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Tracking Down Kevin Costner Isn’t Easy…

13 July 21 words: Ashley Carter
illustrations: Kate Sharp

What would a celebration of thirty years since the release of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves be without the inclusion of the main man himself: Kevin Costner? Well, still quite good, we hope. But you know… we tried…

Graphic of a man sat at a desk

It’s 1am and I’m looking at the wholly intimidating IMDb page for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I know it takes an army to make an independent feature film, so I shouldn’t be surprised at the masses of names I see rolling past my tired eyes for this Hollywood blockbuster. The idea is simple – I want to try and interview as many people from the cast and crew of the film as possible. Actors, camera crew, the director, the sound team, casting, make-up, props, the editor. Everyone. I know it seems like a bit of a scatter-gun approach, but this is LeftLion. We’re not blessed with resources, and I have a deadline of around two weeks to try and pull this together. But it’ll all be worth it if I can get Costner. 

There are long shots, longer shots, there’s Derby getting promoted next season, and then there are the odds of us getting hold of Kevin Costner for this magazine. From experience, actors are very rarely thrilled by the prospect of talking to anyone, especially some rag-tag independent magazine in little old Nottingham. Then there’s the fact that he won’t even be discussing a new film, but one that came out three decades ago. But the one thing that’s giving me hope is previous success. In 2019, I set my mind to getting an interview with Emilio Estevez when he came to Notts. It took countless emails, phone calls, a white lie or two and a lot of hiding in a cupboard, but I got there. Maybe there’s a chance. Maybe. 

After sending out close to a hundred emails to the various agents, assistants, Facebook pages and PR firms of pretty much everyone in the cast and crew, I turn my attention to the prize. It’s now 4am and I’ve got about a dozen leads, and I start by sending an initial email explaining the idea to each of them. Now comes the wait.

The emails have fallen on deaf ears and it’s time to start hitting the phones. Considering this is literally my job, you’d be hard pushed to find someone more poorly equipped to talk on the phone

Brian Blessed’s PA gets back to me with a soft yes. Nick Brimble – Little John himself – and casting director, the lovely Ilene Starger, are confirmed. We’re gaining momentum and, as a result, a bit of hope. We even get closer to Morgan Freeman than you’d ever believe. But nothing on the KC front as of yet. Another day passes, and we’ve got Costner’s stunt-double Simon Crane and Peter Boyle, the film’s Oscar-nominated editor. We’re in discussions with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, but it eventually fizzles out. Then, much to the relief of my ears, if not my inner-journalist, Blessed drops out. Still nothing from Camp Costner. 

That night, after one too many cocktails, I start to draft up a list of questions for the man, should the impossible happen and I do get ten minutes of his time. He gets a hard time, does Kevin. At the time Prince of Thieves came out he was the biggest name in Hollywood. He was the charismatic, rugged-yet-sensitive sort of actor that made him equally appealing to men and women. Something of a throwback to the Golden Era of Hollywood, as comfortable in a Western as he was in a crime thriller. My Mum had a signed photo of him from The Untouchables that she’d bought off eBay for £20. We argued when I told her that it was probably fake. 

Realistically, he probably doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Waterworld and The Postman are nowhere near as bad as the Internet would have you believe, and he’s made some genuinely cracking movies in his career: 3000 Miles to Graceland, Thirteen Days, Dances With Wolves. His performance as Devil Anse Hatfield in Hatfields & McCoys (directed by Prince of Thieves director and long-term collaborator Kevin Reynolds) was superb.

The entire process teaches me two things: one, that I need to look for a new career and two, there’s a very fine line between journalist and stalker

The emails have fallen on deaf ears and it’s time to start hitting the phones. Considering this is literally my job, you’d be hard pushed to find someone more poorly equipped to talk on the phone. I mumble, stutter and go blank at the first sign of pressure. It takes me fifteen minutes to figure out what time it is in LA. Turns out it's 3am. Probably worth waiting for a bit. 

When the time comes, I ring the agency that (according to IMDb Pro at least) represents Costner. All I have is a general phone number, which I dutifully call. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Taxi Driver, but the call went about as well as Travis Bickle’s post-porn-date chat with Betsy. “LeftWHO?” I hear asked time and again. “LeftLion miss. Ma’am. Madam. I’m looking for a representative for Kevin Costner. We’re an independent magazine in Nottingham that’s writing an article celebra…” I manage to spit out before being asked, in that pitch-perfect American politeness that can’t help but feel insulting to British ears, to please hold. Hold I do, before another voice answers. “LeftWHO?” The now-familiar question bounces off my tabs. I’m getting nowhere here. I’m starting to doubt whether LeftLion even exists. Is this all some anxiety dream? Jesus, these people would eat me alive in person. 

I Britishly apologise for having bothered them, after pitifully explaining my hair-brained scheme to no fewer than three equally befuddled staff members. I call his PR company, his legal representatives, the person who runs his merchandise site, his own production company and get pretty much the same response every time - just a sense of genuine bafflement that I was even attempting to get hold of Kevin bloody Costner. One woman, with the best intentions in the world I’m sure, talks to me like she’s just found me wandering through a supermarket looking for my Mum, “Yes I’m sure you’re a big fan of Mr. Costner. He’s a very popular actor, who has been in lots of movies. If you would like to write a fan letter, I’m sure he’d love to read it…” For the first time in this dopey odyssey, it’s me that tries to wrap the call up early. 

Though not successful, the entire process teaches me two things: one, that I need to look for a new career and two, there’s a very fine line between journalist and stalker. It’s really only the successful interview at the end of the hunt that separates the two and, seeing as I failed, you’d have to put me in the latter category.

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