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Kevin Costner Reveals His Reason for Directing Dances With Wolves

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Before Yellowstone, the Western film or TV show most associated with Kevin Costner was Dances With Wolves. The 1990 film won seven Oscars, including Best Director for Costner and Best Picture, notably beating out Martin Scorsese and Goodfellas. However, Costner never intended to direct the film.


Why Did Kevin Costner Direct Dances With Wolves?

In an interview with Deadline, Costner spoke about his experience on Dances With Wolves and how he first asked multiple directors to helm his passion project. Costner revealed how the project was compared to Heaven’s Gate, Michael Cimino’s 1980 western that was considered one of the worst films ever made upon its release.

“I know when I was making Dances with Wolves, they were calling it ‘Kevin’s Gate,’ even though they didn’t know that I put all my money into this thing,” Costner said. “I actually asked three other directors to direct it before me.”

Costner further explained how each director wanted to remove certain aspects of the film, including a crucial Civil War sequence. This forced Costner to direct the film since he did not want to “leave anything out.” The gamble paid off as Dances With Wolves would become the fourth-highest-grossing film of 1990 with $424 million worldwide.

“They each had kind of very pronounced ideas about what they wouldn’t leave in the movie. They’re very well-known directors,” Costner said. “One said I should get rid of the Civil War sequence and start with them out there in the middle of nowhere. Another said, ‘The white girl, it’s a cliché.’ Well, it wasn’t a cliché. In the West, slaves were traded. They were very valuable in the commerce of the West. I finally directed it by default. What I knew was, I wasn’t as good as any of those other directors. But I wasn’t gonna leave anything out.”

Costner is working on his next passion project, Horizon, a two-part Western movie in which he will write, direct, and star. The Oscar winner recently made headlines after announcing he was leaving Yellowstone after the fifth season. However, Paramount decided to end the show with the final episodes of season 5 set to air in November. It is unknown how involved Costner will be in the remaining episodes.