The Almost Untouchable Success of Kevin Costner

Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment
April 10th, 2014

Kevin Costner is an American actor, director, producer, singer and musician. He has been awarded two Oscars, an Emmy and three Golden Globe Awards and is best known for acting in films such as "The Untouchables," "Bull Durham" and "Dances with Wolves."

Costner was born on Jan. 18, 1955, in Lynwood, Calif., and was the youngest of his parents' three sons. The middle son died at birth. During his childhood, Costner's academic success was limited, and instead of focusing his attention on school work, he took piano lessons, played sports, wrote poetry and sang in a Baptist church choir. His family moved around California due to his father's career as an electrician and then a utilities executive at Southern California Edison. Costner says that he lost a lot of confidence during that period because he was constantly having to make new friends.

Costner's film career began in "Sizzle Beach, U.S.A.," which was filmed in 1978 and 1979 but was not released until 1986. Costner's friend, director Lawrence Kasdan, promised Costner a role in film and fulfilled that promise with a role in 1985's "Silverado." The western served as Costner's breakout role.

Costner enhanced his movie star status in 1987 with the starring role in "The Untouchables" as Eliot Ness, a federal agent. The gangster film also featured Robert De Niro and Sean Connery and earned $76 million at the domestic box office. The same year, Costner played a leading role in a thriller called "No Way Out." In the following years, Costner managed to cement his name among Hollywood's A-List with two baseball films, "Bull Durham" and "Field of Dreams."

The 1990 film "Dances with Wolves," which Costner produced, directed and starred in, brought him even more success. The film received 12 nominations for the Academy Awards that year and won seven. Costner personally won the award for Best Director. The films following "Dances with Wolves" — "JFK" and "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" in 1991, "The Bodyguard" in 1992 and "A Perfect World" in 1993 — all received critical acclaim or were box-office successes.

Costner's career soon took a turn for the worse, however, with disappointments that culminated in the mid-1990s with two post-apocalyptic movies, "Waterworld" and "The Postman," both of which disappointed critics and audiences. Costner directed "The Postman," the bigger failure of the two. In fact, its failure was so great that it received five Golden Raspberry Awards, including one for worst picture.

Costner's career began to recover in 2000, when he played the role of John F. Kennedy's adviser in "Thirteen Days." Then, he directed and starred in a western called "Open Range" in 2003. Critics liked the project, and it was also more successful than expected commercially. Costner has been involved in multiple projects since then, including "The Upside of Anger," "Mr. Brooks," "Swing Vote" and "The Company Men." Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Affleck and Chris Cooper also starred in "The Company Men," which was considered a potential Oscar nominee, although it received no nominations. In 2012, Costner starred in "Hatfields and McCoys" on the History Channel. The miniseries broke records with 13.9 million viewers and earned Costner his Emmy Award, which was for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. He also won a Golden Globe for the role. Recently, he played the role of Jonathan Kent in Zach Snyder's Superman reboot, "Man of Steel."

Costner also works as a musician. His country rock band, Kevin Costner and Modern West, toured the world beginning in October 2007. The band released an album titled "Untold Truths" in 2008 and another called "Turn It On" in 2010.

Costner has been married twice. His first marriage was to Cindy Silva, a woman he met while attending Cal State Fullerton. They began dating in 1975 and were married three years later. The couple had three children together but divorced in 1994. Bridget Rooney and Costner had a brief relationship following his divorce, and the couple had a son in 1996. Costner married Christine Baumgartner in 2004, and the couple has three children together. Costner has seven children in all.

Kevin Costner has been a successful actor in Hollywood for almost three decades. While his career has not been without its disappointments, much of his work has been both critically and commercially successful, earning him many awards along the way. Much of his recent work has also been successful, and at age 59, Costner still has the ability to create film and television work that pleases both critics and audiences.