Kevin Costner

Why Do People Hate Kevin Costner?

Kevin Costner is an American actor, director and producer who has starred in many popular films throughout his decades-long career. Some of his most well-known movies include Dances with Wolves, The Bodyguard, Field of Dreams and Waterworld.

While Costner has found great success in Hollywood and won multiple Academy Awards, he has also garnered a fair share of criticism and disdain from some audiences over the years. Below we’ll explore some of the main reasons why certain people dislike Kevin Costner.

Common Critiques of Kevin Costner

One of the most common critiques leveled at Costner is that he comes across as egotistical or arrogant at times. Some point to examples of him clashing with directors over creative differences, turning down big roles because he refused to take a pay cut, or purportedly being difficult to work with on set.

Costner has cultivated a reputation for being stubborn and insisting on having a lot of creative control over projects he stars in or directs. While confidence and vision can be virtues for an actor, some feel Costner takes it too far into ego-driven territory.

Perception That He Plays the Same Character

Another frequent criticism of Costner is that he essentially plays variations of the same character in many of his movies – usually a stoic, heroic everyman figure. From Eliot Ness in The Untouchables to the title role in Robin Hood:

Prince of Thieves, Costner has become known for a certain style of understated, masculine performance that some say lacks range and versatility. While he may disagree with the assertion, many believe Costner struggles to disappear into radically different characters and tends to rely on similar character traits and dialects.

Box Office Flops and Failures

Costner has undoubtedly experienced his share of box office bombs over his long career. Misfires like Waterworld, The Postman, and Wyatt Earp all proved critically and commercially disappointing despite large budgets and heavy promotion.

While any actor will have their share of box office flops, Costner’s disproportionately high budgets and occasional directorial missteps like Waterworld stand out. The huge money lost on some of these films has caused many to see Costner’s judgment as shaky and undeserving of such resources.

Perceived Political Views

Costner’s personal political views and affiliation have also stirred up some backlash from portions of the public at times. His convention speech in support of Barack Obama led some conservatives to reject his work, while his more recent comments expressing sympathy for the plight of Native Americans have caused some friction as well.

While celebrities have every right to express their beliefs, those beliefs inevitably alienate segments of the audience who disagree. Costner’s outspokenness has turned off some fans over the years.

Overexposure Backlash

Like any actor who reaches great heights of fame, Costner has faced some inevitable backlash due to overexposure. After the massive success of films like The Untouchables, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Dances with Wolves and Robin Hood in the late 80s/early 90s, Costner was absolutely everywhere.

This level of fame and ubiquity bred a sense of fatigue and resentment among some who simply grew tired of seeing his face. His decline in popularity in the late 90s mirrored this general public overexposure backlash.

Defense of Kevin Costner Against Critiques

However, while these complaints about Kevin Costner contain some elements of truth, many would argue the criticisms are overblown or fail to recognize some of Costner’s talents. A defense of Costner might highlight:

Extremely Dedicated to His Craft

While sometimes interpreted as arrogance, Costner’s stubbornness and intense focus could also be seen as admirable dedication to his art.

He cares deeply about the quality of his films and takes the craft of acting seriously. Not everyone has the vision and strength of conviction necessary to helm passion projects like Dances with Wolves.

Stoicism is a Unique Strength

Rather than a repetitive weakness, his stoic style allows him to excel in roles of quiet authority – from baseball manager to FBI agent to soldier. Not every great actor needs immense transformations to prove their talent. Costner’s grounded gravitas works for many leadership figures he portrays exceptionally well.

Talented Behind the Camera Too

Criticizing just Costner’s acting ignores his other talents like directing. Movies he directed like Dances with Wolves and Open Range show his creative vision, earning high praise. Even a notorious boondoggle like Waterworld featured incredible sets and production design stemming from Costner’s ambitious eye.

Appeals to Underserved Audiences

Costner has brought uplifting, heartland-style films to underserved audiences in the American heartland. Movies like Field of Dreams, Bull Durham and For Love of the Game combine baseball and nostalgia in ways that deeply resonate. Costner’s earnest, traditional style has wide appeal.

Hits Than Misses

While some box office failures like Waterworld stand out, Costner has actually led plenty of commercial hits over the years like The Bodyguard. Even his lesser films rarely lose money. And many of his “flops” were noble risks like passion project The Postman. His record features far more hits than misses.

Reasons Behind Kevin Costner Dislike

While opinions on Costner vary greatly, we can boil down the key reasons behind his detractors to a few main factors:

Perception of Arrogance

Costner’s tendency to clash with directors, demand high salaries, and exert strong creative control can rub many the wrong way. Right or wrong, he elicits a reputation for arrogance.

Repetitive Acting Style

Fair or not, his subdued acting approach and preference for heroic everyman roles lead some to see his performances as one-note and repetitive.

Big Budget Box Office Busts

Colossal box office bombs like Waterworld and The Postman stand out as black marks on his record, despite other successes.

Political Views and Outspokenness

Costner’s openness about his more liberal leanings alienates some conservative fans, as with any outspoken celebrity.

Overexposure Backlash

His overwhelming ubiquity and fame in the late 80s/early 90s bred inevitable fatigue and resentment from overexposure.

Factors That Led to Kevin Costner’s Decline in Popularity

Kevin Costner’s career trajectory peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Some key factors that led to his decline in popularity since that period include:

Several Big Budget Flops

Movies like Waterworld and The Postman lost large sums of money, damaging his bankability.

MovieBudgetBox Office
Waterworld$175 million$264 million
The Postman$80 million$17.5 million

Perception He Was Overpaid

Costner’s $14 million salary for Waterworld caused many to see him as overvalued and overpaid.

Repetitive Acting Style

His stoic, measured acting approach started to feel one-note to some audiences craving more versatility.

Failure to Evolve With the Times

Costner struggled to adapt his style and brand of filmmaking to evolving audience tastes through the 1990s and 2000s.

Younger Stars Eclipsed Him

A new generation of leading men like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Leonardo DiCaprio overshadowed Costner.

Overexposure Backlash

After being omnipresent in the early 90s, people inevitably grew tired of seeing Costner constantly.

Off-Screen Reputation

Rumors of being difficult to work with and arrogant took a toll on his public image.

All these factors combined to diminish Costner’s star power notably through the late 90s and 2000s. However, he has rebounded somewhat in recent years with well-received performances in shows like Yellowstone.

Kevin Costner’s Acting Style and Filmmaking Approach

Kevin Costner developed a distinctive acting style and filmmaking approach that defined much of his career:

Understated, Stoic Acting

Costner typically plays characters seriously with an undercurrent of emotion rather than overt displays. His performance style is grounded, humble, and quietly authoritative.

Traditional Heroic Leads

He gravitated frequently towards playing old-fashioned heroic leading men like cops, soldiers, baseball players, and cowboys. Costner excels at capturing traditional American male archetypes.

Sweeping Epics and Dramas

As a director, Costner favors sprawling epics and dramas on grand scales about American history or culture like Dances with Wolves and Open Range.


Kevin Costner’s long career reveals an actor/filmmaker who has never been afraid to take big risks and follow his own creative vision. For fans, his earnest, heartland-style films represent compelling slices of Americana and masculinity.

But to critics, his acting can feel one-note, while failed vanity projects like Waterworld seem symptomatic of unchecked ego. The truth likely rests somewhere in between – Costner is an ambitious, hard-working artist whose flaws sometimes overshadow his talent.

While his box office sway has waned since his early 90s peak, Costner’s stubborn dedication to his craft remains consistent. He has given us some indelible American films and characters, even if the Costner style is not always to everyone’s taste. Love him or hate him, Costner has always done it his own way.


What was Kevin Costner’s breakout role?

Costner’s big breakout role came in 1987 when he starred as Eliot Ness in The Untouchables. His charismatic supporting performance caught Hollywood’s attention and set his career in motion.

What was Kevin Costner’s directorial debut?

Costner made his directorial debut in 1990 with the hugely successful Western epic Dances with Wolves. It ended up winning 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director for Costner.

How much did Kevin Costner get paid for Waterworld?

Costner received a salary of $14 million for starring in and producing the notoriously expensive box office flop Waterworld. This excessive pay was seen as a symbol of Hollywood excess in the 1990s.

What recent roles has Kevin Costner played?

In recent years, Costner has experienced a career resurgence playing John Dutton on the hit show Yellowstone. He also appeared in 2021’s Let Him Go and 2022’s Horizon.

What is Kevin Costner’s highest grossing film?

Costner’s highest grossing film is the 1992 blockbuster The Bodyguard which made over $400 million globally. It marked one of his most successful and iconic roles at the peak of his career.

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