US film star who has gone on to direct and produce large-budget films.
Costner was born in Compton, Los Angeles, and studied at California State University. His career in the cinema began with inauspicious supporting roles, unreleased films, and box-office flops. The comedy western Silverado (1985), which proved a turning point, was followed by the leading part of Eliot Ness in Brian De Palma's highly successful The Untouchables (1987). Costner's status as an action-man star was confirmed by performances in the thriller No Way Out (1987) and the baseball sagas Bull Durham (1988) and Field of Dreams (1989). In 1990 he reached a peak in Hollywood by producing, directing, and starring in the epic Dances with Wolves, extolling the Native American way of life, which won seven Oscars, including those for best director and best film.
Costner sustained this triumph with commercially successful reworkings of such well-worn themes as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), J.F.K. (1991), and Wyatt Earp (1994). Waterworld (1995), an ecological-holocaust fantasy, ran into technical problems, which caused the budget to exceed $200 million – against expectations, however, it still managed to return a decent profit. The Postman (1998), a postnuclear holocaust story with heavy moral trappings, proved one of Hollywood's worst ever flops.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).