How A Near-Death Experience Led Kevin Costner To Acting

Kevin Costner & Modern West / Facebook

Kevin Costner is arguably one of the most well-known names in entertainment. Movies, television, theater, music….he’s done it all. But, his career almost never happened due to a horrifying mishap while the then-unknown Costner was on his way to his first audition.

Unlike many actors, Costner didn’t catch the acting bug until he was a senior in college and decided to audition for a play on a whim. In a 2015 interview with Tim Ferriss, Costner relived the moment he decided that he wanted to give acting a try.

Kevin was sitting in a university night class when he opened the school’s newspaper to find casting call for Rumpelstiltskin.

“I just thought audition; I’d like to try that. I closed that newspaper; I listened to the person drone on,” Costner said. “But, what I knew at that moment, I was going to that audition the next day.”

Kevin Costner/
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Costner was on his way to the audition, driving down the 55 freeway in Orange County, California, in his Datsun pickup when the accelerator broke and went to the floor. “All of a sudden, I saw the brake lights up ahead…and my speedometer is going from 60 to 70 to 80, and it’s not slowing down. And, I’m probably going to hit those people at about 90 miles per hour and kill them, kill myself.”

In a last-ditch effort to stop his truck, Costner “threw the clutch in.  There was never such a terrible whine but I thought; oh, my God, it did engage. But the engine was revving. I was able to turn the key off and I coasted to a stop, pulled over into the emergency lane, and didn’t kill anybody.”

The young Costner abandoned his truck on the side of the highway and hitchhiked to the audition. Kevin didn’t get the part in Rumpelstiltskin, but for the first time discovered that he had a passion for something that he wanted to pursue. He began taking night classes at UCLA. “I took two classes in film financing, film budgeting. I showed up for the first day of class. I had already read the book, the entire book.”

And, the rest is history, as they say. Kevin Costner went on to become one of the most beloved and well known actors of our time with a career spanning more than four decades. He has starred in iconic films such as “Dances With Wolves,” “Field of Dreams,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” “The Bodyguard,” and more, as well as television shows such as “Hatfields & McCoys” and “Yellowstone.”

Listen to Kevin Costner’s full interview with Tim Ferriss here.

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