Kevin Costner got his big break in the seminal ’80s film The Big Chi—oh, wait. He played the dead guy, the reason the film’s other characters (like fellow up-and-comers Kevin Kline and William Hurt) were chilling in the first place; Costner’s scenes didn’t make the final cut. But he ultimately outpaced most of his peers at the box office, wooing moviegoers and critics alike with instant classics like The Untouchables, Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. By the time his own film project, Dances with Wolves, swept the 1990 Oscars, winning him credibility on both sides of the camera, Costner could have made a few Waterworlds and still been ahead of the pack. See the highs and the lows of Costner’s film career—including his current releases, Black or White and McFarland, USA—in our photo gallery.