Kevin Costner

Academy Award-winning American actor Kevin Costner starred in some of the most critically-acclaimed films of the 80s and early 90s, most notably "Field of Dreams" (1989), "Dances with Wolves" (1990), and "JFK" (1991). Costner was born in Lynwood, California and raised throughout his middle school years in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton. His mother was a welfare worker, while his father worked for the electric company, first as a service line worker and then as an executive. By the time Costner was a teenager, his dad had to move the family around a lot, due to his quickly advancing career with the electric company. Although Costner remained in California during this nomadic period, he found it difficult to make friends when every other year or so he was greeted as the "new kid." Costner described this period in his life as riddled with low self-esteem. However, despite never being a great student, he did excel in sports, and soon became enamored with artistic endeavors, like writing and singing in the choir. When it came time to enter college, Costner enrolled in the business program at California State University, Fullerton. He joined a fraternity while attending the school, and graduated four years later. It was only during his last year of college, however, that Costner began giving some serious thought to becoming an actor. So, after college, he secretly began taking acting classes one night a week, making sure not to tell anyone-even his newly wed wife. Costner planned on keeping his acting hobby a secret until fate intervened and he found himself sitting in the same plane as the actor Richard Burton on a trip from Mexico. Costner eventually worked up the nerve to speak to Burton, and the two had what would eventually be a life-changing conversation. Burton told Costner that if he was serious about acting, he should pursue it with gusto, because he would never forgive himself if he didn't. Despite never meeting again, Costner cited that chance meeting with Richard Burton as forever changing the course of his life. Shortly after returning from Mexico, Costner revealed to his wife of his intention to become an actor. He then began taking acting classers five nights a week, quit his job in marketing, and began doing odd jobs like driving a truck and giving tours of movie star homes to make ends meet. He nabbed his first film acting role in "Malibu Hot Summer," also known as "Sizzle Beach, U.S.A." Although the movie was filmed in the late 1970s, it was not released until 1986, when Kevin Costner had become a bona fide star. Costner continued nabbing a number of small roles throughout the 80s, in films like "Chasing Dreams" (1982), "Stacy's Knights" (1983), and "Table for Five" (1983). He was also cast in director Lawrence Kasdan's 1983 ensemble comedy-drama "The Big Chill" as Alex, the friend whose suicide prompts the group of 7 college friends to reunite for Alex's funeral. Several of Costner's scenes were supposed to be flashbacks used in the story, but when the film was released in 1983, all of Costner's scenes were cut. Kasdan felt awful about having to cut Costner from "The Big Chill" and promised him a part in his next film. That film was the action-drama "Silverado," which was released two years later in 1985. His appearance in "Silverado" was a breakout role for Costner, and in the years that followed his career really took off. From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, Kevin Costner rose to become one of the biggest movie stars in the world, with a number of critically-acclaimed roles in films like "Field of Dreams," "Dances with Wolves," and "JFK." In addition to starring in "Dances with Wolves," Costner also directed the film and produced it. "Dances with Wolves" took home the Best Director and Best Picture Oscars at the 1991 Academy Awards, giving Costner his very first Oscar wins. Having just come off one of the best acting streaks in Hollywood history, by the mid-90s Costner showed signs of no longer having the Midas touch. In 1995 starred in the dystopian sci-fi epic "Waterworld." In addition to being the most expensive film ever made at the time, "Waterworld" was a massive flop at the box office, thus proving to be a catastrophic blow to Costner's once untouchable career. In the years that followed, Costner would appear in several more critical duds, including "The Postman" (1997), which he also directed, "Message in a Bottle" (1999), "3000 Miles to Graceland" (2001), and "Rumor Has It" (2005). By the mid to late-2000s, however, Costner's career, once on life support, began to rebound. In addition to appearing in well-received films like "The Upside of Anger" (2005) and "The Company Men" (2010), he also earned praise for his role as "Devil" Anse Hatfield in the Western mini-series "Hatfields & McCoys" (History, 2012). By the 2010s, Costner's acting comeback was in full force. He was lauded for his performances in films like "Hidden Figures" (2016) and "Molly's Game" (2017), and in 2018 returned to TV as John Dutton on the western series "Yellowstone" (Paramount Network, 2018- ). "Yellowstone" was the first regular TV series role Costner accepted in his career. In 2019 Costner supplied the voice of Enzo the dog in the comedy-drama "The Art of Racing in the Rain" (2019).