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There are certain white actors who enjoy popularity in the black community that other ones just don’t have. One of those actors is Kevin Costner, who won Black audiences over with his portrayal of Whitney Houston’s dedicated protector turned not-meant-to-be lover in The Bodyguard. When he spoke lovingly of the singer/actress at her funeral, he became even more credible. His latest movie 3 Days to Kill opens in theaters on Friday. In it, he plays a forcibly retired CIA agent who has one last job to do before ending his career.

“He’s an ex-CIA guy who’s being retired so because he has a terminal illness so he’s no longer a useful asset and he has to go somewhere so he goes back to a family he’s been estranged from,” Costner told The Tom Joyner Morning Show. “They don’t easily receive him. The only way he feels he has value to them is to put some money in their bank account. To do that, he has to do the thing he knows how to do. He’s asked by a splinter group of the CIA to go dispatch a few people for money and he does. But it’s quite funny along the way.”

Costner has appeared in a variety of movies during his lengthy career and in many of them he’s played military men, lawmen and action heroes in films like Against All Odds, the Untouchables and Revenge. He won an Oscar for directing and starring in 1990’s Dancing With Wolves and is known for his baseball films Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. But as he’s gotten older, Costner has starred in smaller, more character-driven films that emphasize his age and experience. Although some think he’s been laying low the last few years, he’s just become more selective about his work.

“I made the movies and they just kind of stacked up,” he says. “I don’t feel like I’ve gone anywhere. We have three babies here and movies aren’t my entire life. When I actually find a movie I feel is really, really important, a lot of times I can’t always get it made. One movie you haven’t mentioned is the movie Black and White. (It comes out later this year.) It’s a movie about the notion of racism and how delicate and difficult that subject seems to be. I found this little movie that thought really opens the window on that discussion. People want to have it but they don’t know how to get out of themselves. I couldn’t get it green lit so I paid for it myself.”

Costner said he is still asked about his tribute to Whitney, but tells the Tom Joyner Morning Show that he was initially reluctant to do it. He wasn’t sure that he was the right person to speak on her behalf, although his heartfelt words were among the most memorable of the televised funeral.

“When it actually happened I really didn’t know what to do. I kind of froze. People were immediately going on the air and talking about Whitney, as they should. After about the third day of me not being on the air, people started asking ‘Where’s Kevin, Where’s Kevin?’ And this drumbeat starting beating and I thought I don’t’ immediately know how I feel and the last thing I wanted to do was go on television. We had an onscreen relationship and it was a fabulous one. It was an intersection of our two careers and people loved the movie. People wanted to hear from me and frankly, I didn’t understand that completely. I got a call from Dionne Warwick and I thought frankly, there must be someone else, someone closer.”

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