Born on January 18, 1955, in Lynwood, California, actor Kevin Costner first came to fame in the 1980s. As a teen, he sang in the Baptist church choir, wrote poetry, and took writing classes. At 18, he built his own canoe and paddled his way down the rivers that Lewis & Clark followed to the Pacific. Despite his present height, he was only 5’2″ when he graduated high school. Nonetheless, he still managed to be a basketball, football and baseball star.
Costner attended California State University in Fullerton, where he studied marketing. During college, he developed an interest in acting. Costner spent years as a struggling performer after graduating from college in 1978. He directed and starred in the epic film Dances with Wolves (1990), which won seven Oscars.
In 1987, Costner’s career really took off with two hit films. He starred with Sean Young in the popular thriller No Way Out and played the legendary crime fighter Eliot Ness in The Untouchables with Sean Connery.
Untouchable’s director Brian De Palma praised Costner’s work on the film, saying that “he can take those old Western lawman lines and make them real.” Continuing his winning streak, Costner starred in the baseball romantic comedy Bull Durham with Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins the following year.
Although often compared with Gary Cooper, he has himself named James Stewart as the western star who has most influenced his work. As a child he was particularly fond of the five westerns Stewart made for director Anthony Mann.
His career revived somewhat in 2000 with Thirteen Days, in which he portrayed a top adviser to John F. Kennedy. The western Open Range, which he directed and starred in, received critical acclaim in 2003, and was a surprise success commercially.
He received some of his best reviews for his supporting role as retired professional baseball player Denny Davies in The Upside of Anger, for which he received a nomination from the Broadcast Film Critics Association and won the San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor.
After that, Costner starred in The Guardian and in Mr. Brooks, in which he portrayed a serial killer. In 2008, Costner starred in Swing Vote. Costner was honoured on September 6, 2006 when his hand and foot prints were set in concrete in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre alongside those of other celebrated actors and entertainers.
In 2010, he appeared in The Company Men alongside Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper. It debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, and received good reviews.
Costner is the singer in Kevin Costner & Modern West, a country rock band which he founded with the encouragement of his wife Christine. They began a worldwide tour in October 2007, which included shows in Istanbul and Rome.
In the final days before the 2008 election, Costner campaigned for Barack Obama, visiting various places in Colorado a state in which he has a home. In his speech, Costner stated the need for young voters to get to the polls, early and with enthusiasm.