Black or White - Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer
Black or White - Elliott Anderson (Kevin Costner) and Rowena Jeffers (Octavia Spencer) © 2014 Blackwhite LLC, photo by Tracey Bennett

In the racial divide that has emerged in America in the past few months comes a timely new movie, Black Or White, by Mike Binder that spotlights a biracial child, and the fight over who is more capable and appropriate to raise her.

Kevin Costner portrays Elliot Anderson, a wealthy lawyer who, along with his wife, have been raising their biracial granddaughter, Eloise (Jillian Estell). But when his wife tragically dies in a car accident, Eloise’s paternal grandmother Rowena (Octavia Spencer) seeks custody of the child. With the best intentions at heart, they are soon confronted with their true feelings about race, forgiveness and understanding.

Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer, who attended the press conference for the movie Black Or White, spoke of their love for this film.

Kevin, you got behind this movie very quickly. What was it about the script or story that appealed to you?

Black or White - Kevin Costner
Black or White – Elliott Anderson (Kevin Costner) © 2014 Blackwhite LLC, photo by Tracey Bennett

Kevin: Actors are looking for great parts and we’re asked to open scripts all the time, and the bigger your career gets the more scripts flow to [you]. And too often when you open a script it just doesn’t ring the bell.

Some of the films that have really propped up my career all had the same thing in common, on the first page they started to sing in their own little way.

This screenplay was carefully crafted and every page that turned I was surprised, every page I wished I might have said that, every page I thought that’s what I would say and sure enough Mike said it.

And so it was the magic of a great screenplay and a story in this instance of the times that we’re living.

It made so much sense to me and when my heart broke into a thousand pieces on the last page, I knew that this was a movie that I was going to try and have made.

Ocativa, what was it about the project that spoke to you?

Black or White - Octavia Spencer
Black or White – Rowena Jeffers (Octavia Spencer) © 2014 Blackwhite LLC, photo by Tracey Bennett

Octavia: Great performance begin with great scripts and great directors. I love working with writer/directors [like Mike] because it’s their vision and there is not a filter that you have to go through, you know exactly what their intent is.

For me, I had to come from a place of what was best for the child and I felt that both worlds were necessary in making a complete child, especially a complete biracial child feel complete and loved.

So it was fun playing opposite Kevin and having our little tension. It was really one of the most magical experiences for me, because he’s my favorite actor –

Kevin: After having acted with me! We’re disappointed a lot in this business.

Octavia: And thank god I wasn’t.

Kevin: Yeah, there’s a tendency for people to think that somehow you can do all this yourself. When these [actors] took the set and hit their marks it was powerful.

It was powerful to see Octavia in that driveway talking for everyone who was watching closely, and everyone who knows what time it is out there in the world, when you have to straighten somebody out that’s closest to you.

Every movie has to get lucky and every movie you have to work hard, and we had that.

What was it about Jillian’s audition that made her so right for this role?

Black or White - Jillian Estell and Kevin Costner
Black or White – Eloise (Jillian Estell) and Elliott Anderson (Kevin Costner) © 2014 Blackwhite LLC, photo by Tracey Bennett

Kevin: We were lucky and we needed to be when we selected her. We couldn’t say for sure that we knew it was going to work, that had to do a lot with Jillian, how she came to the set every day, so we were lucky and she helped everybody.

What I hope is that it doesn’t change Jillian’s life, that this is a moment that shines for her, and if she chooses to go on in this profession that she continues to conduct herself the way she conducted herself on our set.

Black Or White – SoundBytes


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.