Kevin Michael Costner was born the son of a ditch-digger in Southern California, his unsettled upbringing apparently making him fall in love with American landscape.
The young Costner wrote poetry, sang in a Baptist choir, excelled at baseball and built his own canoe. Attending California State University at Fullerton in 1973, Costner married and drifted, but after a meeting with Richard Burton on a plane flight, he decided to pursue an acting career.
Taking his wife to LA, he worked as a truck-driver and tour-guide, seeking acting work. Having appeared in 'Malibu Hot Summer' in 1974, and seeking better work, he took bit-parts, before turning down the lead in 'War Games' for a role in Lawrence Kasdan’s 'The Big Chill'.
When his part was cut, Kasdan cast him again in the Western, 'Silverado', and Costner became a star. In 'The Untouchables', 'No Way Out' and the baseball films, 'Bull Durham' and 'Ray Kinsella' and 'Field of Dreams', Costner carved out his niche as an upstanding hero.
Convinced by his own moral force, he directed and starred in 'Dances With Wolves' in 1991, which was hugely successful commercially and garnered critical acclaim. He picked up two Academy Awards for best picture and best director and secured a host of other accolades and nominations including a Golden Globe and a Bafta.
After 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves', Costner starred in Oliver Stone's 'JFK', which led to a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor nomination. He followed this with 'The Bodyguard', a box office hit that saw him team up with musician Whitney Houston. Despite not being very popular with critics, the film grossed more than $410 million globally, making it the second highest-grossing movie of 1992 worldwide.
However, playing against type in 'A Perfect World' and 'Wyatt Earp', he found little commercial success. Costner then embarked upon 'Waterworld', a grotesquely expensive post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure, complete with a Dennis Hopper villain. A huge flop, Costner followed it with the subtle hit 'Tin Cup', before making another huge error in directing and starring in another post-apocalyptic fable, 'The Postman' (1997).
Knocked, Costner retreated to films such as 'For the Love of the Game' and '3000 Miles to Graceland', before revisiting JFK waters with the well-received 'Thirteen Days' Cuban missile crisis drama. Critics loved the tense and near-realistic political production, but audiences thought otherwise as the movie was a commercial flop, returning only $33 million of its $80 million budget. Some solace came out of 2003 western 'Open Range', which Costner directed, as it was a modest success.
Nearly 15 years after he won any major award, Costner found success with 2005's 'The Upside of Anger', which earned him the San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor. 'Rumor Has It' saw him try his hand at comedy when he teamed up with Jennifer Aniston, Mark Ruffalo, Richard Jenkins and Mena Suvari for the 2005 flick. Over the next few years he appeared in 'The Guardian', 'Mr Brooks', 'Swing Vote', 'The New Daughter' and 2010's 'The Company Men'.
His latest roles were in 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit' (2013), '3 Days To Kill' (2014) and 'Draft Day' (2014).
With the encouragement of his wife Christine Baumgartner, whom he wedded in 2004, Costner embarked on a country music career. His band Kevin Costner & Modern West went on a worldwide tour in 2007 followed by studio albums 'Untold Truths' in 2008 and 'Turn It On' in 2010.