Inside Film

Has Kevin Costner ever recovered from 1995 and Waterworld?

The 68-year-old actor-director, whose shock decison to quit ‘Yellowstone’ has left fans reeling, remains an enigmatic and often puzzling figure, says Geoffrey Macnab

Friday 15 September 2023 09:08 BST
Kevin Costner quit ‘Yellowstone’ in May – his career choices are causing controversy
Kevin Costner quit ‘Yellowstone’ in May – his career choices are causing controversy (Alamy)

From the outside, walking away from Yellowstone after winning a Golden Globe looks like a crazy decision. But this is what Kevin Costner has done. The role as Montana rancher John Dutton in Taylor Sheridan’s hit TV series didn’t exactly rescue his career, but it put him back on the A-list. Now, he is quitting the show and fans are up in arms.

The Oscar-winner was being offered a reported $12m (£9.61m) fee for season five (part of which he had already shot) and an equal amount for two further seasons. When he recently broke his silence about his shock departure from the show – despite its rave reviews – his answers, given in court during his divorce case, earlier this month, weren’t especially illuminating. He referred obliquely to “issues about creative” and talked about a “logjam” – but he didn’t seem in any mood to overturn his decision.

The ornery actor, now a major powerbroker in Hollywood, has certainly travelled a long way since that toe-curling moment in 1990 when, as a shuffling, awkward and callow figure, he went backstage to meet pop star Madonna during her Blond Ambition world tour. Costner was wearing spectacles and had a Chris Waddle-style mullet, presumably because he had just been starring in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991). He told Madonna, then at the zenith of her fame, that her performance was “neat…really neat”. The second he turned his back, she made a vomiting gesture. “Neat, anybody who says my show is neat has to go,” she murmured in contempt as the cowboy star retreated.

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