Kevin Costner stars as William Harper in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and what some may not know is that he was once offered the part back in the day. Now, the roles have switched as the man who was mentored by Sean Connery in The Untouchables is now the mentor to Chris Pine as Jack Ryan.
“The mentor role is always, what can you offer a younger man or a younger woman with your level of experience? That’s what I was. If you read it on paper -- that’s the role that’s meant for me,” Costner said. As seen in this Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit clip, Costner isn’t the usual mentor who sits at a desk in Washington, D.C. barking orders.
“What I liked about it was that I wasn’t just a person at a desk on a phone going, ‘Get the hell out of there. What the hell are you doing? Well, you need to do it faster.’ I could take the gloves off, so to speak, and become involved and bring a physical presence and team up with him at the right moment. So I thought that was unusual for the mentor role.”
It was the same kind of mentor-mentee role that Costner had with Connery in The Untouchables and the actor cites him as his greatest personal guide. “He was a leading man. And I remember a big scene with De Niro and everybody was all talking. He told me, [in his best Connery impression] ‘Mr. Ness.’ I said, ‘What?’ And he goes, ‘Sit down.’ And I said, ‘What -- sit down right now?’ And he goes, ‘Yes, it’s gonna be a long day,’” Costner said and laughed.
“He didn’t talk about artsy fartsy stuff, he talked about practical (expletive), like, ‘It’s gonna be a long day. Sit down. And you and I are gonna sit here and we’re gonna watch and when it’s our turn we’ll be ready.’ So, what better advice could one man give another?”
Costner has had quite the career and it appears to be hitting another gear with Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Draft Day due in a few weeks and earlier last year, he had Man of Steel hitting theaters. After being a dad for a time, Costner was ready to get back in action, literally! “I had three little kids the last five years, my wife and I, and I slowed down to get them started. And I’ve had enough of that (expletive) minivan,” Costner said and laughed.
“I thought, ‘I have to go back to killing somebody for real or in action movies, because this is too tough!' After I did Hatfields & McCoys and got on a horse again, I started to feel my love of acting [again]. But longevity for me is not a check, it’s a love. I’ve loved making movies. I have been fortunate, blessed, loved, and it’s added up to 30 years.”
And to say he’s excited for the world to see what was teased in the Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit trailer is a gross understatement. The world is ready, he said, for the Tom Clancy character to tackle a new century with new enemies and all the while, have it feel real. That’s the reason the fictional hero has been so popular for three decades.
“Our movies are realer than the James Bond situation where a guy parachutes in and that kind of thing. That’s another kind of spy movie,” Costner said. “Our job is to entertain and find the rhythms that do that with the language of the day. We don’t try to reinvent the wheel, because spies are trying not to get caught, trying to stop bad things, and you have to reflect that.”
At the end of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Costner’s character refers to Ryan as a “Boy Scout,” which is a fascinating thing, because many of the actor’s most iconic roles could have been described the same way. Has he come full circle? Not quite, Costner said it has more to do with choices smart directors make in filling roles with the right person at the right time and cites The Untouchables and Connery again.
“The smarter directors do this, they’ll take a supporting role and they’ll put a leading man in it, because they know how to inhabit the screen. Nowhere was it better than when Sean Connery came in and played the little Irish street cop, and you realized how formidable he was,” Costner said.
“Brian (De Palma, director) could have easily cast any character actor to bring up that Irish rogue or whatever that you would. But he said, ‘No, we want Sean Connery to play this. What happens is he knows how to hold onto the screen. So, I have a feeling that that might have been swirling around in his [Kenneth Branagh, director] head. It’s what he wanted to do with William Harper. It was easy to support Chris.”