With 'Django Unchained,' will 2012 be the Year of Costner?

Bull-Durham-baseball

Image Credit: Everett Collection

There’s a story in The Right Stuff where author Tom Wolfe explains why all airline pilots sound like they’re from West Virginia. Turns out a generation of pilots so idolized test pilot Chuck Yeager that they consciously or subconsciously copied everything about him, including his backwoods drawl, and then passed it on to the flyboys they subsequently trained. Well, it’s sort of the same thing with baseball players and Kevin Costner. Walk into any Major League clubhouse or high school dugout, and the lingo, the chatter — and the profanity — can be traced back to one man: Crash Davis. Costner’s fading minor-league catcher was handsome, clever, and worldly, and every kid with dreams of The Show couldn’t help but idolize him and, ultimately, sound like him. More than 20 years after Bull Durham, every ballplayer knows that strikeouts are fascist, and everyone knows without question the one taboo word you can’t say to an umpire. Costner simply was Crash Davis, and though he went on to star in bigger, more successful films, it’s the role that made him a Hall of Famer.

For true Costner fans, then, 2012 is shaping up to be an banner year after more than a decade of misfires and understated performances. (Despite winning supporting roles in Thirteen Days and The Upside of Anger, Costner hasn’t starred in a No. 1 opening film since 1999’s Message in a Bottle.) Not only has he been cast as Superman’s Earthly father, Jonathan Kent, in Zack Snyder’s reboot, but Quentin Tarantino has tabbed him to play one of the slave-driving villains in Django Unchained. According to Deadline, Costner will play Ace Woody, the wicked plantation underboss who trains slaves to fight to the death. Costner has played bad before, in 2007’s Mr. Brooks, but it’s exciting to imagine his roguish charm in Tarantino’s twisted tale of antebellum Southern slavery and prostitution.

Costner’s two high-profile roles couldn’t be more different, and I’ll admit to being drawn more to his dark side at this point in his career. After three decades in the business, he’s liberated now to play the roles that Crash Davis and Ray Kinsella wouldn’t allow him to. His character, Ace, is bound to be hated. But in a delicious way, I’m sure, that both shocks us and reminds us how much we loved Kevin Costner in the first place.

Is 2012 shaping up to be the Year of Costner? Might his role in Django Unchained actually be one to earn him his second acting Oscar nomination? Is Crash Davis the greatest Costner character, or are you partial to John Dunbar, or Eliot Ness, or Robin Hood?

Read more:
Kevin Costner to star in History miniseries
Kevin Costner on why he won’t come to TV — except for maybe a cartoon
Quote of the Day: ‘Bull Durham’ edition

Comments (14 total) Add your comment
  • Bubba

    Oscar nomination number two please!!!

    • Pittner

      I’m kind of surprised that he’s only been nominated for acting once before considering how successful he was in the late 80s and early 90s.

  • Flip

    With both films opening around Christmas 2012, it’s more likely Twenty-13 will be the year of Costner’s comeback.

  • Dee Jones

    Who is gonna see this film? It might be too early to say anything negative about this film? but blacks are not going to rushing out to see this and whites are going to feel too guilty to see this. Blacks are not going to see a film about slavery, no matter who directing it.

    • Ron

      Why should one feel guilty? No one felt guilty seeing a film about Nazi Germany in Tarantino’s previous film.

      • Sina

        I’m Black and I’m going to see it. There were lots of movies in the 70’s about slaves surviving horrific things to overcome at the end. This movie sounds like the movie Mandiago from the 70’s.

    • Henry

      As I white person, I will see this because there is no point pretending slavery didnt happen, and the film is actually from the perspective of an African American slave, who triumphs over evil. I don’t really understand your point.

    • Pittner

      Slavery has happened all over the world and has been a part of the world’s history and unfortunately there will always be some form of slavery occurring somewhere. That shouldn’t prevent people from seeing a movie about it, even if it is in Tarantino’s heightened reality.

    • Nigel Winterburn

      It’s Tarantino. That’s reason enough to check it out.

  • lil Sebastian

    When I read DiCaprio was gonna play the villian, I was thinking that would’ve been a cool role for Costner. Tarantino loves him, and he loves comebacks. This is great news. I also thought the Foxx role would have been a good comeback for Eddie Murphy, but oh well.

  • Laney

    I personally love Kevin as the hero in everything. However, he does prove he can be the bad guy: A Perfect World, 3000 Miles To Graceland, Mr. Brooks…so if it helps people sit up and notice what an awesome actor he truly is, so be it. I love him in comedy. He is so funny in Tin Cup and Fandango. Looking forward to being Super Daddy too. Heck, I enjoy everything he makes. He’s the MAN!

    • Sina

      He wasn’t a bad guy in A Perfect World. He saved that boy from being molested. When the daddy in that family started treating that boy horrible he went crazy for that boy. He wasn’t bad, just a victim of his circumstances.

  • O Rly?

    “More than 20 years after Bull Durham, every ballplayer knows that strikeouts are fascist”

    The average mlb player was 4 when Bull Durham came out, and almost half of all minor leaguers are now foreign born. There is even a significant minority that come from an actual fascist foreign country (Venezuela, sort of fascist at least). So yeah, I call BS.

  • viviennewestwood

    Thanks for interesting blog post. You guys are always provide information that it makes it impossible not to want to buy your next product ;I caní»t wait to see what you guys come up with based on all your research and data that you gather.

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