Kevin Costner at AARP gala: ‘Look at the clock’ and go for it, boomers

Kevin Costner and Rene Russo at AARP's 14th annual Movies for Grownups Awards Gala at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills on Monday.
(Todd Williamson / Associated Press)

Kevin Costner gave an inspiring acceptance speech and Rene Russo gave her first acceptance speech ever on Monday night at the 2015 AARP Movies for Grownups Awards Gala in Beverly Hills.

Costner first chided the audience, however, for “only paying half” to go to a movie.

It’s “very hard to get a gross” from baby boomers with half-price movie discounts, the 60-year-old said. “You have to go twice.”


Then he got serious.

“It’s time we remind ourselves of who were were,” said the two-time Oscar winner. “Once upon a time I was the youngest in this tribe” that he’d now joined.

“Like an athlete, I would ask you to look at the clock” as well as at dreams both realized and unrealized, Costner said.

“I’m not saying we should go out and build a baseball diamond in a cornfield,” the “Field of Dreams” star joked. “Not saying that at all.”

However, invoking the 1956 movie “Giant,” Costner said, “We’re not just old dogs looking for one last fight. I think we have a chance to stand taller than ever before, a chance to go out with a bang. There’s still time. I don’t know how much time, but there’s still time.”

All this, of course, came after he’d gotten a big laugh from the audience at the Beverly Wilshire with a reference to the fact that he’d put up his own money to get “Black or White” made, as he’d done for 1990’s “Dances With Wolves.”

“You’re all doing really good,” he said, “and I’m still paying for ... parts.”


Before he stepped up to get his award, presented by “Black or White” costar Octavia Spencer, a youngster at 44, Costner had already been name-checked from the stage by two other AARP winners: Russo and J.K. Simmons.

Russo, 60, the supporting actress winner for “Nightcrawler,” earned a lot of laughs herself with a profanity-peppered acceptance speech in which she called herself a “virgin recipient” and thanked her mom, her husband, her manager and her eighth-grade Spanish teacher, whom she said helped her navigate through the years when she was known as “beanpole.”

Not counting that Blockbuster Awards best-kiss title in 1989, she said, it was the first time she’d ever won anything -- in stark contrast to “Tin Cup” costar Costner, she said, reminding him who’d presented him with another lifetime achievement award at the Critics’ Choice Awards a couple of weeks prior. Yup, it was Russo.

“Nightcrawler” was written and directed by Dan Gilroy, her hubby since 1992, and she thanked him for fitting her into the film and “not forcing a sex scene into it -- but that would have been kind of cool.”

“The irony is not lost on me that this award was handed to me by a child,” Simmons said after accepting the supporting actor trophy from “Whiplash” writer and director Damian Chazelle, 30, whom he thanked for standing firm when studio honchos talked about pulling in someone with more “box-office clout” when the movie morphed from a short to a feature film.

“I’m so grateful to Damian for sticking by his guns and letting me be the guy who’s up here accepting this,” said the 2015 Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee.

He also joked about being only nine days older than Costner, despite having been cast as a decades-older character when the two were in 1999’s “For Love of the Game.” At 60, Simmons has yet to make it to that character’s scripted age of 63.

Rick Springfield, 65, had an apt observation as he introduced a roundup of films that were on AARP’s watch list for next year: “We’re the last generation that realizes we have to pay for entertainment. So, God bless us for that!” And yes, women did swarm him for selfies before the night was over.

An acknowledgment of age, both younger and older, was a thread that ran through the evening, sponsored by the organization for folks 50 and older. A couple of child actors, Emjay Anthony of “Chef” and Jaeden Lieberher of “St. Vincent,” found themselves onstage and quite nervous, while John Favreau noted he was only two years away from joining the AARP club. Spencer had joked about printing her speech out in 18-point type so she could read it.

Chris Pratt, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones represented the 30-somethings in taking the stage for “The Lego Movie” and “The Theory of Everything,” which won for best movie for grownups who refuse to grow up and best movie for grownups, respectively.

“We must end young people’s stranglehold on youth,” “The Lego Movie” writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller declared in their acceptance speech, invoking the message from “AARP-eligible rapper Chuck D” to “fight the power.”

John Leguizamo, 50, hosted the event, and among the other guests, 75-year-old Valerie Harper was on hand -- two years after her terminal-cancer diagnosis -- looking radiant, healthy and happy.

“You do what feels right for you,” she told People on the red carpet, acknowledging that she’s “not doing everything” to fight her leptomeningeal carcinomatosis but is big on exercise and acupuncture as therapies, and grateful for her husband’s support.

“It’s very important to follow your intuition.”

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