Yellowstone star and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Kevin Costner paid emotional tribute to his longtime collaborator, production designer Ida Random as she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 26th annual Art Directors Guild Awards tonight. And his tribute included the revelation that he might not have an an acting career without her intervention.
From the stage at the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown, an admittedly nervous Costner – who’s worked with Random on his directorial efforts including The Postman – recounted the critical impact she had when he was an extra on the 1981 film Frances, on which Random served as art director.
“For six years I’d been trying to break into Hollywood, and despite all my best efforts, I was just unable to get a SAG card,” said Costner, who had a minute appearance in a scene set in an alleyway outside a theater where actress Frances Farmer, played by Jessica Lange, was exiting after appearing in the play Golden Boy.
“I’m singled out among the extras by casting director Elisabeth Leustig, who would later go on to become my casting director on Dances with Wolves,” he continued. “She walked me up to Ida, who I couldn’t help but notice on the set having been there for three days. She [Ida] was really Annie Hall before there was Annie Hall, if you know what I mean. She always seemed to be around the camera and without notice, she would move into the set as if no one was watching, pick up a book and move it. In fact, she would pick up anything – lamps, ashtrays, pictures…Anything that seemed to be bothering her she would just move it, maybe inches.”
“Suddenly I find myself standing in front of her, and she’s looking at me, and it’s safe to say that I had gone from thinking she might be in trouble [for moving things] to now wondering if I was,” Costner explained. “She looked at me in a very real way, and I don’t know how else to describe it. I had no idea what I had done or what she was looking for…What she couldn’t have possibly known as I waited for her to speak was how shamefully desperate I was to be seen as an actor.
“After a long moment – an Ida Random moment, you’d have have to see one to know one – she turned to Elizabeth said ‘This works.’” Because he fit in Random’s aesthetic vision for the scene, Costner got to deliver a single line – “Goodnight, Frances” – “and it would change the trajectory of my career.”
As he told the story, Costner choked up, and attendees were caught up in his emotional moment.
“I’ll never forget you, Ida,” he said. “You changed my life that night.”
He continued, “That’s what Ida does: She changes lives. She makes things better, sometimes by inches…She’s the director’s best friend and confidant. She’s the actor’s biggest cheerleader as she walks them through her perfect sets…You’re a filmmaker in every sense of the word, adding your most personal touch to the movies you call your paintings.”
Random has also worked with other top filmmakers including Barry Levinson (Rain Man, for which she was Oscar-nominated), Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill, Silverado, Wyatt Earp), James L. Brooks (Spanglish), Danny DeVito (Throw Mama From the Train, The War of the Roses) and Justin Lin (Fast & Furious).
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