What the Hell Happened to Kevin Costner?

costner 2013

In the early 90’s, he was arguably the biggest star in Hollywood.  His films were hits.  His directorial debut swept the Oscars.  Kevin Costner was at the top of the A-list.  Twenty years later, his films go direct to video and he’s been reduced to playing Pa Kent in the new Superman movie.

What the hell happened?

Kevin Costner - Sizzle Beach USA

Kevin Costner – Sizzle Beach USA

Kevin Costner’s first film was a little gem called, Sizzle Beach USA.  The movie sat on the shelves until after Costner became a star and then was released on video to cash in.

Kevin Costner - Night Shift - 1982

Kevin Costner – Night Shift – 1982

Costner can also be spotted very briefly in Night Shift!  He plays “Frat Boy #1” in the party scene at the morgue.

Kevin Costner

Kevin Costner – The Big Chill – 1983

Costner filmed scenes for the 1983 hit, The Big Chill.  He played Alex, the college friend whose suicide brings the rest of the cast together.  Unfortnately, Costner’s flashback scenes were cut and he ended up playing a corpse.  His face was never seen in the movie.  But he did lay still very convincingly.

Director Lawrence Kasdan was a friend and promised to make it up to him by casting him in another role later.

de mornay - testament

Meanwhile, Costner continued paying his dues in movies like Testament.

In Testament, Costner had a small role opposite Rebecca De Mornay.  She and Costner played a young couple who decide to leave town after losing their baby.

Testament was originally filmed as a an entry for the PBS TV series, American Playhouse. It received a small theatrical release before eventually airing on PBS. Reviews were mostly positive.

Kevin Costner and Judd Nelson - Fandango - 1985

Kevin Costner and Judd Nelson – Fandango – 1985

In 1985, Costner starred opposite Judd Nelson and Sam Robards in Kevin Reynolds’ coming-of-age comedy, Fangango.

Costner, Nelson and Robards played recent college grads who embark on a road trip circa 1971.  Costner’s character has broken up with his ex played by model-turned actress Suzy Amis in her acting debut.  Robards’ character is engaged but is having second thoughts about getting married.  Nelson played the friend with a car.

The movie started out as a student film by Reynolds while he was attending USC film school.  Steven Spielberg liked his student film well enough to fund a feature-length version of the movie.  But Spielberg was disappointed in Fandango and had his name removed from the final film.

Costner audition for the lead role in the student film but was not cast.  He auditioned again for the feature-length version and won the part.  He and Reynolds became good friends.  They would go on to collaborate several more times including Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Waterworld.

Robards and Amis also had future collaborations.  Robards, the son of Jason Robards and Lauren Bacall, married Amis in 1986.  They had a son together but divorced in 1994.

Spielberg chose not to give Fandango a wide release despite mostly positive reviews.  Director Quentin Tarrantino has high praise for the movie which he was able to track down during its limited time in theaters:

Fandango is one of the best directorial debuts in the history of cinema. I saw Fandango five times at the movie theater and it only played for a fucking week, all right.”

Over time, the movie has developed a small but loyal cult following.

Next: Silverado and The Untouchables

Posted on August 20, 2011, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor, WTHH Director and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 426 Comments.

  1. The movie has 25 mill budget so it does not have to make a ton of money to break even it should do ok

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  2. Lebeau i have a feeling hidden figures will be snubbed for best picture. Plus i think it will bomb wide release

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  3. Its oscar buzz is dying down plus it is not exactly a box office friendly film. Do you really think audience will flock to see a movie about three women doing math for nasa. I know you like to wait and see but do you honestly think it will do good box office wise

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  4. when is oscar season

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  5. Hidden wide release is jan. Iam sure u have at least some predictions on its box office.

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  6. it has star wars to compete with when it opens wide plus it has live by night to compete with and ben is still a huge draw so its going to be tough

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  7. since the town hes had a lot of hits like argo gone girl.

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  8. iam sure u can agree ben is more bankable then kevin right now

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  9. lebeau would you say hidden is doing ok in its limited release right now.

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  10. Part of me think costner career downfall had to do with his affairs. Audiences expected him to be the hero offscreen but when word of his affair got out people felt betrayed. He was sold as the nice guy family man and could not live up to the hype

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    • Maybe I’m misdirected, but I just thought that the blockbusters that Costner was counted on didn’t pan out, so the perception of him changed. I mean, if he was bringing in the green and audiences were still on his side I think even if he strutted around like Hugh Hefner all would’ve been forgiven.

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      • Yeah, I don’t think all that many people cared what Costner did in his private life or what he was like off camera. The problem is, he kept making movies like Waterworld and The Postman instead of Dances With Wolves and Robin Hood. His hot streak was followed by flops and disappointments.

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  11. Dances with wolves game him a huge ego and he thought he could do no wrong. Which is why he made long bloated mess like postman and waterworld. He seemed to settle into charactor career

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  12. An affair ruined meg career i assumed it did same to kevin. Since like meg kevin played the boy next door type.

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    • Very different situations. Ryan was America’s sweetheart. Her affair was tabloid news and she was portrayed as the bad guy. Crowe was viewed as a scoundrel and Quaid was seen as a spurned victim. That wasn’t reality, but it was the perception. Also, the public is more forgiving of men who cheat. Plenty of actors were behaving much worse than Ryan with no consequences to their career.

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  13. Quaid had his fair share of affairs too. Quaid was known as a womizner he cheated on his last wife. The public never attacked him the way they did meg. Of course dennis was never a big star like meg so people did not care about him or his career. It did not affect crowe career . In fact i noticed around the time of affair quaid and crowe career have gotten bigger.

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  14. hidden had a wide release today lets hope it does good. If this film is a hit it could do wonders for both dunst and costner

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  15. Surprised u are not familiar with hidden figures it gotten a lot of buzz getting lots of hype. dunst never really had a downfall just went the indie route. While costner picked wrong films

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  16. It upsets me how people trash kevin acting saying he has no range but praise clint eastwood. Kevin had played more variety of different characters and has more personality in his acting then clint. the only reason people do not trash clint is he picked more hit films then kevin. However that does not make clint a better actor Kevin has great comic timing evident by tin cup played a menacing villain in a perfect world. When has clint played a bad guy

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  17. hidden already made 10 million so far given its 25 mill budget its off to good start

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  18. hidden has beaten star wars for the top spot. People are predicting hidden will do well

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  19. i know this is premature but hidden has already made 24 mill which given its budget is great. its number 2 behind star wars its predicted to do well

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  20. lebeau I know you think its too early to say but you can at least admit its off to good start 24 miill in its 3rd day and its number 2 at box office plus it has 25 mill budget I think things are looking good

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  21. not sure if it will be a hit but it should at least break even . Plus this will be great counter balance to kevin last dud criminal

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    • At this stage of Costner’s career, he’s a supporting actor and not a lead. Box office is nice, but not essential. If the movie is a hit, it won’t give his career much of a boost. If it hac flopped, it wouldn’t have hurt him. This is kind of the bonus round of his career.

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  22. supporting roles do not help as much as lead but a supporting role in a hit still does help actors career especially one like kevin who leading career dried up.kevin is long overdue for hits it would be good to attach his name to hits Michael caine had a string if supporting hits after ciderhouse rules are you saying all those supporting hits he was one did nothing for his career would same go for morgan freeman who mostly in supporting hits.

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    • I’m saying those hits didn’t make Caine a leading man. It looks like Hidden Figures will do well. It may even get some awards. Those are all good things. But at the end of the day, it probably won’t change much for Kevin Costner.

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  23. it might lead to more supporting roles in top film . |Not sure if anyone follows Michael caine career like I do since I am huge fan but before cider house his career was dead. then after he won Oscar for it it lead to a lot of supporting roles in hit same might happened to kevin. in fact Michael caine used to a leading man then flops hurt his career which turned him into character actorl. in fact if you made this blog in 90s caine would be a great candate lebeau cause his career was derailed at one point. caine career is similar to cage one year he wins Oscar then one year he makes an silly flop and like cage caine was assocated with flops

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    • It could lead to more supporting roles. But I don’t think he’s having trouble getting those. If you are looking for an All American mentor figure, Costner is at the top of the list.

      There’s just not much at stake for him at this point in his career. He’s going to keep working as long as he wants to. He’ll never be a box office draw again, but he’ll probably give some memorable performances in some good movies.

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  24. i meant supporting roles in high profile films like Michael caine

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  25. connery had a supporting role in untouchables and it lead to big box office hits. if connery can become a box office draw again in late age so can anyone. in fact him and jack Nicholson are only actors I can think of that where drawing huge lead hits in their 70s

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    • Connery’s comeback was a rarity. You can’t expect something like that to happen. Even if Costner won Best Supporting Actor, it probably wouldn’t come anywhere close to the career boost Connery’s win gave him.

      You have to remember that during his 007 days, Connery was a massive movie star. Then in the 70s and much of the 80s, he was written off. Untouchables did two things. One, it reminded people that they liked Sean Connerya dn two it showed them that he wasn’t just James Bond. They started taking him seriously. People already take Kevin Costner seriously. He’s won his Oscars. A late career Oscar for Best Supporting will look nice on his mantle, but it won’t make him a leading man again. Those days are past.

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  26. connery had gotten race review for his acting before untouchable like in the name of the rose and man who would be king maybe a better example liam nesson who became a huge draw over 50 after success of taken it is rarity but actors at older age can still become draws theres hope for all. lets not forget Keaton had his huge leading comeback over 60 with birdman and thanks to that he will gain more leads . Costner just needs his birdman

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  27. hidden is number 1 second week . I know this wont make keivn more powerful but it will add another hit on kevin resume which is good. Have supporting role in hit beats lead in postman. I think this will gain best picture . so even thought it wont make dunst and Costner huge stars it looks good on both their resume

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  28. lebeau do u think hidden will reach the 100 dollar mark

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  29. it has plenty of time to be hit been out for 2 weeks

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    • It’s a hit already. It beat Star Wars last weekend and exceeded expectations this week. It has a very high Cinemascore and great reviews. It’s a hit, you can relax. 😉

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  30. its only been out for 2 weeks it cant be a hit it only made 40 mill off 25 mill budget how can it be considered a hit already we have to wait if it make more. what do u think of it best picture chance best supporting actress chance and chance for Costner to snag best supporting actor

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    • You have to know by now that I don’t have any thoughts on Oscars at this point. It’s going to a success. People like it. We’ll see about awards when they give them out.

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  31. but xxx sequel is coming out it could end up dropping big lots of movie do good first weeks then drop big time

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  32. patriot day scored a good cinemascore rating and it not doing do well now

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    • I don’t know how it stacks up but Patriot’s Day didn’t catch on. Hidden Figures did. Audiences will keep coming. I promise, it will do fine. It may get some nominations and may even win. We’ll see what happens when it happens.

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  33. I assume given mark bankability and the fact hes pretty consistent the movie would be a huge hit, I also assumed live by night which is also not doing well so would do well because ben last movie he directed and acted in argo and town where hits

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  34. looks like your right hidden is a hit not an official comeback but ill call it a win since he attached his name to a hit. for a while I thought he would end up like nic cage lol

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  35. karl is obviously ben Affleck fan boy lol cant admit his movie is bombing

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  36. lol its hard to tell on the internet.variety has kevin as front runner for best supporting actor but I think he will get snubbed. the movie has better chance for getting best picture nom even best supporting act but not nod for kevin

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  37. Why Hollywood won’t cast Dane Cook anymore

    http://www.looper.com/37880/hollywood-wont-cast-dane-cook-anymore/

    His turn to drama didn’t pan out

    While Dan in Real Life was a modest success, critics singled out Steve Carell’s lead role over Cook’s supporting turn. And his role opposite Kevin Costner in the serial killer flick Mr. Brooks didn’t exactly wow critics either, with Stereogum saying that Cook’s performance as an unhinged photographer was “admittedly funnier than any of his comedic performances.”

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  38. hidden is set to make over 80 mill this sunday it is set to reach 100 mill mark next month

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