Kevin Costner 'Horizon: An American Saga' trailer: Four-part Western epic has been star's 'biggest struggle'

"When no one wanted to make the first one, I got the bright idea to make four more," Costner said.

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We finally have our first look at Kevin Costner's Western epic, with the trailer for Horizon: An American Saga.

"This is by far the biggest struggle," Costner told reporters in a virtual event presenting the trailer last week. "Sometimes I was shocked at what we were able to get."

Horizon: An American Saga release date: June 28
Director: Kevin Costner
Writers: Jon Baird, Kevin Costner
Cast: Kevin Costner, Sienna Miller, Jena Malone, Sam Worthington, Abbey Lee, Michael Rooker, Danny Huston, Luke Wilson, Tatanka Mean, Jamie Campbell Bower, Danny Huston
Horizon: An American Saga Chapter 2 release date: Aug. 16

What is 'Horizon: An American Saga' about?

Set during the Civil War, from 1861 to 1865, the films explore the "lure of the Old West," according to the official synopsis, in a story that takes on the "emotional journey across a country at war with itself, experienced through the lens of families, friends and foes."

Costner famously stated that he partially financed Horizon: An American Saga, including revealing to Deadline that he mortgaged his 10-acre property in Santa Barbara, California, to invest in the project.

As Costner confirmed to reporters, this will be a four-part saga in total, representing a 30-year journey for the star.

"When no one wanted to make the first one, I got the bright idea to make four more," Costner said.

While the film is rated R, Costner hopes that families aren't "putt off" by the rating.

"I don't make Rs gratuitously. I make Rs that a 12-year-old, if somebody says to him, this is going to be a little hard at a moment, but I want you to see it," he said. "I want my little girl to see what their great, great, great grandmother went through. I hope a family does go see it."

Kevin Costner's Horizon: An American Saga (Warner Bros.)
Kevin Costner's Horizon: An American Saga (Warner Bros.)

'This isn't Disneyland, these were real lives'

For the famed actor, particularly known for working on Westerns including Dances with Wolves, Silverado and the series Yellowstone, he wanted to "step away" from the typical Western formula.

"Sometimes there's a town, it's already there, no one knows how it came to be but it's some mushroom that popped up. There's a guy who comes in off the horizon, if you will, we don't know much about him except that he has some skills that he'd like to put behind him, and this town ends up needing those desperately," Costner described. "That's a bit of a formula for the West and when it's done right, we never forget it, and too often it's just a convenience for a hero guy to knock down a dumb guy."

"We have a lot of Westerns that aren't good, because they get too simplified. And Westerns are in fact, complicated, because this isn't Disneyland, these were real lives. People just making their way, women just trying to keep their families clean, fed, and basically worked to death. Women's lives were short, all they did was have to work. And so, I'm drawn to that. I mean, I'm always going to get to my gunfight, but I'm drawn to the little things of what people had to endure."

Sienna Miller in Horizon: An American Saga (Warner Bros.)
Sienna Miller in Horizon: An American Saga (Warner Bros.)

In terms of what made the Civil War years a particularly compelling setting for Costner's project, he called this time period a "mark" on the U.S., from the loss of life, to the reason it was fought.

"All it did was, it closed the West in a blink of an eye," he said. "The Civil War actually kept the focus of the country on the east coast, but the minute that war was over, 1865, the country looked West again, and in 25 years of something that had been there for thousands of years, it was over."

"I don't know that I'm ashamed or embarrassed, but I want to project what really happened. There was a great injustice occurred in the West, but it doesn't minimize the courage it took for my ancestors to actually cut loose and go there. And I recognize the resourcefulness it took, the bravery it took to leave and make this march across this country. It's just a movie that kind of shows the class of cultures. It's our history."

He added he believes it's a "mistake" to "judge" others for how they had to act in a different century.

"I think when you think about the West, you have to understand we were coming out of that terrible Civil War," he said. "People came West, sometimes with a lot of hope, bringing their family, other people came West because they were damaged. Other people came West because they were running away from something, and nobody knew who each other was."

"The stranger ... was the boogeyman, ... people were afraid of you, because they didn't know if that was really your name, or what you'd really done, and people caught on very quick in the West, that if they were strong enough, like the trailer says, if they were mean enough, they could hold on to something. They could take it away from you. And when you can create that architecture in a movie where anything is possible, some people get lucky, and some people are not lucky. And the reason why people kept going West, because they would look down at these graves that followed the trail West. And when they tried to look at their wife who said, 'Why are we going out here?' The man simply said, 'We're going to be luckier than them.' And that's how this country got settled, the American native Indians were crushed under this movement. They didn't stand a chance."

Horizon: An American Saga Chapter 1 is in theatres June 28, followed by Horizon: An American Saga Chapter 2 being released Aug. 16.