Kevin Costner on Directing For First Time in 20 Years With ‘Horizon’ 5

Despite having won an Oscar for best director in 1991, Kevin Costner‘s Horizon: An American SagaChapter 1 is just the fourth film that the star has directed, and the first time he’s stepped behind the camera in more than 20 years.

Costner landed an Academy Award for his directorial debut Dances with Wolves, which he followed with 1997’s The Postman and 2003’s Open Range; since then he’s largely focused on his acting and producing projects, but said he knew he needed to come back to the director’s chair for Horizon.

“Sometimes you wonder if you can still ride the bike, but what I knew was I believed so much in my story that I really was the one that needed to direct this,” Costner told The Hollywood Reporter at the film’s Los Angeles premiere on Monday. “I didn’t want to come away not bringing everything home that I thought the movie had a chance to deliver.”

He added, “There’s people that are more talented than myself, I’m sure that [there are] directors [who] really understand the camera, but I believe in story and I believe so much in it that for me I think that comes shining through my movies. I don’t really blow anybody away with my technical understanding of things, I just film the moments and try to put my actors in spots where they can succeed, and I try to shoot them against backgrounds that are undeniable.”

Horizon is a planned four-part film series, with part two set to be released in August and parts three and four currently in the works. Costner leads an ensemble cast in a story that chronicles a 15-year span of pre-and post-Civil War expansion and settlement of the American west.

Asked why he and western genre work so well together — particularly after his successful run on Yellowstone — the star mused, “Maybe I believe in the behavior that happened a million times there and to find an authentic spin on it each time, not just rely on a cliche but dig down a little deeper and put circumstance in front of action.”

Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Luke Wilson, Jena Malone, Michael Rooker and Jamie Campbell Bower all co-star in the project and weighed in on what Costner was like as a director, with Worthington saying, “He’s got a wealth of cinematic knowledge, he’s worked with some of the greats, and I just tried to listen and take in everything he said and try to learn a little from him.”

Wilson, noting the role was “different than anything I’d ever done,” added, “Growing up, I’d seen him as this Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen type of guy, and then to be directed by him I found out just how thoughtful and how sensitive he is about what you’re trying to do and what he’d like for you to do.”

And Bower, who admitted to fanning out a bit over the star — “I was born in 1988, Kevin Costner the movie star is everything to me. My family WhatsApp group was blowing up” — said he was inspired by Costner’s passion for the project, acknowledging, “This is a huge part of his life and he loves this. I’d follow that anywhere.”

Costner has famously been developing the project for years, putting up $38 million of his own money to make the films when no studio would sign on and finance. Producer Tanner Beard told THR of the four-film saga that “there’s nothing like this, especially not exclusive to theaters,” adding that Costner is “probably the bravest person in Hollywood, without question.”

Horizon: An American SagaChapter 1 hits theaters on Friday.

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