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May 26, 2012
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Costner talks 'Hatfields & McCoys'
By Bill Harris, QMI Agency


Still of Kevin Costner in 'Hatfields & McCoys'.

There's no feuding with the truth about acting, according to Kevin Costner.

"It's more fun being on a horse than it is being a lawyer in a lawyer movie -- it just is," said Costner, one of the stars of the new three-part mini-series Hatfields & McCoys, which debuts Monday on History Television.

"It's more fun to try to get the bad guy than try to convince a jury. Unless you get the speech in JFK, I love that."

Costner, whose 1990 film Dances With Wolves won the Academy Award for best picture, returns to the Civil War era and its aftermath for his role as "Devil Anse" Hatfield in Hatfield & McCoys, which airs in two-hour instalments on three consecutive Mondays.

Joining Costner are Bill Paxton as blood rival Randall McCoy and Tom Berenger as Anse's uncle Jim Vance.

Before watching Hatfields & McCoys, I must admit, I knew only two things about those infamous families: 1) It was a violent hillbilly feud; 2) The situation was mined for cartoon comedy in a couple of episodes of The Flintstones, when Fred found himself at odds with a hillbilly clan called the Hatrocks.

"We look at this period and start to think of them as people with funny hats and funny beards and gosh, they had a feud that lasted into the next century over a pig," Costner said. "But pettiness has existed in all centuries.

"The Civil War threw a veil over this entire story, with the anger and how deep feelings ran. And people used it as an excuse for violence, let's make no mistake, there's always that."

Once the bad blood started flowing between West Virginia's Hatfields and Kentucky's McCoys, it didn't help that they basically were trapped together, both physically and by circumstance.

"McCoy had 13 children, (Hatfield) had 13 children," Costner said. "They're going to grow up, get married, have kids, and suddenly these little valleys that barely could sustain one family could not sustain a family of 70, 80 people.

"So you had a lot of young men who didn't find their way out of those valleys into the big cities. They stayed, no economic upside, drank, you've got drinking, you've got guns, you have this old Civil War from which you can concoct a feud that you had no part in, and suddenly you have shootouts."

Simply calling the police, or getting a lawyer, or filing a complaint with some government agency that might intervene, weren't options for these isolated families in those merciless times.

In 2012, if we truly were left to our own devices to settle disputes, would we automatically behave any better than the bitter souls remembered in Hatfields & McCoys?

Are you sure?

"We know that people fight over views," Costner said. "Somebody raises a fence, raises a hedge, takes a tree down, and somebody who's our neighbour, suddenly we're in litigation for the next 15 years."

Wait a minute ... now this is sounding like one of those less-fun lawyer movies.

Back up on the horse, Kevin.

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