Full disclosure: I'm not the biggest fan of sports movies.
In fact, I'm not a big fan of sports in general, except maybe baseball. But put Kevin Costner in a movie about one of America's many pastimes and my story changes. After all, this is the guy who starred in two of the best baseball movies of all time: "Bull Durham" and "Field of Dreams." I even liked the third part of his unofficial "baseball trilogy," "For the Love of the Game."
Now, the actor is tackling (pun intended) football in "Draft Day" as the general manager of the NFL's Cleveland Browns, the man in the unenviable position of making the team's first-round draft pick. He's also dealing with a girlfriend (Jennifer Garner) who's got some big news, a coach (Denis Leary) who wants his job, and an owner (Frank Langella) who wants his hide. Hell, even his mother (Ellen Burstyn) kicks him around.
But he's Kevin Costner. He can take it. This is a man who's starred in and directed classics ("Dances with Wolves") and flops ("The Postman") and knows the ups and downs of a career as much as anyone -- just like sports stars.
Moviefone: There are sports movies, and then there are Kevin Costner sports movies. Why is that?
Kevin Costner: Well, I've probably seen some of the sports movies that you maybe haven't liked that came my way, almost probably all of them. I'm not dying to do a sports movie, but when I feel the literacy of them that I think translates into an emotional experience, I don't back away from them. But it's very hard to create that architecture in a sports movie.
So yes, I've done more than most people, but I've also done 'em over the arc of my career, you know what I mean? I did "Bull Durham" and "Field of Dreams" back to back because I simply couldn't turn my back on how good they were... So a movie set against the backdrop of sports has to stand the test of literature. And if it's sports IQ is really low then it doesn't qualify either.
The sports IQ of this movie seems pretty high.
I thought so. We dialed back the Xs and Os a little bit because, who cares? It's a date movie. It's a movie you can take your wife, your sweetheart and you can laugh at. If it was really your life you wouldn't be laughing, but we laugh at the wife wanting to have that conversation on this day of all days. It's like, "Wow, really?" So I think, right away, there's an honesty about it that we kind of get. Women are impeccable in their ability to address the biggest issue of their life on the biggest day of yours.
Which sports do you follow?
It's easiest for me to watch football. They play once a week and now three times a week and there's 16 games that you can dial into and I watch all of them. I don't watch every game every weekend. I pick three or four that I want to watch and that's what I watch. So I'm pretty religious about football, have been since the '60s, so I've watched it all.
I love baseball, but I can't follow 100 plus games, I have to wait for the playoffs. And it's the same with basketball. There are so many good players in basketball but for me the playoffs don't mean anything because like eight teams in each division make it in each league, so that's too many. That's just too many. So the playoffs stretch out for a month and a half, maybe two months. I'm not interested in that. I love when it gets down to the four teams and the two that play that get into the finals. I love that.
Did you play football in college?
No. Somebody asked me to consider because I can throw pretty well. But no, I didn't play football in college.
If given the chance to meet one sports figure, athlete or otherwise, who would it be?
I don't know -- your idea of people once you meet them can be a high level of disappointment. I like [Joe] Namath; he's just a real character on the landscape. I would've loved to have met [Babe] Ruth. I would've loved to watch [Ty] Cobb and [Lou] Gehrig play. I don't know why, I just would have. I'd love to see that. I'd loved to have seen Mantle before his knee operations because I always heard about him. I was a West Coast guy, so I like Willie Mays, and there was always that little bit of a competition. I didn't see Mantle until he was really hurting a lot.
Any plans to get behind the camera again soon?
I'd like to.
There's that Western trilogy you want to make, right?
Yeah. I have a lot of material that I have assembled that I work on when I'm not working. I'm always kind of trying to prep and do things. I continue to try to have material. I don't like to get caught waiting. It's not like people are jumping up and down to make another Western, but that's what I'd like to do. I have three or four movies I'd like to direct, and they're all very different.
You're going on tour with your band, Modern West, next month. You've been doing that for a while now...
What does playing in a band give you that acting doesn't?
I'm with my friends, playing live on a stage. I'm a performer at heart, if you boil me down, and so I was into music before I was into movies. I just like playing original music. I like testing the songs that you have. And I like the interaction with the crowd; that's a pretty honest thing... There's something really honest about playing live. The playing field is pretty level. And, for me, the songs win out.
"Draft Day" hits theaters April 11.
Related: 17 Things You (Probably) Don't Know About Kevin Costner
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