The patriarchs of the Hatfield and McCoy families famously fought over a pig - and the squabble became a history-making drama at the beginning of what was to become the United States.
But Costner hopes TV viewers who tune in to the project, in which he stars opposite Bill Paxton, will realise the series is so much more than a story about a family argument among bearded, simple folk.
He tells Parade magazine, "As we get further and further removed from history, people start to think these stories weren't true - that the Hatfields and McCoys were a comic. But no, these were people who came out of the Civil War, which was the root of so many problems. So, to give authenticity and perspective to that story was interesting to me.
"These are very easy people to make fun of. They have beards; they're ultra-religious; they talk funny. But these people and their descendants were judges and senators. It's like what started the feud - one of the reasons was a pig trial. It's easy for us to laugh at that, right? But a pig could feed a family for 30 days.
"And today people will go to court if their view in Malibu (Florida) is obstructed."