Because Heat Vision is reporting that the aforementioned Kevin Costner has been cast in Quentin Tarantino’s newest genre riff, the spaghetti western Django Unchained. I doubt I’m the first to notice but, all kidding aside, Costner’s best roles all seem to involve either a bat and glove combo or a six shooter. Bull Durham, Dances with Wolves, Field of Dreams, Silverado, For the Love of the Game, and Open Range are all either the best movies the actor has appeared in or his best roles to-date, with the exception being Wyatt Earp (unless you have more endurance than I do). Even in The Upside of Anger he played a retired ballplayer-turned-sports-radio-guy. For some reason, Costner works wonders in those two genres — maybe because his low key thereness matches well to the longshots of sweeping desert vistas and crowded baseball stadiums. It’s that quality specifically that makes him a good choice to play Pa Kent in Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel.
I’m sure Tarantino himself must have noticed this trend, because it’s unlikely Costner’s generally wooden, deadpan delivery would have passed a normal cattle call. Then again, Jackie Brown showcased Robert Forster’s best performance, and QT is known for reigniting a career’s dwindling flame (for at least one movie, anyway). Then again again, Costner has never played a literal slave driver who trains his charges to battle each other gladiator-style before. The sort of character John Travolta might play as a literal mustache twirling evildoer. But that kind of role, especially when up against showier performers like Leonardo DiCaprio (his slave owner boss), Jamie Foxx (the titular Django), Christoph Waltz (a German bounty hunter), and Samuel L. Jackson (the film’s apparent Uncle Tom), could be a stern, stabilizing force of which the others could bounce off. A man who does what he does because he has to, not because he thinks it’s right.
Or, because Unchained is billed as spaghetti western Costner could be at his Prince of Thieves hammiest, in order to make a cartoon out of such a possibly deplorable villain. If so, hopefully Tarantino could craft it into something akin to Kurt Russel’s Stunt Man Mike in Deathproof, the tension turning device that entertains as much as it sets the plot in motion. If that’s the case, I’ll be looking forward to Foxx’s Django and Waltz’s bounty hunter to smash Costner’s face in but good. With an Ennio Morricone-esque score behind the splatters of blood, of course.
Rob Payne also writes the independent comic The Unstoppable Force, co-hosts the internet radio show We’re Not Fanboys, and can is willing to argue the merits of Kevin Costner’s non-cowboy/baseball roles on the Twitter @RobOfWar.