Ready for His Close-Up: Kevin Costner on aging, fitness and “Jack Ryan”

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Kevin Costner in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.” Paramount Pictures photo

Kevin Costner calls it the Daddy Workout.

Want to look as fit as he does at his age? Well, fatherhood provides more stretching and bending then any yoga class or time at the gym.

“I had three little kids in the last five years,” says 58-year-old Costner, who looks decades younger than his real age as he sips coffee on a warm morning in Los Angeles.

“I slowed down a bit on the career over the last few years to get the kids started,” he says of his three young ones with wife Christine Baumgartner. But it’s obvious, he didn’t slow down in any other ways.

“I went back to work because I had enough of that f—ing minivan!” he says. “I had to get a minivan. My back was killing me hauling the kids in and out of a regular SUV.”

“Talk about wanting to kill someone for real,” he jokes, alluding the body count he amasses as the CIA mentor to a certain young protege in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.” Costner is the older, wiser, but still athletically fit killing machine known as Jack’s agency boss.

“How did I get in shape for a movie that requires me to run around the USSR ducking and evading the bad guys?” Costner poses. “Remember those kids I just told you about? Forget hand weights. Just lift up my kids about a million times a day. Then go running after them when they take off in about a zillion different directions. After all that it was easy to get on a horse and do ’Hatfields and McCoys’ last year.

“It was a vacation!” he says.

In person, Costner looks like he could still dance with those wolves. Tall and lanky, he wears black pants, a starched white shirt and a black vest. In true movie star style, he wears his sunglasses inside the Montage Hotel. Sure, there is a little less hair these days, but enough to make him a sure bid for a Sexiest Older Guy Alive.

He’s still rocking with his band Kevin Costner & Modern West. “I have no voice today and a gig in a few days, so I’m worried,” he says, mentioning a scratchy throat. “Who thought I’d have these issues at my age?”

He blusters when asked about age. “The other day someone said to me, ‘You’ve been doing this for about a century?’ Has it been that long?” he says with a laugh. “But I’m still thinking about that century thing.”

He says movies like “Jack Ryan” keep him young. “I love playing the mentor role. It’s about what you can offer the younger man, in this case Jack Ryan. It’s about your level of experience. I have that level of experience.”

Costner says that he didn’t want to sit it out when it came to the action.

“I didn’t want to just be that CIA mentor who was behind a desk or at a phone going, ‘Jack, get the hell out of there. Do it faster. You need to run!’ I wanted to be out there in the action. I wanted to take the gloves off and become involved. I wanted to be a physical presence.

“That was unusual for a mentor role because they’re usually back in Washington trying to sort it all out,” he says. “I’m actually running after Jack Ryan telling him to slow down, but not because I’m not fast enough. I tell him to slow down or he’ll miss the bad guys.”

Costner says that these kind of challenges and upcoming movies like “Three Days to Kill” keep him young.

“I didn’t get my first paycheck as an actor until I was 27,” he says. “I didn’t burst on the scene at 19 or 20. For me, my longevity in this business is because I come from a place of gratitude.

“Acting to me is not a check. I love making movies. And I love my life outside the business,” he says. “When I come to work, I love to work.”

KEVIN COSTNER’S BEST AGING ADVICE

I ask Costner what’s the best advice he ever received about being a tad older and still going strong and he points to his aging mentor: Sean Connery.

The advice happened on the Chicago set of “The Untouchables.”

“I was pacing around ready to do my scene, but things take forever on a set. All of a sudden, Sean said, ‘Mr. Ness, sit down. Sit down right now.’ I wondered why he was saying this to me.

“Well, it turns out Sean said, ‘Sit down right now. It’s going to be a long day,’ ” says Costner with a laugh.

“Sean didn’t talk about artsy fartsy stuff. He is a practical man with practical advice. He taught me that when it’s going to be a long day, you sit down. Someone will call you when they’re ready.

“What better advice can a man give another man?”

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