From "Dances with Wolves" to "The Untouchables" to "JFK," one simply needs to watch Costner's filmography to capture the essence of America and understand its past. Let's face it, the man stars in Westerns and baseball-related movies like he's contractually obligated.
It all started over 30 years ago, when Costner got his first break in Lawrence Kasdan's "The Big Chill" and, while his part was eventually cut, the director didn't forget him. After getting cast in Kasdan's next project, "Silverado" -- a Western, of course -- the actor's career took off and helped make him the international talent he is today.
Even if you're familiar with Costner's work, there's still some mystery about the well-established actor. From his surreal encounter with Richard Burton to his musical endeavors, here are 17 things you probably don't know about Kevin Costner.
1. Costner's father was a ditch digger and eventually an electric line servicer for Southern California Edison, careers that forced his family to move often during his childhood.
2. Despite his undoubtedly successful career, Costner has been nominated for 16 Razzie Awards. No publicity is bad publicity? Regardless of these dubious honors, the talented filmmaker won the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for "Dances with Wolves" (1990), for which he was also nominated for Best Actor.
3. While trying to break into Hollywood as an actor, he gave bus tours to stars' Los Angeles homes. Now, that tour probably stops at his house.
4. While at Cal State Fullerton studying business, Costner began taking acting lessons five nights a week.
5. After marrying his college sweetheart and taking a marketing job in Orange County, Costner randomly met legendary actor Richard Burton on a return flight from his honeymoon in Mexico. After Costner explained his dream to be an actor, Burton told him not to hold back if acting was what he truly wanted. It seems sometimes the stars do align!
6. When Costner graduated high school, the actor was surprisingly only 5' 2" despite eventually growing to be 6' 1". He's acknowledge he's still never gotten over being short.
7. Shockingly, Costner was also a three-sport varsity athlete before his growth spurts. His love for sports can be seen with roles in such films as "Bull Durham" and "For Love of the Game."
8. His favorite genre is the Western and he owns a 165 acre ranch outside of Aspen. A man after my own heart!
9. He announced Major League Baseball's All Century Team at the 1999 All Star game at Fenway Park.
10. "Air Force One" (1997) was written specifically for Costner, who even helped to develop the film, but he had to pass due to work delays with his own directorial project "The Postman" (1997). The actor called up Harrison Ford personally to offer him the now iconic role. Interestingly enough, Costner got both the lead roles in films "Dragonfly" (2002) and "JFK" (1991) as a result of Harrison Ford turning down the parts. "Air Force One" became one of the highest grossing films of 1997, while "The Postman" was a commercial and critical failure, but it seems all's well that ends well.
11. Costner has seven children with three separate women. Costner and his first wife, Cindy Costner, had three children together. After their divorce, he had a son with girlfriend Bridget Rooney, and later got remarried to Christine Baumgartner, with whom he also has three children.
12. He reportedly turned down a role in "Platoon" (1986) because he felt it portrayed American soldiers negatively. His older brother was a Vietnam veteran and he didn't want to insult him.
13. He is the lead singer of the country/rock band "Kevin Costner and Modern West." In 2007, the group went on a worldwide tour and had sold out shows in Istanbul and Rome, leaving little doubt the actor is truly an international star.
14. Costner is a skilled equestrian and does his own riding in all his films, including the memorable buffalo hunt scene in "Dances With Wolves" in which the actor rides bareback and, at one point, without holding the reins.
15. His role in "Bull Durham" (1988) was originally written for Kurt Russell.
16. Two of the domesticated buffalo used in Costner's iconic "Dances With Wolves" were actually borrowed from legendary musician Neil Young. Perhaps ironically, Young was in the band "Buffalo Springfield" back in the '60s.
17. Formerly a registered Republican, Costner is friendly with the Bush family and has golfed with both President George Bush and President Ronald Reagan several times in the early 1990s. He has since registered Independent and even backed President Bill Clinton in the Presidential Race.
[Sources: Wikipedia, IMDb]