Kevin Costner initially reluctant to play Hidden Figures character
Kevin Costner did not immediately accept the part of Al Harrison, the driven leader of the Nasa space programme bent on beating the Russians in the space race in Hidden Figures.
He had reservations about taking it on, as he did not understand it the way it was written.
The character is also the only major role that is a composite of three actual people.
At the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills, Costner, 62, talked frankly about the problems he had with the character in the original draft, which he called "schizophrenic".
Changes were made after discussions with writer-director Ted Melfi, with the part rewritten to Costner's satisfaction.
But the script had yet to be finished when shooting started.
Melfi admitted that Harrison was the hardest to write.
Costner said: "Ted said, 'Well, one of them was a racist, and one of them was really boring, and one of them was blah, blah, blah.' And I said, 'Okay, I can't play this if it is not consistent.' One minute he is saying one thing, and the next minute he is saying another thing."
Costner pinned down Melfi to talk him through every change every day.
"A lot of people say they will work with me just to get me in the movie. Once that happens, the collaboration is over or they get too busy," Costner said.
"But he dealt with all the little problems that I had, so that we could finally even this character out and be something that was perhaps watchable."
Ultimately, Costner portrayed Harrison as a highly motivated administrator who is mostly oblivious to the tensions around him when he hires black female mathematician Katherine Johnson to become part of his team and ends up being a mentor to her.
Costner has no idea why this story has never been told.
"But I know that was a reason why I wanted to be a part of it. I noticed my picture is not on that (movie) poster," he joked.
"I knew that it wouldn't be. But when I read the story, I was thrilled with it and also not surprised.
"Sometimes we do not understand the pages of our own history, and this was certainly a hidden page.
"Certainly, I did not have a clue about the African-American participation in the space programme. I wanted to support that movie."
So did he have to do any maths research to play Harrison?
Costner, who admitted that he was not good at the subject, joked: "Where I was looking at equations, I tried to raise my IQ by nodding a lot. And if a question was too hard for me, I handed it over to a subordinate and let somebody know that that is such an easy question, that she will answer it."
Going into outer space is not something that appeals to Costner either.
"I am always shocked that usually more than half the room would go. I wouldn't," he said.
"I want to be on the beach. I think so many things could go wrong up there. I am so willing to listen to whoever went and go, wow!"