Kevin Costner isn’t a name we hear too often anymore. However, after his rise to fame in the 1980s, he was one of the most famous faces and biggest box office draws in the world for the best part of a decade. An old-fashioned movie star for a modern age, he made a string of hits that wowed audiences, and at the height of his fame he won the Academy with his directorial debut, Dances with Wolves.
However, as Costner started getting older and made a few questionable career choices, his star went on the wane, and today he’s we’re more used to seeing him take supporting roles in usually smaller films, rather than headlining huge blockbusters like he used to. Nonetheless, there can be no doubt that at his peak, Costner was the quintessential Hollywood leading man, with a number of memorable hits to his name.
Here are some interesting facts about this huge 80s and 90s star.
20. Tim Burton considered him for Batman
Costner was one of many actors considered for the title role when Tim Burton was casting 1989’s Batman.
Just how interested Costner himself was in playing the DC Comics superhero isn’t clear, but studio Warner Bros saw him as a possibility early on.
Initially, an established big-name actor was sought for the role, with such names as Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Tom Selleck and Denis Quaid suggested.
However, director Tim Burton was more interested in taking on a lesser-known actor, approaching a pre-Bond Pierce Brosnan and Willem Dafoe for the role.
Ultimately, the part went to Burton’s Beetlejuice leading man Michael Keaton – and, though fans were outraged at the time, Keaton has since been hailed as landmark casting.
Costner wouldn’t enter the DC Comics realm until 2013, when he played Superman’s adoptive father Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel – a role he briefly reprised in 2016’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
19. He’s one of only a handful of people to win the Best Director Oscar for his first film
Probably the greatest professional highlight of Kevin Costner’s career was the success of his 1990 film Dances with Wolves at the Oscars.
On top of playing the lead role, Costner co-produced and made his directorial debut on the epic Western.
Dances with Wolves went down well with critics and was a huge commercial success, taking over $420 million at the box office.
Not only that, but the also film garnered a slew of Oscar nominations, and won six – including the two biggest awards, Best Picture and Best Director.
This made Costner the fifth director in Academy Award history to be awarded that honour for the first film on which he called the shots.
To date this has happened only once more in the years since, when Sam Mendes won Best Director for his debut film American Beauty in 2000.
18. He tried to do an English accent for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves but couldn’t get it right
Another of Kevin Costner’s most popular films was 1991 blockbuster adventure Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
The smash hit cast the All-American actor as the mythical hero from English folklore – but there was a slight problem.
As critics and audiences noted at the time, Costner makes absolutely no attempt to sound English in the movie.
Reportedly, the actor had originally intended to play the role with an English accent, but director Kevin Reynolds disagreed, feeling it would distract audiences.
It has been claimed that some takes were shot with Costner – who was training with a dialect coach – trying to sound English, but with very little success, so it was ultimately decided the actor should just use his own accent.
Costner’s heavily Californian take on the character has been widely mocked since, notably in Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights, in which Cary Elwes declares, “unlike some Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent.”
17. He was once the biggest box office star in the world
In 1985, Costner appeared in Silverado and American Flyers, and while neither were huge hits, they announced their leading man as one to watch.
These films paved the way for Costner to land the coveted role of Eliot Ness in Brian De Palma’s 1987 smash hit The Untouchables.
From that point on, Costner’s star status was assured, leading him to one of the hottest winning streaks in Hollywood history.
Between 1988 and 1992, the actor appeared in six movies which were massive critical and commercial hits (as well as two less successful films, The Gunrunner and Revenge).
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and JFK were both among the ten biggest box office hits of 1991, making Costner officially the biggest movie star of that year.
16. He really wanted Nicolas Cage’s part in Raising Arizona
Costner has played plenty of cowboys, action heroes, sportsmen and romantic leads – but one cinematic trope we don’t tend to associate him with is comedy.
Things might have been a bit different if he’d been cast in the role of ‘Hi’ McDunnough in 1987’s Raising Arizona.
The second film from writer-director siblings Joel and Ethan Coen, Raising Arizona is a madcap comedy with a breakout turn from Nicolas Cage.
However, Costner was reportedly very interested in playing Hi, auditioning for the role no fewer than three times.
It’s hard to imagine Costner’s rather straight-laced manner sitting well with the more outlandish style of the Coens, so it’s not too surprising the directors went with the notoriously eccentric Cage instead.
Not that missing out on the role did Costner much harm: 1987 proved to be a very big year for him, with the back-to-back hits The Untouchables and No Way Out.
15. He was rejected for the lead role in Footloose
Another possible role that would have seen Costner kicking off his Sunday shoes was the male lead in Footloose.
Hitting screens in 1984, the iconic dance-based drama with the unforgettable Kenny Loggins theme song was made before Costner was a star.
The actor had several small TV and film roles to his name at the time, but still wasn’t that well known.
More to the point, Costner was already 29 at the time, so it’s debatable if he would have passed for a high schooler.
As it was, the lead in Footloose was of course taken by Kevin Bacon – who, in fairness, is only Costner’s junior by three years.
Other big name stars considered for the part of Ren McCormack were Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe.
14. He has his own country-rock band
Given Kevin Costner’s affinity with cowboy roles, is it really any great surprise that he also loves country music?
Indeed, the actor has even formed his very own country rock band, Kevin Costner & Modern West.
As the frontman, the actor-turned-country rocker sings lead vocal and plays guitar in the group.
Never one to do things by halves, Costner took the group on a world tour in 2007, before they’d even recorded any material.
Costner and the group went on to record their first album, Untold Truths, in 2008.
They’ve subsequently released a further three albums, with more likely to be on the way.
The bulk of Kevin Costner & Modern West’s material is written by bandmate and producer John Coinman, although Costner has co-writer credit on several songs.
13. He married a real-life Disney princess
To his millions of fans, Costner has always seemed like a real-life Prince Charming – so it’s only fitting that he married a bona fide Disney princess.
Costner was a 23-year-old college graduate when he took his girlfriend Cindy Silva down the aisle.
At the time, Silva was employed to portray Snow White at the Disneyland resort in California.
Costner and Silva wed in 1978, before Costner had even considered pursuing a career in acting.
Sadly, the couple wound up divorcing in 1994, by which time Costner was a mega-star.
Six years after the split Costner began dating model Christine Baumgartner, who became his second wife in 2004.
12. He has seven children with three different women
Kevin Costner is the father of seven children, the progeny of three different relationships.
Firstly, Costner and his first wife Cindy Silva had three children together, daughters Annie and Lily and son Joe.
Following their divorce, Costner had a relationship with Bridget Rooney, with whom he fathered another son, Liam.
Reports claim Costner’s relationship with Liam has not been as close as with his other children, as the actor is said to have initially denied paternity until tests confirmed him to be the father.
Finally, Costner married Christine Baumgartner in 2004, and the couple started a family together a few years later.
Costner and Baumgartner’s three children are named Cayden (born 2007), Hayes (born 2009) and Grace (born 2010).
11. Waterworld nearly killed his career
For a while there, it looked like Kevin Costner could do no wrong in Hollywood – but then, there was Waterworld.
The 1995 movie reunited Costner with his Fandango and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves director Kevin Reynolds on an epic fantasy adventure with eco-conscious overtones.
However, through a combination of poor preparation, bad luck and hubris, Waterworld mushroomed into one of the most notoriously troubled and overblown productions ever.
Initially given a production budget of $100 million (already a vast sum at the time), problems behind the scenes saw the budget ultimately inflate to a then-unprecedented $175 million.
To top it off, Costner and Reynolds had a massive falling out during the shoot which resulted in the director quitting the project, leaving Costner to take over as director to finish the film (although Reynolds remains the sole credited director).
All the bad press and overspending meant Waterworld needed to be a Jurassic Park-sized smash to see a profit – but this didn’t happen. With box office takings of $264.2 million, Waterworld wasn’t quite the bomb it’s often remembered as, but it wasn’t the hit that studio Universal had expected.
10. He wanted Princess Diana to star opposite him in a Bodyguard sequel
Unusually for such a big name star, Kevin Costner never made any sequels (outside of briefly reprising his Man of Steel role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice).
This wasn’t necessarily for lack of trying, as plans were at one point in motion for a follow-up to his 1992 smash The Bodyguard.
However, rather than reuniting Costner with the original’s leading lady Whitney Houston, the filmmakers envisaged casting another, more unlikely public figure.
Costner wanted none other than Diana, Princess of Wales to star alongside him in a sequel to The Bodyguard.
Reports indicate that, had this bizarre idea gotten off the ground, Lady Di would have starred as a fictionalised version of herself.
Of course, Diana’s tragic death in 1997 put paid to Costner’s ambitions, and plans for a Bodyguard sequel were scrapped entirely.
9. One of his nude scenes was cut after test audiences laughed
Costner once filmed a full-frontal nude scene that, rather embarrassingly, ended up on the cutting room floor.
The actor shot the scene for 1999 baseball drama For Love of the Game, in which he co-starred with the late Kelly Preston.
However, at a test screening, the audience reportedly started giggling at the actor’s revealing shower scene.
It was then decided by the studio that the scene should be omitted, for fear of the film not being taken seriously.
Ultimately, more cuts were made to For Love of the Game, removing instances of strong language to secure a PG-13 rating.
Not that any of this helped the film commercially: For Love of the Game failed to even recoup its $50 million budget at the box office.
8. After Dances with Wolves won Oscars, his second film as director cleaned up at the Razzies
We often hear the term ‘sophomore slump’ applied to a director’s second film, as artists who succeed early frequently struggle to repeat that success.
1997’s The Postman, Kevin Costner’s second credit as director, stands testament to just how true that maxim can be. Indeed, it was arguably The Postman that truly killed Costner’s career as a major leading man.
A lengthy post-apocalyptic drama, the film received scathing reviews, and was widely ignored by audiences, taking barely $20 million worldwide after costing $80 million to make.
Needless to say, Costner’s second film was entirely overlooked by the Academy – but it caught the attention of the anti-Oscars, the Golden Raspberry Awards.
The awards show, dedicated to naming and shaming the worst that Hollywood has to offer, nominated The Postman in five categories – and it became the first film ever to ‘win’ in every single category it was nominated.
The Postman was named Worst Picture, Costner was named both Worst Director and Worst Actor, and the film was also ‘awarded’ Worst Screenplay and Worst Song.
7. The Big Chill should have been his breakthrough role – but his scenes were cut
1983 comedy drama The Big Chill is fondly remembered for helping to launch the career of several major actors.
Among the actors in the movie who would go on to big things were Glenn Close, Kevin Kline and Jeff Goldblum.
However, another actor who almost got his big break on the movie was none other than Kevin Costner.
Costner shot scenes for the movie in the role of Alex Marshall (a role that Sean Penn had been considered for).
Unfortunately for the up-and-coming actor, all of his scenes wound up being deleted from the final cut of the movie.
By way of an apology for this, The Big Chill director Lawrence Kasdan would later give Costner a prominent role in his 1985 western Silverado.
6. Madonna once apologised on-stage for humiliating Costner in a documentary
Costner was at the height of his fame in 1991 – but that same year, he was also humiliated in a big way by someone even more famous than him.
The actor makes a brief but very memorable appearance in the behind the scenes documentary movie In Bed with Madonna (AKA Madonna: Truth or Dare).
The camera crew happened to catch a moment when Costner was visited backstage after seeing the pop star perform, and he describes her show as “neat.”
As soon as he leaves the room, Madonna ridicules Costner and his use of the word “neat.”
The actor admitted afterwards, “I was embarrassed by it and kind of hurt by it,” but says he has forgiven Madonna after she publicly made amends.
Costner took his daughters to see Madonna perform a decade later, and – although he had not announced his presence to the singer – she took a moment in between songs to apologise to him.
5. He won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for TV mini-series Hatfields & McCoys
In the past two decades, we’ve seen a greater number of actors, writers and directors make the move from film to TV.
Where previously the small screen was considered far less prestigious, these days it’s where a lot of the best work in the entertainment industry is being done.
Kevin Costner found this for himself when he took a leading role in the 2012 TV mini-series Hatfields & McCoys.
This History Channel production, based on real events, reunited Costner with director Kevin Reynolds.
It proved to be a good move, as the actor was widely praised for his performance as William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield.
Costner was named Best Actor in a Mini-series or TV Movie at both the Emmys and the Golden Globes that year.
4. His film debut was a sex comedy that wasn’t released until he got famous
As is the case for a lot of movie stars, the first film role Kevin Costner landed was a little embarrassing.
Years before he dominated the box office, Costner made his debut in Malibu Hot Summer, also known as Sizzle Beach USA.
As might be apparent from either of those alternate titles, the film was a low-brow sex comedy intended for the grindhouse theatres and drive-ins.
The film centred on the romantic misadventures of a trio of young women sharing a beach house for the summer.
The young Costner was, naturally, one of the love interests, a stablehand named John. (See, even back then he had the cowboy thing going on!)
An ultra-low budget production, Malibu Hot Summer was filmed sometime in the late 70s but didn’t even get released until 1986, when it was rushed out to cash in on Costner’s new-found fame.
3. A chance encounter with Richard Burton convinced him to become an actor
With many major movie stars, acting was a lifelong passion they pursued from their youth – but this was not the case with Kevin Costner.
It wasn’t until his senior year at college that Costner got interested in the performing arts, and started thinking about pursuing acting professionally.
Costner and his wife Cindy Silva were on the flight back home after their honeymoon when they happened to meet the film legend Richard Burton.
Costner sought Burton’s advice on whether he should pursue acting, telling the screen icon he was wary of the attention that can come with fame.
Burton (who knew all too well about the lack of privacy that comes with fame, particularly during his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor) inspired Costner to give it a try.
The actor reportedly told the ambitious youngster, “You have blue eyes, I have blue eyes. I think you’ll be fine.”
2. He introduced Morgan Freeman to the script for Unforgiven
When Dances with Wolves took the Best Picture Oscar, it wasn’t just a turning point for Kevin Costner, but for the Western genre on the whole.
The film’s award season success and massive box office takings inspired others in Hollywood to try their hand at Westerns again.
One of the most successful of this new wave of Westerns was 1992’s Unforgiven, which would also take the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director for Clint Eastwood.
However, the script for Unforgiven had been kicking around for many years, and before it reached Eastwood’s desk, it was in the hands of Kevin Costner.
Costner read the script on the set of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – where he presented it to his co-star Morgan Freeman, suspecting Freeman would be a good fit for the role of Ned Logan.
Freeman would later approach Eastwood to request the part when Unforgiven was in pre-production. Eastwood cast him, and the film was a great critical and commercial success.
1. Watching How the West Was Won as a child “formed” Costner
Even though Kevin Costner rose to fame around the time that the popularity of Westerns was on the wane, it’s still a genre he’s closely associated with.
One of his breakthrough movies was 1985’s Silverado, while two of his directorial efforts – Dances with Wolves and Open Range (to date his last work as director) – have also been Westerns.
It’s hardly surprising, then, to learn that Costner grew up a huge fan of the genre.
The actor and filmmaker has cited one film in particular – How the West Was Won – as having a major influence on his career path.
Costner has stated in interviews that seeing the star-studded 1962 film at the age of seven “formed” his childhood.