“Clearly Swing Vote isn't a public service announcement, but I think it might be better than that because it doesn't preach,” says Kevin Costner of his new comedy. If anything, he hopes the “comedic ride” will lead fans to ask the fundamental question, “Who am I going to be moving forward.”
Hopefully not like his character Bud, a beer swigging single dad who can’t keep a job. A charismatic loser who turns out to be the one person in America who can decide the election between President Andrew Boone (Kelsey Grammer) and his opponent Donald Greenleaf (Dennis Hopper). With Bud’s apathetic attitude toward politics, it will take his precocious daughter Molly (Madeline Carroll) to help steer him in the right direction.
Hollywood.com caught up with Costner to talk politics, the new film and more. And to read the review, click here.
Hollywood.com: Do you think it's a positive or negative that this movie is coming out in an election year?
Kevin Costner: I've had to debate that because I thought perhaps we'd be dealing with voter fatigue by now and maybe people just going, 'Enough already. I want to just see another superhero. Get it up there as quick as you can.' But I think I can't see it as a negative now. I think it might be able to help us.
HW: What's your real life opinion on today's politicians? These characters in the movie change their minds so much.
KC: Look, it's a complicated thing. What you start with is a human behavior. So while we comedically show that they're willing to flip flop there's not any of us that don't really understand that if two men or women, whomever, are competing for the biggest job in the free world and it coming down to a single vote – it's not unrealistic to think that they would in their deepest darkest recesses be willing to flip flop. It's not unrealistic to think that those who are guiding them would say, 'Look, just do this. Okay? Just do it. We'll fix it tomorrow. We'll do the wrong thing today in order to do the right thing tomorrow.' It's a slippery slope.
HW: When did you first really feel like your vote counted?
KC: Well, I think a lot of us feel that it doesn't and I can't take myself out of that club. When you do the math you think, 'I don't matter.' But that's when we're thinking selfishly. That's when we're thinking, 'Yeah, I guess mathematically I don't really matter.' But when you start to think of yourself as a part of the whole, as a part of the fabric of America that's when you realize that your vote does matter.
HW: Bud is kind of a grump when it comes to his daughter. Is it easy to switch that off when you’re not filming?
KC: Yeah, I absolutely switched off because we wanted to get it right and if we didn't go rough enough we talked about that…We took two weeks to kind of come to that place where we could be really natural with each other, where I could, so to speak, touch her bottom as her dad might or touch the top of her head, kiss the top of her head, pull her hair and for her to be able to slug me or wake up or raise her voice to me. At first, we had to find our own trust between each other because we're strangers at first, but we bring our technique. Madeline brought a wonderful amount of technique to her acting.
HW: How much input did you have when it came to Bud’s speech at the end of the film?
KC: The whole movie was just a good collaboration…When we got to that last speech I thought that a lot was riding on it. I felt that it was a little bit too rah rah. But it was talking about we all can be this and we can all be that, and I thought, 'No. Bud has to look deeper into his life and realize that maybe he's the enemy, that he's the enemy of democracy, complacency. So we started to take away the words 'we' and Bud started to look inward at himself. We wanted to make sure that he never kind of out stepped his own IQ, his own vocabulary.
HW: Madeline Carroll is just starting out in this business. Could you relate to her at all?
KC: We have one thing that's really in common. I remember when my first big break happened to me. It was on The Big Chill and it's this kind of thing where you feel like the wheels are in motion and it's a gigantic secret because there's no one like this around, that movie is going to take a year to come out and in the instance of The Big Chill for me I actually never appeared. I was obviously cut out. But I knew at that moment that it had happened for me, and I think that Madeline had been doing smaller parts, some commercials or doing whatever she was doing, but this role was a really significant role. I think one of the reasons that Madeline's as good as she is, is because she has an awareness of what's in front of her. She knew that she had an opportunity to score in this movie, and you did.
HW: You were wearing multiple hats on this film including star and producer. Now, we here you were practicing with your band until 2 a.m. every night.
KC: [Laughs] It's a pretty cool life, huh. I think you forgot that we financed it too…This movie wasn't going to be made because it was determined that it didn't have an upside economically in the foreign markets. I wasn't going to argue. Our standing in the world community is such, it was argued that no one wants to see a movie about an American election because a lot of people aren't very happy with us. But I had the same thing thrown at me on Bull Durham. It didn't have an upside. Field of Dreams didn't have an upside. But I don't think that's reason enough to not make a movie. So I did wear a lot of hats…Performing [with my band] is something that fills me up and when I'm being creative I feel like I'm at my best.
HW: What are you playing these days?
KC: I'm trained on the piano classically. I grew up in the church and so my grandma played the piano. My mom and her sister were in the choir. I was a 9 year old wise man every Christmas, but I continued on doing music. I took up the guitar so I play guitar and we write music. The band plays original tunes and that's what makes it fun for me.
HW: How did you get your band involved with the movie?
KC: That was a no brainer for me because all the guys would work for scale. Cheap. No one would give you any lip about how big their trailer was. So I suddenly had the band right where I wanted them, doing whatever I wanted, but they're my friends so finding myself sometimes on location for three months it's nice to have friends around. They were only around for a week or so. They all wanted love scenes. They all wanted to be doing stuff. I just told them no [laughs]…We were always The Half Nelsons [in the script]. Some of us were always incarcerated, but the actual playing of a song – we wrote that song for the movie.
Swing Vote opens in theaters on Aug. 1, 2008
Considering how close the last two presidential elections were including the 2000 race between Gore and Bush that came down to hanging chads and the Supreme Court it was probably inevitable that filmmakers would find a credible way to focus on a campaign that somehow comes down to just ONE vote. If you can accept that premise you’ll have a great time with Swing Vote which manages to be so funny and ultimately inspiring you may just want to stand up and cheer. The seemingly incredible premise revolves around Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner) a beer-bellied perpetual loser and divorced dad who finds himself at the epicenter of a major presidential campaign--thanks to his super smart and socially aware 12 year-old daughter Molly (Madeline Carroll) who fed up with Dad’s disinterest forges his name and sneaks in to cast a vote on her own. When there’s an electrical malfunction the ballot is nullified. But with the entire election coming down to a one-vote difference authorities trace the vote to the clueless Bud who is told he will have to recast his ballot in 10 days an act that will elect the next president. As both campaigns and the media take over the town Bud Johnson quickly learns the truth of the old adage: Every vote counts. Costner’s hilarious pitch-perfect performance is one of his best. The actor is well-suited to playing this dumb but ultimately good-hearted good ‘ol boy who could tell you the name of every Nascar driver but draws a blank when asked who he supports for president. His interactions with both candidates as they shill for his vote are priceless--managing to give the far-fetched proceedings an ounce of credibility and eventual Capra-esque dignity. In films like Field of Dreams Bull Durham and the more recent The Guardian Costner evokes the American spirit as well as any actor and even playing a goofball like Johnson still summons the decency buried somewhere in all of us. He’s terrific. And so is Carroll as the precocious Molly along with a first-rate supporting cast led by Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper as the opposing candidates who seem willing to sell their soul for Bud’s favor. Grammer--as incumbent right wing President Andrew Boone--particularly oozes slick political slime while Hopper--as the liberal environmentally PC Democratic contender--flip flops with the best of them. Also standing out are Nathan Lane as Hopper’s beleaguered campaign manager and Stanley Tucci as his ethically challenged opposite number on the GOP side. You’ll have lots of fun spotting numerous real-life TV pundits brought in to comment on the fictional race (Larry King James Carville Bill Maher and even Mary Hart among them) With only one other film under his belt (2005’s straight-to-video “Never Was”) Joshua Michael Stern shows great potential here effortlessly mining the many laughs from his own screenplay (co-written with Jason Richman) and showing a sharp eye for political satire on the highest levels. He confidently guides his imposing cast with the style of a much more seasoned director and gets the most out of veteran actors. We even dare compare his achievement here to the politically tinged films of great Frank Capra (Mr. Smith Goes To Washington Mr. Deeds Goes To Town) which seem to share some of the core values of Swing Vote. Stern shows he has an innate sense of the absurd taking an off-the-wall idea and setting it right in the heart of reality. Use of all the TV personalities gives an air of authenticity but ultimately it’s Stern’s balancing act between high hilarity and a strong message about the core values of the American system that makes Swing Vote the winner it is. If you want to cast your vote for smart witty and irreverent filmmaking this is the movie you’ve been waiting for.
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Singer Jill Scott won three awards at Tuesday night's Seventh Annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, including Entertainer of the Year, AP reports. Destiny's Child took home an award for best single for their hit "Survivor" while 3LW captured Album of the Year with 3LW. Singer Aaliyah, who was killed in a plane crash on Saturday, was nominated for rhythm and blues, soul or rap song of the year but lost to Yolanda Adams. The Lena Horne Award for outstanding career achievement went to Patti LaBelle.
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PageSix.com has apparently obtained a copy of a Sex and the City script entitled "I Heart NY" set to air in February. The script reveals that Sarah Jessica Parker's character Carrie breaks up with her fiancé Aidan. In another story line, Cynthia Nixon's character Miranda fakes going into labor to stop Carrie from having sex with Mr. Big (Christopher Noth). The show is on hiatus until January, when HBO will air the season's final six episodes.
Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant will be starring in a Castle Rock/Warner Bros. romantic comedy due out in December 2002, Variety reports. Bullock will reportedly play a neurotic attorney with Grant as her wealthy boss. The film will be produced by Bullock's Fortis Films and directed by Marc Lawrence.
Michael Jackson will be presiding over the opening of Nasdaq trading on Thursday, Reuters reports. Media coverage is being restricted to giant video screens outside of the Nasdaq in New York. Jackson, who went on a private tour of the New York Stock Exchanges in January, is currently in New York for a concert honoring his 30 years as a solo performer.
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British tabloids are ridiculing Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham's plans to create a new image for herself. Posh was pictured on the cover of British papers Tuesday sporting a ring in her lower lip, causing legions of avid Posh fans to do the same. By Wednesday, however, the ring was gone. According to Reuters, fans were furious after discovering that the piercing was a clip-on. "She is a real cow," one fan was quoted as saying after she spent $43 on a piercing. Posh apparently had no idea the ring would cause such a fuss.
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Actor Edward James Olmos was sentenced Friday to spend 20 days behind bars after trespassing on U.S. Navy land on the Puerto Rican Island of Vieques during protests against Navy war games, Reuters reports. The Miami Vice actor was arrested on the Naval bombing range April 28 with environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and New York labor leader Dennis Riviera, who both received 30-day sentences on the same charges. They completed their sentence on Aug. 1. "We need to do this. Puerto Ricans all over the world needs to understand this problem. We need to support Vieques," Olmos said.
'N Sync, Destiny's Child and Britney Spears were among the winners at the Teen Choice Awards, held Sunday at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles. Ben Affleck, who is currently in treatment for alcohol abuse, came out to receive two awards, including favorite actor, The Associated Press reports. The show will air Aug. 20 on Fox.
The Charlatans UK's keyboardist Tony Rogers has been diagnosed with testicular cancer. According to BBC News, Rogers has undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy making his chances of recovery very high, the band said on their official Web site.
Russian director Stanislav Rostotsky, whose films revolve around life in the Soviet Union from World War II until the reforms of the late 1980s and early 1990s, has died of a heart attack at 79, BBC News reports.
Garth Hudson, founding member of The Band, has filed for bankruptcy for the third time. The musician, 64, faces foreclosure on his Hudson Valley home in New York, AP reports.
The struggle among SAG and AFTRA ended Friday, with members of both actors unions giving the new film-TV deal a 97 percent endorsement, Reuters reports.
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Mexican singer Gloria Tevi has turned down a $40,000 offer by imprisoned Brazilian drug lord Luiz Fernando da Costa has offered to pay $40,000 to Mexican singer Gloria exclusive musical performance. Tevi has been in jail for more than a year as she waits to be transferred to Mexico, where she faces charges of sexual abuse.
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