I’ve been ev­ery­thing I’ve wanted to be, in life and on the big screen

Kevin Cost­ner may be one of Hol­ly­wood’s big­gest stars but that’s not to say he doesn’t have his own in­se­cu­ri­ties. He tells GEMMA DUNN of his strive to re­main rel­e­vant in the age of the celebrity selfie

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KEVIN COST­NER is mus­ing over the con­cept of fan selfies. And fresh from the red car­pet of his lat­est film pre­miere – Amer­i­can crime drama The High­way­men – it seems the A-list ac­tor isn’t short of re­quests.

“It’s a prob­lem be­cause I never think I look good in these pic­tures, and I have to take them all the time!” quips the Hol­ly­wood vet­eran.

“Some­times the cam­era doesn’t work and I have to stand there for three or four min­utes,” he con­tin­ues, ris­ing from his chair to show off his tried-and-tested pose. “Then there’s a fight be­tween the hus­band and the wife be­cause ‘He doesn’t know what he’s do­ing’...”

For a star as sought af­ter as Kevin (“I can’t tell you how many peo­ple go, ‘You know, my mum re­ally likes you”’) the ado­ra­tion is justly part and par­cel of his celebrity.

That’s not to say it’s ex­pected, how­ever.

“You still never feel like you’re what peo­ple want; I have my own in­se­cu­ri­ties,” he ex­plains.

“There was a mo­ment in time when I wasn’t fa­mous and no one would no­tice any­thing,” he says. “So, I’m aware of why those pic­tures oc­cur – it’s be­cause of the movies.

“And it’s be­cause I love movies so much that I will stop and try to do that, be­cause I un­der­stand the con­nec­tion peo­ple have had for a long, long time.”

He’s not wrong. Since ris­ing to promi­nence with his por­trayal of agent Eliot Ness in The Un­touch­ables over three decades ago, Kevin has gone on to win le­gions of fans. From the days of his Os­car-win­ning Dances With Wolves to cult hit, The Body­guard; and more re­cently Hid­den Fig­ures and be­yond.

Prov­ing his prow­ess ex­tends to the small screen, too, he took home a Primetime Emmy Award for his lead in the minis­eries Hat­fields & McCoys in 2012; and since 2018, has starred as ranch pa­tri­arch John Dut­ton in re­turn­ing se­ries, Yel­low­stone.

But now the Cal­i­for­nia na­tive is turn­ing his at­ten­tion to a dif­fer­ent plat­form en­tirely – Net­flix.

Based on true events, The High­way­men – di­rected by John Lee Han­cock – fol­lows the un­told story of two Texas rangers, Frank Hamer (Kevin) and Maney Gault (Woody Har­rel­son), who are drawn out of re­tire­ment in a last-ditch ef­fort to hunt down Bon­nie and Clyde.

Cel­e­brated for their hero­ism – de­spite scep­ti­cism from the state and fed­eral agents, it’s an ac­count that paints a very dif­fer­ent pic­ture of Hamer to the one seen in the

1967 bio­graph­i­cal, Kevin notes.

“It glam­ourised [Bon­nie and Clyde] in a way,” he be­gins. “It was their pain; they were some­how the vic­tims of cops who were an­gry and had vendet­tas. And we didn’t make this movie to say, ‘That movie is wrong’. That movie was great. But they were re­ally wrong about Frank Hamer,” he says.

“His rep­u­ta­tion af­ter the film was mur­der and his fam­ily has lived

You still never feel like you’re what peo­ple want; I have my own in­se­cu­ri­ties.

Ac­tor Kevin Cost­ner

with that for the last 60 years, think­ing, ‘Our fa­ther was heroic; he was a leg­endary law­man. How dare you use Hol­ly­wood to make him a buf­foon, a clown, just so that Bon­nie and Clyde can look bet­ter!’ So our mis­sion was just to take this movie [and say], ‘What kind of men were they?”’ How does he re­late to Hamer? “Well I haven’t re­tired yet... but I re­late to him as, some­times you just feel like you’re the per­son for the job,” says Kevin with a smile. “I was given this script 10 years ago and I didn’t want to do it,” he re­veals. “And 10 years later I felt like, I could – but I also felt like I wasn’t re­ally him still.

“I thought I bet­ter put on a bunch of weight, I bet­ter run re­ally funny, I bet­ter not be able to get over that wall,” he lists. “I needed to em­brace that part of where he was at in his life.”

He fol­lows: “As an ac­tor, I al­ways feel my first job is to tell the story – and so if Frank needs to be fat a lit­tle bit, he’s gotta be fat a lit­tle bit.

“You have to play it; you can’t wink at it, you gotta just em­brace it.”

Next Kevin, 64, who also has di­rec­tor, pro­ducer, and mu­si­cian cred­its un­der his belt, will re­turn to the big screen for a fea­ture film. But while he’s keep­ing sch­tum on the finer de­tails, he will say he’s ex­cited by the prospect of a strong script.

“Lit­er­acy has propped up my ca­reer – not just my nat­u­ral charm!” he jokes. “I’ve de­pended on the words of writ­ers and the ones I write my­self, on story and how it’s done.”

“But I know my category is shrink­ing,” he warns. “So if I take care of my­self, I’m in re­ally good shape.”

He adds: “As long as I stay rel­e­vant, I can play 15 years younger, if I have to. But I can play 15 years older right now, if I have to, be­cause I’ve worked at how to do that.

“I am pas­sion­ate about mak­ing movies – and if I’m not pas­sion­ate, then I shouldn’t be in the category any­way!”

The fa­ther of seven takes the same self-care ap­proach when it comes to fam­ily. “I have three kids I play with – and I play hard,” Kevin says, in ref­er­ence to his three youngest children, whom he shares with his sec­ond wife, for­mer model Chris­tine Baum­gart­ner.

“And I have a beau­ti­ful wife and I don’t want her to look any­where else. I want to be some­thing for her,” he main­tains. “I want to stay in­ter­ested in life.”

Af­ter all, his body of work will be the legacy he leaves be­hind. “My kids will be able to look back and there will be a time when I looked young and strong and un­touch­able,” Kevin says poignantly.

“I’ve had a sec­ond fam­ily and so they know me the way they know me now, so they’ll look back and maybe they can smile at it.”

“But I’ve got­ten to be al­most ev­ery­thing I wanted to be, ei­ther in real life or in make believe, in the movies,” he fin­ishes. “I know how lucky I’ve been, and now I just want to make more cow­boy movies!”

The High­way­men is avail­able to watch on Net­flix now.

Kevin Cost­ner plays Texas ranger Frank Hamer in The High­way­men

Kevin Cost­ner knows he needs to adapt in the modern age of movies Bank rob­bers Bon­nie Parker and Clyde Bar­row who died on Wed­nes­day, May 23, 1934, at the hands of Texas of­fi­cers in­clud­ing Frank Hamer

Kevin Cost­ner with co-star Woody Har­rel­son

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