Movie star Kevin Costner is bringing his penchant for history to the small screen by starring as Devil Anse Hatfield in the three-part, six-hour television miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys,” airing at 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday on History.
“Hatfields & McCoys” conveys the tale of the true legendary American family feud that lasted for decades in post-Civil War era Kentucky and West Virginia.
Bill Paxton, Tom Berenger, Mare Winningham, Powers Boothe, Matt Barr and Lindsay Pulsipher are also in the cast.
Costner, 57, is certainly no stranger to the Western genre either. He won an Oscar for directing the 1990 Academy Award-winning Best Picture “Dances With Wolves.” He also has been a recipient of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum's Western Heritage Awards for the same film and 2003's “Open Range.” Costner directed, starred in and was a producer on both movies.
In addition to those films, Costner has headlined such cinematic hits as “Bull Durham,” “The Untouchables” and “Field of Dreams.”
Born in Compton, Calif., Costner's grandparents moved from Oklahoma to California during the Dust Bowl era.
Costner is also a musician and his band, Kevin Costner & Modern West, will be playing at Concho's Lucky Star Casino at 8 p.m. July 19. Kevin Costner & Modern West previously performed in Oklahoma City in 2009.
During a recent media conference call, Costner discussed “Hatfields & McCoys” as well as its contribution to his music:
“I like American history,” Costner said. “And, so, I was aware of the participants and a lot of it — obviously became more aware of it as I read this script, and then doing my own research.”
Costner said he got involved in this project much like he has his other films. He was drawn into the story by the writing.
“Great stories don't often make great movies. I mean, ... it's a crafted art form,” he said.
“I felt the authenticity of the writing. I was surprised by the violence. I was interested in what was really going on culturally at that point and being able to kind of immerse myself in that era.”
Always enthralled by history
Costner has always been interested in history, as demonstrated in this story of how enthralled he was as a child watching a classic movie.
“When I saw ‘How the West Was Won' as a little boy, I remember that probably put me on my way to long movies, because I didn't even leave during the intermission. I just sat there. I was 7 years old and listened to the overture and waited for the second half of it to play,” Costner said.
“And, I remember seeing Jimmy Stewart in a canoe, and I thought I loved the idea of how the only possessions he had were in that boat. And so I went ahead and, even though I was born in the inner city, Compton, Calif., I went ahead and built three canoes myself and ended up going down the same rivers that Lewis and Clark went down,” Costner said. “So I guess history's pretty thrilling for me.”
In portraying Devil Anse Hatfield in the miniseries, clothing and props were essential elements for the actor. “The hat was a very big deal. I remember when I finally did put the hat on for the first time, I was in my room, and I noticed that there was this great light coming in, and I saw my shadow. So, I actually saw myself put the hat on, the one that I liked,” Costner said.
“There is a lot to the clothes. There is a lot to the pipe. There is a lot to the beard. ... That certainly lodges you in place and time.”
Costner said the hat played an important part in defining his character's role: He wore a workingman's hat when he was logging and another hat when he was going to town.
“The clothes are as much a part of how a movie's perceived as anything, if you really ask me.”
Costner reunited with director Kevin Reynolds on “Hatfields & McCoys.” The pair's previous projects include “Fandango,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and “Waterworld.”
He requested that Reynolds direct the miniseries.
“I think he has a very unusual eye,” Costner said of Reynolds. “I think he's an artist, and we had a really good document and a script. And sometimes there's people that just really know how to shoot, they're just in love with their camera, but the story isn't as powerful as all their camera moves.
“We had a really great document, a really great script, and I can't emphasize that enough, 'cause that's why I chose to do this. But then if you combine it with a very good cinematic style, it can be an exciting offering. And I thought that Kevin would give us that.”
When asked which of his past roles were closest to his heart, Costner revealed a couple that aren't necessarily the most
“I've had the pleasure of playing in some movies that people continue to talk about. So that's always really fun,” Costner said.
“If I have to boil it down like that, I really liked playing Billy Chapel in ‘For Love of the Game.' And I loved playing Charley in ‘Open Range.'
The character of Devil Anse Hatfield also influenced Costner quite a bit.
“This part, though, I was so surprised at how deep I was actually able to go on this thing, that I began to write a lot of music about it, about the era and the time and this famous blood feud that occurred there,” Costner said.
Wrote miniseries' theme song
He was so moved by the story, Costner's group actually wrote the theme song for the miniseries.
“We then wrote a concept album that will come out about a week before the movie comes out. It's called ‘Famous for Killing Each Other,' and it's all about this story. And it's really, I think, a very cool record and one that I hope you listen to.
“I'm as proud of it as anything I've ever done.”
Costner said he plans to play a couple of the album's cuts when his group appears in Oklahoma. For more information about the July 19 Kevin Costner & Modern West performance at Concho's Lucky Star Casino, call 262-7612 or visit www.luckystar
The album “Famous for Killing Each Other” is available now on iTunes and at Amazon.com.