There are certain actors that you kind of grow up admiring. An actor that you can remember watching for years on end. Each film meaning something different and recalling some memory from your mind. Kevin Costner is that for me. I remember watching my mom and other family watching him in field of dreams. As my love for movies grew so did my love for Kevin Costner. Who remember him as the iconic Robin Hood? How about playing the lost soldier trying to find his way in Dances With Wolves. Kevin is back with role after role right now and in McFarland USA he plays a cross country coach in a small California town transforms a team of athletes into championship contenders.
I attended the McFarland USA press junket and Kevin sat down for a quick interview. Excepts below:
Q: So what was the most rewarding part about making this movie?
KC: I’ve had such a journey in the business. I wanted direction like probably everybody about what are you gonna do in your life. When I found movies, to me it was like recess. I wasn’t very good in school but when that bell went and I could go out and play and make up my own life and do whatever I wanted to do, that’s what I kind of wanted in life. Now that may sound like Peter Pan but that’s what I wanted.
I wanted to be absolutely interested in everything that I did. That began to happen for me. So as I conduct my career going forward, it’s obviously more than just movies. Movies are a small part of my life. They’re an important part. They’re the tip of the iceberg that the rest of the world sees, but they’re a very small part of my life. The rewarding part of something about McFarland is that, you know, I don’t plan my life so much to the point that I miss something like McFarland, a little story about Latinos and a community that I actually participated against in high school.
I played against McFarland in baseball. I lived in Visalia, up in the central valley so the important thing for me was that I was able to participate in this movie and highlight a culture that we see all the time Driving down our highways, looking off to the left and right, and somehow we just keep driving, right? We’re not supposed to text and we’re not supposed to stop our car to look, but that is how the food gets to us.
Movies have been a joy for me. So one that would highlight this little town and there’s little McFarland’s everywhere in America, I like that. It’s a very important part of my filmography to be a part of this movie
Q: So what kind of training did you have to do for the film?
KC: Training? I hate running and so that’s why I enjoyed being the coach. One time I ran with them, and as you see in the movie, I quit. I played the coach part really well. I sat down and had a Coca Cola. I didn’t have to train for this really. It was pretty spelled out for me in the script, what I would do, which was, it was a sport I was unfamiliar with.
It was one I would try to have to educate myself with. It was one I would have to coach without facilities, that probably the schools we would be competing against, had. So I had to try to be resourceful, and the script gave me those opportunities to be that. There was not really any training involved for me. There was just being heavily involved in these young men’s lives, you know?
There was so much more about the movie than the finish line. The finish line’s for them. You can give young people something to shoot for and what we realize watching this movie is that when we do, they can somehow exceed beyond their own expectations. So we realize that’s actually in front of all our children. If you really want to get specific about it, it’s actually in front of us, too. Wherever you’re at in your life there is a chance to do something else in your life. We’re not done.
We’re not done at all. We’re here, you’re doing your job but what you want to be in your life is still in front of you. The same things that we offer our children, we shouldn’t be so ignorant to not offer up to ourselves.
Q: What was it like working with the boys? Mr. White in real life is like a father figure to them. Were you kind of like a father figure to the boys on set?
KC: I didn’t try to be. I think that, you know, you understand that I’m in that position where that could happen, so it’s better to let that happen than to just go in and, and be Yoda and be able to, you know, have all this stuff that you can tell them. It’s more authentic when they actually come to you and you’re not just spouting off. Nothing was off limits when they would come to me to talk to me. They began to understand that and I think hopefully appreciate that.
It was important for me, for them to be good. It was important for me to let them know that they needed to be even more prepared for Nicky, that’s who gave them a big shot in their life. They owe it to be as prepared as they can, every day. I would talk to them a lot about professionalism, about, you know, what you do, because there’s plenty of fun, right?
Suddenly the bell rang for them too, right? It’s recess. They’re out playing too, and they’re getting paid for it. You can get carried away with that and forget that you have a job. Then the more comfortable they began, they wanted to know about all the girls I kissed. Of course I told them if you want to keep kissing girls, the best way to do that is to not talk about it.
Q: What was the most emotional part of the movie for you?
KC: The most emotional part? The movie was filled with a lot, so to drill down on a single moment, but one of the highlights of the movie is where it’s supposed to be. It’s before the last race. They have, gone from not knowing anything about what was possible to sensing that everything was suddenly possible, and what happened? They found themselves in the last race, and they saw the buses drive up that were bigger than their bus, shinier.
They saw kids come out of the buses in uniforms that were better. The kids were bigger. So all of a sudden they started to shrink back. They started to go back in their minds to McFarland. They suddenly weren’t gonna be able to maybe compete at this level. That’s where men, older men and, and older woman will always be at their most useful, to look at them and see the fear in somebody’s eyes, the doubt in somebody’s eyes and to say no, you belong here.
When you make someone feel like they belong they start to feel like giants. And what happened? They won. They continued to win, and it was all because somebody said it’s possible if you’re willing to work at it. So an emotional thing for me always is, I hope somebody talks to my sons or daughters that way should I not be around, about what’s possible.
McFARLAND, USA (opening in theatres on 2/20)
***Disclosure: I attended #McFarlandUSAEvent My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney All opinions are 100% mine. ***