Kevin Costner leans forward in a conspiratorial posture,and levels his dark blue eyes with laser-like intensity, to impart some career advice.
“Go with what you believe in — tell that story,” he says in a hushed voice. “Subjects and themes that often make people uncomfortable often are the most rewarding.”
The Academy Award-winning actor-director was referring to Black or White, a drama about interracial relations he stars in, and which he promoted, at the Napa Valley Film Festival last weekend. In it, he plays a widower tangled in a custody battle for his granddaughter, who is black.
“No one in Hollywood wanted to make this,” said Costner, who led financing for the film’s $9 million budget. “Stories about race and inequality make people nervous, it scares them. But they need to be told. I mean, what kind of world do we live in?”
So, when Costner was informed of inequity in Silicon Valley and an expanding economic divide between the tech wealthy and those around them, he immediately saw a parallel. “In different ways, we need to tell these stories – you as a writer, and me as a filmmaker,” he said. “Stay with that story.”
Costner’s interest in technology is genuine: He has invested millions in Water Planet Engineering, a clean-water project based in Culver City, Calif., that underscores his belief in big, bold projects that can be critically acclaimed (Dances With Wolves, JFK) or panned (Waterworld, The Postman).
“What’s life without tackling real issues?” he said.
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