ITALY Magazine meets Kevin Costner in Piazza Barberini in Rome to discuss his new movie "Black and White", which recently screened at the Rome Film Festival.

I've got ten Italian minutes with the busy actor. The first thing I wonder is what he thinks about Rome.

What are you favourite Roman monuments or moments?

The Colosseum. Our sporting arenas are built by the best architects, but then they rip them down 40 years later. Whereas that's still there, 2,000 years later.

I stare at the Colosseum, like I stare at the ocean. The whole story plays out in my mind. I imagine what it would have been like in the dark, with candle light. My wife has Italian blood, with family a few hours outside of Rome and I love it. The way the Roman streets bend! In the States, we have grid-style streets. I love the way people eat in the sun, and walk through the historical centre with their children. Rome stands, it is in itself almost environmentalist, because it has preserved itself, for future generations. I believe in fishes, trees and the animals. It's about trying to leave things for other people. If people pollute the Tiber, that means that future generations, like my grandchildren, can't enjoy sitting by the river and fishing - but Rome has maintained history.

Do you speak Italian?

I speak cowboy.

[Photo: Kevin Costner with daughter Lily on the red carpet at the Rome Film Festival.]

One of the themes in your latest movie, Black and White, is racism. Tell me a bit more about that.

It amazes me what a racist world we live in. We all, as a human instinct, judge and make our first impressions of people. If I see a drunk man stumbling in the street, my instinct would be to want to protect my wife. But then, I might not know that he's on medication and that's why he's stumbling, that was my first instinct, impression, or judgement. But then I am judging a book by its cover. That's human. What I mean is, it's my second, third and fourth reactions that matter. That's when you have time to make an informed choice.

Why did you choose this role?

I didn't choose it, it chose me. It's the same thing as a good book. I heard the words and they spoke to me. In this movie, the only thing in common that I have with the viewer is the first speech. By which I mean that when I read the script for the first time, I felt the same way the viewer feels when they watch the movie for the first time, and hear the speech that my character makes. My reaction to reading the script will be the same, or as spontaneous, as the viewers.

With this film, the producers didn't want to make it. My wife and I funded it. I don't make money to watch it grow piles high. I use it to invest in movies, or to help a friend, or invest in technology.

[Photo: a scene from the film "Black and White", which stars Octavia Spencer alongside Costner.]

Do you feel a social responsibility, being in a position of power, to choose roles based on their moral message?

I make movies for men. Most people assume I make movies for women. But, I make movies for men. I think about how a man would identify with my role, being as I identify with how a man would feel in a fight, or a certain scene. I feel an obligation to make movies with what men would relate to, in my character.

There are some movies that wouldn't be made anymore, like Dances With Wolves, you have to be really driven to make movies like that.

But when choosing a script, the scripts have to match my sensibilities.

What's your next project?

I'm making a Western movie that's about 10 hours long.