Kevin Costner refused to bow to pressure to edit out a racial slur his character utters in new drama Black or White, because he wanted to address the issue of racism head on.
The Oscar winner produced and financed the passion project himself after big studio bosses passed on the release, in which he plays a grandfather fighting for custody of his mixed-race grandchild with her paternal grandmother, portrayed by Octavia Spencer.
One tense scene with his lawyers required Costner to use the ‘N’ word, raising concerns among other producers, who urged him to shoot an alternative sequence – but he flat out refused.
He explains, “There was talk about it (filming an alternative scene), but I funded it, there was no way I was going to do this any (other way). There’s no point in dancing around the subject, and… the words do get said.”
Costner, who spent his formative years growing up in the rough neighbourhood of Compton, California, admits he witnessed first hand how the ‘N’ word is used behind closed doors during his youth and he wanted to make sure the race-related film was as close to reality as possible.
He tells Today, “That word used to be used a lot, in joke (sic), never to somebody’s face. I never saw it ever used in anger, but it was used… and so I’m around that… I heard that from extended family, I even used that word myself as a young person…”
However, Costner insists he would never use the racial slur in his own life now, adding, “There’s a moment in time where that fades away. It’s not appropriate anymore…”
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