This is a I Love Kevin Costner Post
If You Don’t
Well – Leave Now
Or Forever Hold Your Peace
Late one night in Australia I couldn’t sleep. I flicked on the TV and watched Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories: The Mission.
That was the moment a love affair began that has continued ’til today. I believe it will continue ’til I die. That episode was the story of a group of men in an air force bomber (during World War II), who are caught in a no win situation when their belly gunner (an amateur artist) is trapped in his seat and the plane has no wheels for landing. The Captain in that episode was played by a young Kevin Costner.
That episode of Amazing Stories won critical acclaim around the world. Kevin Costner won my admiration. And he has NEVER lost it.
Kevin Michael Costner was born in Lynwoood, California on January 18, 1955 to parents Sharon Rae and William Costner. His is the youngest of three sons (the middle son died at birth).
In Australia we’d call Kevin a bitser (slang for a bit of everything), due to his heritage, which has German, English, Irish, and Cherokee in the mix. They must have got the proportions just right I’d say – look at the man.
More inclined towards sports than academia, Kevin also took piano lessons, sang in the First Baptist Choir, and wrote poetry in his youth. His teenage years saw a young Kevin moving about California a lot, attending various schools before getting a B.A. in Marketing and Finance from California State University in 1978.
After graduating Kevin married Cindy Silva. It was on the return trip from his honeymoon that a chance encounter happened that would point him in another direction. Already enamoured of acting, Kevin was able to spend some time on the flight with Richard Burton.
Back in the States he lasted a mere 30 days in his marketing job. He worked as a truck driver, on fishing boats, even gave tours of stars’ homes in Hollywood so he could support his family and attend acting classes. He also began making the rounds for auditions.
His first role was in the film Sizzle Beach U.S.A. made in the late 70’s/early 80’s, but not released until 1986. He played John Logan, the owner of a riding stable.
From then until 1990 his list of films included:
Chasing Dreams (1982) – Ed
Night Shift (1982) – Frat Boy #1
Frances (1982) – Luther
Table For Five (1983)- – Newlywed Husband
Stacy’s Knights (1983) Will Bonner
In Stacy’s Night Kevin got his first bigger role as Stacy’s mentor at gambling.
Apple Lisa Ad (1983)
The Big Chill (1983) (scenes deleted) Alex
Testament (1983) Phil Pitkin
Kevin played a young husband, after a nuclear holocaust who is trying to get away with his wife after they lose their baby. A small role, but his portrayal began to get him noticed around Hollywood.
Fandango (1985) Gardner Barnes
Kevin’s friend and later collaborator Kevin Reynolds wrote and directed this movie about five college buddies from the University of Texas around 1971 who embark on a final road trip together across the Mexican border before they face their uncertain futures.
Silverado (1985) Jake
This Western was what kicked Kevin’s career into the higher spheres. About a group of cowboys who travel to the town of Silverado, where they set about thwarting the plans of a greedy rancher and a corrupt sheriff. The ensemble cast included Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover, Kevin Costner, John Cleese, and Brian Dennehy.
American Flyers (1985) Marcus Sommers
“American Flyers” is not a movie about beating the odds to win. The relationship between this busted family begins healing when Marcus uses cycling to strengthen the bond between him and his younger brother. It places the emphasis on the characters, not the cycling. Using the scenes of cycling only sparingly to provide entertainment and speed it up in areas.
Shadows Run Black (1986) Jimmy Scott
A series of killings committed by a serial killer known as “The Black Angel sets the scene for this movie.” Kevin has only two scenes as the local campus party animal Jimmy Scott, who is a main suspect in the killings at Dorothy College.
The Untouchables (1987) Eliot Ness
The Untouchables is based on Eliot Ness’s autobiographical retelling about his days spent trying to bring Al Capone to justice. Robert De Niro plays Al Capone. The movie got four Academy Award nominations with Sean Connery winning for Best Supporting Actor.
No Way Out (1987) Lt. Cmdr. Tom Farrell
This is a remake of THE BIG CLOCK, a 1948 film noir starring Ray Milland and Charles Laughton. One of the few GOOD remakes ever done. Costner has an affair with Susan Atwell (Sean Young) after what was a sizzling, smoking hot sex scene in the back of a limo for the time the movie was made. It had me going !!! Susan is the U.S. Secretary of Defense’s (Gene Hackman) mistress. Hackman accidentally kills her, and his aid (Will Paton – who later puts on a brilliant performance with Kevin in The Postman) concocts a plot to keep his identity as her lover secret. He gets Costner to run the investigation into her death. A photo and a Russian spy named Yuri make for a run of events that keep this film full of suspense.
Bull Durham (1988) Crash Davis
One of my favourite movies of all time – let alone a Costner film !! This movie was nominated for eight awards of which it won six. It also had Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. It is an R rated romantic comedy with lots of profanity, sex, and nudity – as it should be in the Minor Baseball Leagues if you ask me. Kevin is wonderful as veteran player Crash Davies.
The Gunrunner (1989) Ted
It is 1926 and The Chinese Civil War is on. Ted Beaubien is captured, then made to witness his girlfriend’s execution. He escapes and vows to avenge her death by pursuing a deadly mission abroad to buy guns and smuggle them back.
Field of Dreams (1989) Ray Kinsella
An American drama-sports-fantasy adapted from the novel Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella. The film stars Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Gaby Hoffmann, Ray Liotta, Timothy Busfield, James Earl Jones, Frank Whaley, and Burt Lancaster. Quite a stellar cast. Itwas nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.
Walking in his cornfield, farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice whispering, “If you build it, he will come”, and sees a baseball diamond. His wife is understandably sceptical, but allows him to plough his corn under and build the field. It’s a magical movie that everyone should see once.
Revenge (1990/I) Michael J. “Jay” Cochran
We are getting to the REALLY good stuff now. My favourite Costner film.
“Jay” Cochran is a newly retired U.S. Navy aviator, and after 12 years in the service, he wants only relaxation and to live one day at a time. He goes to Mexico, accepting an invitation from his wealthy friend Tiburon “Tibby” Mendez to stay for a while at Tibby’s hacienda in Mexico. Tibby is a powerful crime boss, with a young, beautiful and unhappy wife, Miryea.
After Jay and Miryea are discovered having an affair Tibby takes his revenge. It was one of the first films I saw that dealt with AIDS at all on screen. I still cry at the ending every time I see it. The story, the setting, the music, the acting, make this movie – for me – Kevin’s finest.
Dances With Wolves (1990) Lieutenant John Dunbar
Is there anyone on the planet who has not seen this film? You either love it or hate it. I’m a lover. The atmosphere, the story, the music – WOW.
It won the following awards:
- Academy Award for Best Picture – the first Western to win an Academy Award since 1931’s Cimarron.
- Academy Award for Best Director – Kevin Costner
- Academy Award for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – Michael Blake
- Academy Award for Best Cinematography – Dean Semler
- Academy Award for Best Film Editing – Neil Travis
- Academy Award for Best Sound – Russell Williams II, Jeffrey Perkins, Bill W. Benton, and Gregory H. Watkins
- Academy Award for Best Original Score – John Barry
Dances with Wolves was also nominated in the following categories:
- Academy Award for Best Actor – Kevin Costner
- Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor – Graham Greene
- Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress – Mary McDonnell
- Academy Award for Best Art Direction – Jeffrey Beecroft and Lisa Dean
- Academy Award for Costume Design – Elsa Zamparelli
Other Awards it won:
- Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama – Jim Wilson and Kevin Costner
- Golden Globe Award for Best Director – Kevin Costner
- Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay – Michael Blake
- Silver Bear for an outstanding single achievement – Kevin Costner at the 41st Berlin International Film Festival
Michael Blake wrote Dances With Wolves as a spec script in the mid 1980’s. In 1986 Kevin talked Michael Blake into making the script into a novel. The novel was rejected but eventually published in paperback in 1988. Kevin quickly purchased the rights, already envisioning the eventual movie, and his being director.
It might surprise you to know that production of the movie took from July 18 to November 23, 1989. Just four months to make this epic tale.
But this is not just about all the awards. For me this movie is about what happens when natural evolution meets technological change. The saddest part is that we know the ending. Kevin allowed the land to become part of the story – as much a part as were the characters. That is what made this such a cinematic masterpiece.
Dances With Wolves is not just entertainment. It is a statement. A statement about humankind. And the dreadful things we do to ourselves and each other. It is also a statement about the possibility of redemption. If only we are wise enough to choose it.
Kevin had three children during these years with Cindy.
- Annie (born in 1984),
- Lily (born in 1986),
- Joe (born in 1988).
Part 2 – coming soon.