relationship with William Hurt. Did he ever take you aside and try to understand what you were doing as a character? Try to understand your psyche?
Kevin Costner: Well, we both had a history from the Big Chill. We are both big rehearsal guys. We're both people who believe in our script, otherwise we don't sign up for a movie. We're both furiously protective of the writing. In terms of working together, we like to rehearse. So, we had a lot of trust going back and forth. We really trusted each other.
When you are talking to William Hurt's character, you can see him in mirrors and the glass reflection coming from your office windows. Why was that important for an imaginary character?
Kevin Costner: I gotcha. I think, you know, there's a set text in your life. If you have an imaginary friend, you check in with it. So, somebody might ask you a question, and there are four or five beats before you decide to answer it. Who knows where your mind goes. In this instance, Mr. Brooke's was staying connected with Marshall. He is my alter ego. He is my conscience. So I check into it simply for survival instincts.
Now, you have a daughter of your own, right?
Kevin Costner: Yes.
If she came to you, and you found out that she had done something as horrible as chopped up one of her friends in her dorm room...Maybe not something that drastic, but how would you personally react to that as a parent?
Kevin Costner: Well, you saw my reaction. That wasn't written that way. I just collapsed in that scene. I am really proud of that scene. And I am proud of the acting in the movie. It was my own point of view. I brought myself into that particular scene, and I collapsed. He weeps. He weeps for his daughter. He's angry for his daughter, and he slowly puts all the pieces back together. You see that Marshall (William Hurt) really comes to his aid. The moment really killed him.
This was Dane Cook's first dramatic role. I'm wondering how it was working with him and if you gave him any pointers?
Kevin Costner: What I did was encourage Dane. When I saw him doing something that I thought was really good, I would encourage him to do it again. If the camera wasn't on, and he did it. I would tell him to do it again. I wanted him to be good in the movie. I think he is really fantastic in it. I just wanted to encourage him. I'm in the habit of letting everyone steal scenes around me. It's like, I try to have that happen. It's in the interest of the movie for the people around me to be good. So I have always embraced that.
This next question is coming from my own point of view. I see that with films like Open Range, and The Guardian, and now this, that you are appealing to a wider male audience as opposed to some of your films in the past that played to more of a female audience. Was that a cautious decision on your part, to bring in a wider male audience with these last couple of films?
Kevin Costner: No. Not really. I think the female parts have been really great. I think that Annette's (Benning) part in Open Range was great. It wasn't huge, but it was big enough that you could get an actress of her caliber to do it. The Guardian was a bit of a boy's movie. There was a little bit more of a relationship in there that got cut out. That disappointed me. But, no. I do make movies for guys. But I make sure that woman can enjoy them. I first and foremost have made movies for men that come from my generation. Selfishly, I have made sure that the women's roles have been very good. Look at Sean Young in No Way Out. Renee Russo in Tin Cup. And Sarandon in Bull Durham. I have always made sure to include the women. There is no shift at all. It just is what it is. I think Marg Helgenberg is quite good. It's just more about being a killer.
Just lately, after Open Range and now this, I'm seriously looking forward to the next Kevin Costner movie. Maybe it has something to do with me being older now.
Kevin Costner: (Laughs) Unfortunately for you, the next one is going to be a comedy and it's going to be Capra-esque. I really like to bounce into genres. I don't like to calculate genres. I don't try to figure them out. I just like to move through the genres. The next one I direct will be a western.
So, you are going to direct another Western?
Kevin Costner: Yeah, that's my hope. But I'm financing this little swing vote, this little comedy that we're going to do next. It's no great shakes. I just think it's very poignant in certain ways. It's a comedy.
Are you directing that one as well?
Kevin Costner: No, I'm financing it. And I'm producing it. Then after that I will do my western. Then I will produce that. Hopefully I will finance it. Look, westerns aren't necessarily in vogue, but I don't really give a shit. People really like them. And I do too.
Everyone that I have talked too that saw Open Range loved it. I really thought it was amazing. I'm looking forward to you directing another western.
Kevin Costner: Well, that's what's surprising about this town. The movie has done close to two hundred million dollars now. Not that that's what drives me. But I kind of had to look at that and scratch my head, "Huh?" But I've always been the odd man out, so what the fuck?
Is Robert Duvall going to have any involvement in the next one?
Kevin Costner: No, its just another western. It's an original western.
With summer coming up, what do you like to do on your vacation time?
Kevin Costner: I'll probably be up in Aspen fishing and playing music. That's really what I like to do. Just make sure my friends are around.
Do you think you'll actually venture out to the theater this summer and see Mr. Brooks with an audience?
Kevin Costner: Probably not. I don't want to wreck the experience for anybody. I really do enjoy this movie a lot. I enjoy the dialogue and the sense of humor that it has. It's the earmark of all the movies I have done. I always try to put a sense of humor in there. Whether it's Open Range, or anything that I do.
I have one last question for you. There's been a rumor for a while that you are going to do another Bodyguard film.
Kevin Costner: I had a really good script at one point. Actually, it wasn't really good, it was really great. It was a really great 45 pages. What happened was that the other pages didn't live up to it. That's when I was talking to the Princess about doing it. There's a really good movie there. But I haven't figured out whom to do it with. But no, no one is talking to me about it. I could make a second one. There's a really good, thrilling movie there but it's not on the front burner for anyone.
Great, I really appreciate you talking to me today.
Kevin Costner: Thanks, Paul.
Mr. Brooks opens on June 1st, 2007. Go see it or he will kill you. Seriously.