Kevin Costner: Pursuing The Dream

Sexy, straight-on and ambitious, Kevin Costner is a grownup hero with brains

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Love the movie and damn all those who don't as soulless swine. Hate it and call it Field of Corn. But appreciate the care and assurance with which it was made. And grant this, that in a time when movies and politicians win approval by dodging the big awful issues, Field of Dreams engineers a head-on collision with things that matter: the desperate competition between fathers and sons, the need for '60s idealism in the me-first '80s, the desire for reconciliation beyond the grave. In a dialogue between Mann and Ray as they approach the ball park, Field of Dreams provides its own pan and rave. "Unbelievable!" exclaims Mann, and Ray replies, "It's more than that. It's perfect."

Costner defers credit for the film's success to Robinson: "He's the star of Field of Dreams." But there are moments the star is proud to claim. "When Ray is throwing to Shoeless Joe, he gets so excited that he glances back to the house to see if his wife is looking. When Ray is walking toward his dad, picking at his hand, and, realizing that his dad is doing the same thing, he quickly puts his hands down. And his run to the mound isn't a completely athletic run. It's a little funny. There's some English on it. Those things are mine and nobody else's."

In Bull Durham, Crash says, more or less, "Never mess with a winning streak." Costner is too restless to take that advice. If moviegoers are embracing him only as a sanctified jock, maybe they should brace themselves for Revenge, scheduled for release early next year. This violent drama may upend -- or just end -- Costner's current image as a Goody Two-Cleats. "Revenge is shocking, vulgar, a bit of a fall from grace," Costner says. "But I have no problem playing a man who isn't likable, as long as I understand him. Revenge is strong medicine; you won't come out feeling good. That's O.K. too. You don't have to have a snow cone at the end of every movie. Right now, I don't know how this one will do. I don't make broad claims on the playground, and I don't do it with movies. That's beyond my control. I just go in believing in the story."

Now he is believing in Dances with Wolves. "You know how Americans setting foot in another country sometimes feel totally at home?" he asks. "Well, for me, a country road has always felt really right. The notion of a man on a horse, carrying all his possessions on his back, totally self-sufficient, is really romantic to me. When I was 18," the actor boasts, "I split L.A. and built a canoe, which I paddled down the rivers that Lewis and Clark navigated while they were making their way to the Pacific. So it's not surprising to me that I'm making a movie on this theme: about America and Americans. Directing isn't an exercise in control, not a growing-up or a breaking-out phase. Of course I'm anxious. I'm not sure I'll do a good job. It's not that I'm worried about the people around me. I just want to make sure that my camera tells the story."

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