Interview: Kevin Costner, Anthony Mackie & Director Mike Binder Ponder ‘Black or White’

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Mike Binder,
Writer/Director Mike Binder of ‘Black or White’
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for Mike, how does being a actor help you to be a better director?

Binder: I think you know a lot more about how an actor spends his day, regarding the process of a performance. I sometimes think that directors don’t understand that, especially when you call somebody in at 5pm, for example, and don’t get to him until midnight. That messes with his head. Another example is when an actor completes a scene and the director says nothing. I think that also messes with the actor’s head. I just think it’s a good experience for a director to do some acting.

I grew up with [director] Sam Raimi, and had him act in my second film. He told me afterward that his experience on my set affected the way he interacted with actors on his sets from then on. So I think that every director should show up at least once and act in a film. Kevin, your remarkable Best Picture/Best Director achievement for “Dance with Wolves” still is a legend in Oscar history. Does that achievement mean more to you now or do you just see it as part of your journey as an actor and filmmaker?

Costner: The planets have to really line up for the Oscar thing to happen. They did, and I know I have a greater appreciation now that they did line up. I feel like I’ve done some great work since then, and was it recognized or not? Who knows? Then what are your bucket list goals as an actor, after everything you’ve done to this point?

Costner: I enjoy keeping the Western genre alive. They don’t do a lot of that genre in the movies, but if they’re going to be done – whether remakes or new films – I’d like to be a part of them. I love the Western, that’s pretty basic, and I’d like to do a few more. Anthony, you were recently in one of the best comic book movies of the genre, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” What do you think the adoration of this genre of film say about our cultural direction as a society?

Mackie: I think that genre is great, I think it’s great that we take that form of literature and have introduced it to a new generation. Both kids and adults are going back to the comic books, and learning the origins of those great American creations. My fear is, though, that because movies like that are being made, movies like ‘Black or White’ aren’t being made.

In the business model, I believe in base hits. If you get to the plate and hit seven base hits in a row, you likely score three runs. But in the movie business, everybody wants to hit a home run. It’s very frustrating, because it seems everything is backward. Before, you would do smaller films that became successful, and that would get you an opportunity to do a big film, like a superhero movie. Now, you have to a do a successful superhero movie to get the power to so a smaller, more personal film. It’s a ‘Catch-22.’

Anthony Mackie
Anthony Mackie in ‘Black or White’
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for

Costner: I was only the father of a superhero, I couldn’t stop anything, and they killed me. [laughs] Mike, of your director influences, do you ever include a hidden or not-so-hidden tribute to them in your films?

Binder: Not really, but I do have influences. I love Woody Allen, Sidney Lumet and Cameron Crowe. My whole thing when I see a film I love is always, ‘I wish I had directed that film.’ For example, I wish I had directed ‘Dances with Wolves.’ That’s my thing.

Costner: I feel that way when I see great acting as well. But usually it’s about how I would have never done it that way. I’d be the stupid ass in the corner. [laughs] When I see something that good, I usually think I can’t do that. Otherwise, you’re a narcissistic as*hole. Do you all believe in the karma of the entertainment culture, since your film and ‘Selma’ is releasing just as controversial tensions and race issues are in the news again?

Binder: No, I think it’s more of a zeitgeist. It’s like when somebody has an idea for a movie, and suddenly there are three other films at the same time with similar themes. It percolates in the air. We were working on this long before these tensions, and so was ‘Selma,’ but the issues are always percolating.

Costner: I guess in terms of karma, we could use all the good kind we can get.

“Black or White” opens everywhere on January 30th. Featuring Kevin Costner, Anthony Mackie, Octavia Spencer, Jillian Estell, Bill Burr and André Holland. Written and directed by Mike Binder. Rated “PG-13.” senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2015 Patrick McDonald,

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