In the last few months Kevin Costner has really been taking home the hardware for his role in the critically acclaimed and massively popular History Channel miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys,” which aired last May.
Costner has been honored by the Emmy Awards, Golden Globe Awards and on Sunday night (Jan. 27) the Screen Actors Guild Awards for outstanding lead performance by an actor in a made for TV movie or miniseries for his role as “Devil Anse” Hatfield, the patriarch of the Hatfield clan in the film about the longstanding backwoods feud between the two families that began just after the Civil War and lasted into the late 1800s.
Costner is no stranger to awards glory, he won Oscars for both best picture and best director for his Western “Dances with Wolves” in 1990, but until “Hatfields & McCoys” had never won a major acting award (just including Academy Awards, Golden Globes, SAG Awards and Emmy Awards).
In fact, Costner has long had a reputation among movie audiences and in pop culture lore as a bad actor. This is something that likely won’t go away all of a sudden that he’s won a string of major acting awards, especially because he’s done so with a made for TV miniseries, which still carries somewhat of a negative connotation among some. However, I think it is time to put to bed the “myth” that Costner is a bad actor, which is something that’s always sat negatively with me.
I’ll admit it; I’m a Kevin Costner fan. Costner is good at playing very congenial and down to earth characters which makes him exceedingly likable in movies like “Field of Dreams” and “Bull Durham.” His likability certainly doesn’t mean he’s the greatest actor in the world (which few, if any, would ever try to argue), but it does go a long way in liking his characters and movies and if you like an actor’s characters and movies then he can’t be doing a bad job. Costner, while good at the “aw shucks” good guy roles, can also play determined bulldogs when he needs to, as he does in a film like Oliver Stone’s great 1991 conspiracy theory movie on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, “JFK,” when Costner plays a tenacious district attorney who doesn’t believe Kennedy was killed by a lone assassin. His performance as the lead Hatfield in “Hatfields & McCoys” is a prime example of this determined character. So, Costner, unlike some actors out there, is more than just a one-note actor.
So, how did Kevin Costner get this reputation for being such a horrible actor?
That’s actually pretty easy to determine. He’s done some absolutely horrible movies, among the most notable being “Waterworld” and “The Postman,” both of which he also directed. Now, I’ve avoided these films, as I tend to do with most negatively reviewed and poorly received films, so I can’t judge them for myself, but I can say who out there hasn’t done bad or even incredibly bad movies?
Robert De Niro, considered by some as the greatest actor of all time, was in the movie version of “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.” Multiple time Oscar winner Al Pacino has been in such stinkers as “Jack and Jill,” where he played the love interest of Adam Sandler in drag. Take a look at the filmographies of acting greats like Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, etc. they’ve all done incredibly bad movies in their careers. Costner’s bad movies have unfortunately taken on an epically bad status, because not only where they bad, but they had huge budgets and ended up bombs, which leads to the worse than it sounds “box office failure” tag.
Costner has had the lead role or a lead role in many of my favorite movies of the last 25 years: “Field of Dreams,” “JFK,” “Dances with Wolves” and “Bull Durham.” Yes, it’s been over 20 years since any of those movies hit the theatres, but that doesn’t mean Costner has lost a step, just as De Niro’s relatively lackluster decade of the ‘00s doesn’t mean he’s lost a step. Costner’s done his share of good to great movies and he’s done his share of bad to really bad movies. However, he’s done too many good movies and had too many good performances to have this “bad actor” tag placed upon him. He’s a good actor, and now, he’s got plenty of the hardware to prove it.
You can purchase the History Channel’s complete “Hatfields & McCoys” miniseries: HERE