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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 12:32 GMT
Costner's film role defended
Kevin Costner
Kevin Costner produces and stars in Thirteen Days
Film makers have defended the role played by Kevin Costner in the Cuban missile crisis drama Thirteen Days after claims of historical inaccuracy.

The film has been accused of exaggerating the role of one of President John Kennedy's aides, Kenny O'Donnell, as played by Costner.


Kenny was an admirable man, but he had nothing to do the Cuban missile crisis

Arthur Schlessinger Jr

The film is told through O'Donnell's eyes, as the US fought to prevent the Soviet Union housing nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962.

"For me as a film director he was a way to get into the story, to be the everyman of the story," director Roger Donaldson told a news conference in Berlin, where the film opened at the city's film festival.

"He had a long-standing relationship with these guys, he was the de facto chief of staff in the White House, he did have the president's ear."

'Big issues'

But the extent of O'Donnell's role has been questioned by some American historians.

"Kenny was an admirable man, but he had nothing to do the Cuban missile crisis," the Boston Globe quoted historian and Kennedy aide Arthur Schlessinger Jr as saying.

Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood
Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood plays President Kennedy
It is "a story that is about the big issues," said Mr Donaldson.

He added: "The big issues are not who said what, the big issues are 'was there this conflict between the military and the elected officials about what action should be taken?'."

Director Oliver Stone also faced criticism over historical accuracy for his film JFK - also starring Costner - which examined the assassination of John F Kennedy.

Costner also produces Thirteen Days and has said he turned down the role of President Kennedy, played Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood, because he did not want the film to become a star vehicle.

In the 1980s Costner was one of the biggest names in Hollywood, but a string of flops, including The Postman and Waterwod, saw his star wane.

  • Thirteen Days opens in the UK on 16 March.

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    13 Jan 01 | Entertainment
    Costner's new tack
    16 Sep 99 | Entertainment
    Costner hits out at own film
    23 Apr 99 | Entertainment
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