Saturday, 26 June 2010

Build it and they will pay

It's one thing to play a hero in the movies, another thing entirely to try it in real life. Most Hollywood stars won't even pick up their own skinny soya latte for fear of scorching their palms, so it's always refreshing to see a movie star willing to step up and save the day.

Harrison Ford may spend his days terrifying journalists with his 'world's grumpiest curmudgeon' schtick, but he's actually a good guy - often turning out in his Cessna to rescue dehydrated hikers in the California hills - well it beats the Kessel run I suppose.

But now there's another A-list silver fox doing his bit for the common man, and it's shot him back into the headlines for the first time in years.

Looking back, it's hard to believe that for a good few years in the 1990s, Kevin Costner was the world's number one movie star. It didn't matter to audiences that he played Robin Hood like he was the new temporary teacher at Beverly Hills High School, or that his hard-edged criminal in A Perfect World was about as threatening as a gift box from Krispy Kreme.

It's been a good few years since Kevin did anything interesting, unless of course you count the 'disgusting sex act' he performed in front of a Scottish hotel masseuse. But now he's eating up the headlines like Beth Ditto at a buffet table, thanks to his canny investment in his brother's water filtration technology.

Several years ago Kevin ploughed $20 million dollars into a water-oil separating "dream machine" designed by his scientist sibling Dan, setting up a company with the touchy-feely title of Ocean Therapy Solutions. It turns out, Dan's clever contraption is a particularly effective solution for mopping up oil spills.

So far, BP's efforts in the gulf have been about as effective as hanging over the side of a speedboat with a handful of kitchen roll, so it's no wonder that they've snapped up a truckload of Costner's innovative centrifuge. Especially since no-one knows more about oceanic disasters than the star/producer of Waterworld.

In a melodramatic press conference in South Louisiana, the one-time box office champ declared "At its core, my dream, this machine, was designed to give us a fighting chance to fight back the oil that has got us by the throat." Having recently testified that he's been blocked by bureaucratic red tape for the last 17 years, he's just happy to finally be putting his machine to good use.

Although Dan Costner is getting the credit for the invention, maybe Kevin is being a little too humble about his own role in its development. As anyone who sat through Waterworld (all 17 of us) will remember, the movie opened with Kevin's Mariner pissing into a clever machine that turned his micturition into quaffable Evian. Life imitates not-exactly-art I guess...

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