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Kevin Costner's Best Co-Stars Ranked

In his lengthy career, Kevin Costner has made over 50 feature films and had starring roles in a few major television series. He's headlined everything from big-budget blockbuster action films to indie rom-coms. He's acted opposite award-winning actresses, legendary icons, and appeared as part of star-studded ensembles with everyone in between. From his roles in Westerns like "Silverado" and "Wyatt Earp" to his part in the hit drama "Yellowstone," he's often surrounded by ultra-talented actors who help push him to his best performances.

Whether one of his biggest films or his smallest, there's no shortage of major Tinseltown talent in Costner's films, and ironically, it's in some of his lesser-known movies that he's appeared alongside some of the biggest names. Sometimes it's an up-and-coming star who became an A-lister after appearing alongside him, other times it was a legendary icon in a supporting role, but Kevin Costner has been seen alongside some serious screen stars. Here are some of the best.

Hailee Steinfeld

The star of "Transformers: Bumblebee," Hailee Steinfeld came to fame off the back of her Oscar-nominated performance in the 2010 Coen Brothers film "True Grit" alongside A-listers like Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin. But four years after the Western remake, Steinfeld would join Kevin Costner in the action thriller "3 Days To Kill." Though a largely forgettable paint-by-numbers action flick that fared poorly at the box office, it gave Costner a chance to play opposite an up-and-coming Hollywood starlet.

In the film, Costner takes on the role of a former CIA agent facing a terminal illness who has one last chance to reconnect with his resentful daughter. Steinfeld plays the teenager who never understood her father's career, but grows closer after his retirement. Though reviews were poor and audiences largely uninterested, it marked an important moment in Steinfeld's career, providing her with the opportunity to work alongside a Hollywood legend like Costner. With Steinfeld now a part of the MCU in Marvel's "Hawkeye," Costner can look back at this box office bomb and take solace that it was a stepping stone in Steinfeld's rise to becoming Hollywood's latest "it girl."

Bill Paxton

Costner may be one of Hollywood's most underrated leading men, having starred in a number of iconic films that were rarely chart-toppers. By contrast, actor Bill Paxton may be one of Hollywood's most underrated supporting actors, with key roles in landmark movies like "Aliens," "Twister," and "Apollo 13." But in 2012, the pair of under-appreciated stars got together to co-star as Western foes in AMC's mega mini-series event, "Hatfield & McCoys." Costner had made a career as a cowboy, and Paxton was no stranger to them either, having had roles in "Frank & Jesse" and "Tombstone." In each show, he played the older brother of a famous gunslinger: Frank James (kin of Jesse) in the former and Morgan Earp (brother of Wyatt, who Costner ironically played the same year) in the latter. 

In "Hatfield & McCoys," Paxton took the role of Randolph McCoy, bitter rival to Costner's William Anderson Hatfield, who engaged in a violent family feud that lasted three decades, before, during, and after America's Civil War. The three-part series was widely praised by audiences and critics. It debuted to record ratings for the network, leading to a rash of similar Western shows that included the Bill Paxton-led "Texas Rising" for A&E three years later.

James Earl Jones

Rising to stardom for his starring role in "The Great White Hope" before taking a lead role in the broadcast television miniseries "Roots," James Earl Jones is probably best known as the voice of Darth Vader in "Star Wars" across multiple films and television episodes. Other memorable roles include Mufasa in "The Lion King" and James Greer in both of Harrison Ford's Jack Ryan films. But he may be just as well known to '80s kids for his part in the Kevin Costner baseball drama "Field of Dreams." The heartwarming story of a Midwestern farmer who begins receiving visions of a baseball park in his isolated cornfield, Jones played author Terence Mann, whose books are the subject of a local book-burning campaign. The two realize they are both having similar dreams, and strike up a unique friendship as they work to make their visions a reality.

Jones also played an important role in another: 1994's "The Sandlot," but it was "Field of Dreams" that would go on to become one of the most famous sports movies ever made. It became so connected to the sport that it even inspired Major League Baseball to stage an annual "Field of Dreams" game during the regular season.

Laura Dern

Most audiences probably recognize Laura Dern from her role in the Stephen Spielberg blockbuster "Jurassic Park," but her career is a long and award-winning one that stretches far past the trailblazing CGI dinosaur adventure. Prior to her turn as Dr. Ellie Sattler, she starred in well-known classics like "Mask" and was a David Lynch favorite, appearing in both "Wild at Heart" and "Blue Velvet." In the years since, she's had major roles in "The Founder," "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," and re-teamed with David Lynch for "Inland Empire" and "Twin Peaks: The Return." 

But it was in the same year she appeared in "Jurassic Park" she co-starred with Kevin Costner in the lesser-seen "A Perfect World" about an escaped convict named Butch Hanes (Costner) who takes a young boy hostage and bonds with him while on the run from the authorities. Dern played Sally Gerber, a skilled criminologist who aided law enforcement in the hunt for Hanes. Though well-received, the movie proved forgettable. Nevertheless, it was packed with strong performances from its cast (including another lower down on this list).

Gene Hackman

Nominated for his first Academy Award way back in 1967 for his supporting performance as Buck Barrow in Arthur Penn's "Bonnie & Clyde," Gene Hackman has enjoyed a long and prolific career. He's arguably best known for appearing in all four "Superman" movies from 1978 to 1987 as Lex Luthor, the diabolical supervillain and arch-nemesis who matched wits with Christopher Reeve's Man of Steel. Hackman excelled elsewhere in roles as tough, gruff figures, be they hero or villain. Often playing law enforcement types, he's been in numerous Hollywood classics like "The French Connection," "Night Moves," "The Conversation," and "A Bridge Too Far" and was seen as an elder statesman of Tinseltown by the late 1980s. 

It was in the latter half of that decade that Hackman would join Kevin Costner in the forgotten neo-noir political thriller "No Way Out." Costner played U.S. Naval Lieutenant Commander Tom Farrell, who has an affair with a woman attached to his commanding officer, played by Hackman. When the woman is found dead, Farrell leads the investigation, which threatens to expose dangerous secrets, before he too becomes a suspect. The film garnered stellar reviews, with Roger Ebert calling it "labyrinthine and genius" and "a superior example of the genre."

Kurt Russell

He's never had a long-running blockbuster franchise, but Kurt Russell has become a superstar thanks to his endless charm as the star of '80s favorites like John Carpenter classics "The Thing," "Escape From New York," and "Big Trouble In Little China." In 1993, Russell took Kevin Costner on head-to-head in dueling Westerns when they both played the role of Wyatt Earp, with Russell in "Tombstone" and Costner in "Wyatt Earp." In 2001, the two would put the rivalry behind them by co-starring together in the heist movie "3000 Miles to Graceland."

The offbeat crime comedy featured the star duo as a pair of con men who team up to stage a daring robbery of the Riviera Casino in Las Vegas in the midst of a massive convention of Elvis impersonators. Though it was a bomb in every sense — receiving scathing reviews and barely matching a third of its production budget at the ticket counter — "3000 Miles to Graceland" was a chance for two of Hollywood's best unsung leading men to share the screen. Interestingly, in the aftermath of the film's release, it was rumored that each star was offered the chance to cut the film to their own liking, reportedly sparking a feud that Russell would eventually deny, according to "Entertainment Weekly."

Gary Oldman

Rarely a leading man, Gary Oldman has made a career out of playing some of the most iconic villains and supporting characters, from Commissioner Gordon in Christopher Nolan's "Batman" trilogy to the Count himself in Francis Ford Coppola's "Dracula." In 1991, he took on the infamous role of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in Oliver Stone's "JFK," in which Kevin Costner starred as lead investigator Jim Garrison. They'd never share a scene together in the film, but each made their mark on the movie, even if it was co-star Tommy Lee Jones who'd get the Oscar nom. Fast forward two and a half decades, and they shared the screen again in the action thriller "Criminal" — which also featured their old pal Tommy Lee Jones, alongside Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot.

Though the reception to the film was mixed, with Rotten Tomatoes' critical consensus knocking it for its generic nature, it was an assemblage of talent as strong as any film mentioned on this list. It was also worth it for the accompanying press tour for the movie that resulted in a number of joint interviews with the pair of stars, including an appearance on "Larry King Live!" where they discussed their lengthy careers. 

Whitney Houston

Superstar pop singer Whitney Houston was at one point the biggest name in entertainment. Houston got her start when she was still a teenager, with her early career as a fashion model landing her features in magazines like "Cosmopolitan," "Glamour," and "Seventeen." By 1983, she was signed to Arista Records, and in 1985 released her self-titled debut album, which won her a Grammy for the single "Saving All My Love for You." In her musical career, she netted herself six total Grammys. She was posthumously inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall Of Fame in 2020. Whitney Houston shared the screen with Kevin Costner in her debut film, the 1992 romantic drama "The Bodyguard."

Though critically panned, audiences had a greater love for the film. Despite several Razzie nominations, the flick managed to amass a major box office haul. With Whitney Houston's star power in the leading role, she helped Costner deliver the second-best box office performance of his entire career in movies in which he starred.

Paul Newman

There are stars and then there are legends. Paul Newman is both. Winner of a Golden Globe in his first motion picture, the actor has the rare distinction of appearing in a host of award-winning films across seven decades. He was personally nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in many of them, with his first coming in 1959 and his last in 2002. Newman's list of credits is too long to name, but his lone Best Actor win came in the 1986 film "The Color of Money," a long-gestating sequel to his 1961 feature "The Hustler." 

Newman's work alongside Kevin Costner came in the form of the 1999 romantic drama "Message in a Bottle," where the pair played father and son. Though Costner would be nominated for a Golden Raspberry for Worst Actor in the film, and the movie itself proved unremarkable, it was Newman's third to last big-screen outing. Though one of many forgettable films on Costner's resume, it's one worth noting mostly thanks to Newman's starring role.

Chadwick Boseman

Just as Kevin Costner was known for playing cowboys, Boseman made a habit of playing real-life Black heroes: Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshall. His screen debut, however, was on the daytime soap opera "All My Children" in 2002, where he had a recurring role. He parlayed the part into numerous guest appearances on shows like "ER," "CSI: New York," "Cold Case," and "Justified." After memorable stints on "Lincoln Heights" and "Persons Unknown," he made the leap to the big screen in "The Kill Hole" alongside Billy Zane. A mere two years later, he played a star college football player waiting on the NFL draft in the 2014 drama "Draft Day," where Kevin Costner played the general manager of the Cleveland Browns.

Shortly after "Draft Day" hit theaters, it was announced Boseman would inhabit the role of T'Challa, the Black Panther, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, establishing him as a true A-list talent. A bright shining star whose life was tragically cut short by cancer, it's likely that his best days were still ahead of him. Despite his all-too-brief big-screen career, Boseman left his mark as one of the biggest and best stars of the 2010s.

Clint Eastwood

Known for his many cowboy roles, Costner may very well be thought of as a latter-day Clint Eastwood, who was his era's preeminent western hero. Star of early Spaghetti Westerns like "Fistful of Dollars," and "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" in the 1950s and 1960s, Eastwood matured into a brooding dramatic actor in subsequent decades. He starred in the "Dirty Harry" movies and other classic Westerns like "High Plains Drifter" and "The Outlaw Jose Wales" in the 1970s. In the 1980s, he became a bonafide action star with "Sudden Impact" and "Any Which Way You Can." 

The old cowboy Clint teamed with the up-and-coming Western star Kevin Costner in the 1993 film "A Perfect World," which Eastwood also directed. In the film, Eastwood played a modern-day cowboy: a Texas Ranger on the hunt for an escaped convict (Costner) who's taken a young boy hostage. Though not a big hit, Roger Ebert gave it four stars, noting how the film brought together "the leading icons of two generations of strong, silent American leading men." Collider called it the most underrated movie of Eastwood's robust career.

Morgan Freeman

Frank Darabont's "Shawshank Redemption" is often hailed as one of the greatest films ever made, and Costner has shared the screen with both stars of the film. In 1988, he'd acted as coach and mentor to Tim Robbins' "Nuke" in the baseball movie "Bull Durham." In 1991, Costner would memorably star alongside Morgan Freeman in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves." Playing a controversial version of Friar Tuck, Freeman portrayed a different kind of bandit: solemn, passionate, and full of sage advice. He may have played to a racist, stereotypical film trope, but he still provided another fine performance in a film that was brimming with talented actors.

Though already famous thanks to parts in "Driving Miss Daisy," "Glory," and Ken Burns' "Civil War," Freeman arguably became more famous in the decades since, thanks in no small part to his role in "The Shawshank Redemption." His memorable films since appearing alongside Costner have included "Unforgiven" (with Clint Eastwood), "Se7en," and the "Dark Knight Trilogy" (alongside Gary Oldman). He's set to appear next in "Muti" alongside Costner's "Yellowstone" co-star Cole Hauser.

Susan Sarandon

Oscar award-winning actress Susan Sarandon was a star long before Kevin Costner. Her career was mostly on television before she turned heads with her provocative performance in the eccentric comedy musical "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" opposite Tim Curry. A string of romantic comedies in the late '80s helped make her a superstar, including "The Witches of Eastwick" and the Kevin Costner-led "Bull Durham." In the film, Costner and co-star Tim Robbins play minor league baseball players — a veteran and a rookie respectively — who battle for the affections of local groupie Annie Savoy, played by Sarandon. It's one of the most-loved and best-reviewed baseball movies, a classic that ranks just behind Costner's "Field of Dreams."

Sarandon gave one of her best performances ever in 1991's "Thelma & Louise," where she and Geena Davis played a pair of best friends on the run from unsatisfying domestic lives and the police. Over the last few decades, she's had her pick of roles, appearing on the big screen in award-winners like "Dead Man Walking" and on the small screen on "ER," "30 Rock," and "Rick & Morty," among many others.

Robert De Niro

Across the last 50 years, there are few stars as big or as talented as the great Robert De Niro. De Niro has starred in nine films directed by Martin Scorsese, beginning with "Mean Streets" and "Taxi Driver" in the 1970s, all the way up to the Netflix original "The Irishman" in 2019 and the forthcoming "Killers of the Flower Moon." Early in his career, he was known as a tough street punk. By the 1980s, he began to get a reputation playing Mafia men thanks to his part in "The Godfather Part II" and the Kevin Costner-led 1987 noir drama "The Untouchables." Directed by Brian De Palma, "The Untouchables" told the story of Elliot Ness and his squad of famed crime fighters. The film became legendary thanks to its incredible cast.

In the film, Costner played the heroic Ness — seemingly Chicago's last honest cop — while De Niro deliciously played the original Scarface himself, Al Capone. Critics praised the performances in "The Untouchables," which today is seen as one of the best crime dramas of the '80s. After "The Untouchables," De Niro went on to play even more mobsters, including in "Goodfellas" and "Heat." 

Sean Connery

As we said, "The Untouchables" had a star-studded cast. Despite his iconic status, Robert De Niro wasn't even the biggest name in the film. That honor goes to former Bond actor Sean Connery. After his seven-film career as the iconic British super-spy James Bond, Connery's legendary status continued. His reputation as an actor of quality persisted despite a long string of hit-or-miss films like "Zardoz," "A Bridge Too Far," "The Great Train Robbery," and "Highlander." He joined the cast of "The Untouchables" as the inscrutable Sam Malone, a disillusioned ex-cop who recognizes Elliot Ness as a like-minded lawman and agrees to help hunt down kingpin Al Capone.

Following the film, Connery took the role of Dr. Jones, father to Indiana, in "Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade." The film made him famous with a new generation of young fans. He appear again alongside Costner for a brief uncredited role as King Richard the Lionheart in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," before retiring from acting a little more than a decade later.