The following is excerpted from the Deseret News. To read the full article, CLICK HERE

“There’s a lot of heaven in Utah,” Kevin Costner told me during our conversation about “Horizon: An America Saga,” the Academy Award winner’s latest project. “There are these places that are just almost indescribable.”

Costner had called me directly. When I answered, I expected to speak to an assistant. But instead I heard one of Hollywood’s most renowned stars say, “Meg, it’s Kevin.” He then described what he loves so much about my state and why he chose to film “Horizon” here.

Costner, 69, is best known for his run of hits in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, including “Field of Dreams,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and “Dances with Wolves,” for which he won Academy Awards for best picture and best director. More recently he starred in Paramount’s hit series “Yellowstone” from 2018-2022 before stepping away to film “Horizon,” which brings the Western back to the West.

The first of four chapters of “Horizon,” which Costner co-wrote, directed, produced and stars in, hit theaters Friday. The second chapter will premier Aug. 14.

The Western epic saga — which took Costner 30 years to write and $38 million of his own money to produce — chronicles the Civil War-era expansion and settlement of the American West set against the stunning backdrop of red-rock mesas. While the locations in the film span Wyoming, New Mexico and Montana, the first two chapters were filmed in Utah, and Costner plans to keep production in the state for Chapters 3 and 4.

Costner told me he felt as though he might hurt his neck the first time he drove through Utah, craning to see all the breathtaking landscapes. “I couldn’t look away,” he said. “I knew the story wanted to be set there. I thought that it would be the best possible thing for the movie,” he added. “There are these wide, open spaces that almost defy imagination. That kind of look is fabulous for a western.”

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