Kevin Costner Called Whitney His One True Love – And Revealed A Deep Regret About Her Passing

Ahh, The Bodyguard. It’s one of those movies that hits us right in the feels. That connection between Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner is something else. But that could be because they were more than just friends off screen. Yep, their bond was so strong that Costner proclaimed his late co-star to be his “one true love.” And after Houston’s passing, the actor-director revealed that he’s haunted by one big regret about his relationship with the singer. Get out the tissues, too, as his words are just heartbreaking.

Speaking of heartbreaking, we couldn’t fail to mention “I Will Always Love You” – the iconic song that makes the movie’s tear-jerking final scene so emotional. But did you know it was actually Dolly Parton who first penned and recorded the track back in 1973? Her version hit the number one spot twice on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart – back in June 1974, then after a reworking in October 1982. However, Houston took the tune to even greater heights, as we know.

When Houston’s version of the classic was released towards the end of 1992, that also climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. There the song stayed put for a whopping 14 weeks, which at the time made it the longest number one run in chart history. And even though others have since matched or surpassed that feat, Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” remains among the biggest selling tracks in history.

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But we can probably chalk the song’s popularity up to The Bodyguard – for the most part, anyway. That film marked Houston’s first foray into acting. It was the first time she’d worked alongside Costner, too. And the pair struck up quite a strong friendship even after the cameras stopped rolling.

Despite her already phenomenal success as a recording artist, Houston was incredibly nervous about her acting debut. But the experienced Costner became both a confidante and muse, offering a proverbial hand to hold throughout the filming process. Then, during the shoot, the two of them realized they had far more in common than either of them may have expected.

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But it seems that Costner only realized the strength of his bond with Houston after the singer’s passing in 2012. And while the actor lamented that his co-star was his “one true love,” that realization also came with a profound regret – one that he has admitted would haunt him forever.

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Famously, Costner played the titular role in 1992’s The Bodyguard. Having once served as a Secret Service agent to the president, his character Frank Farmer is then employed to protect a famed R&B singer and actress. Houston’s character Rachel Marron is the target of a stalker — a crazed fan who has made noises about her murder.

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So, as Marron travels from concert to concert, Farmer is never far from her side. But the bodyguard struggles to come to terms with the fact he hadn’t been there to stop Ronald Reagan from being shot. That leads Farmer to adopt strict security regimes to protect his celebrity clients. And these don’t go down too well with the film’s leading lady.

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Farmer’s methods rub both Marron and her entourage up the wrong way. They come to regard the bodyguard’s presence as an impingement on the singer’s freedom. Farmer, on the other hand, has little time for clients who don’t respect his job. And tensions between Marron and her bodyguard run high right from the start of their professional relationship.

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Naturally, though, the pair find themselves in a situation where they can’t avoid each other. Marron opens up to Farmer, telling him that her status makes her appear far more headstrong than she really is. Then, as the singer warms to her minder, she introduces him to her inner circle, including her sister and son.

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Marron eventually learns to put her trust in Farmer, and they begin having an affair. But life sadly gets in the way, and their romance ends when the bodyguard’s duties for the singer conclude and he departs for his next job. And according to Costner’s memories of his relationship with Houston, the actors shared some similarities with the two characters they played.

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As an R&B singer, the role of Rachel Marron seems practically perfect for Houston. Funnily enough, though, the script was first intended for Motown diva Diana Ross as long ago as the mid-’70s. And when it was put to Houston nearly 20 years later, it’s fair to say that she was more than a little hesitant about taking it on.

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In a 1993 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Houston explained why. “I thought, ‘I’ll just get this little part somewhere, and I’ll work my way up,” she said. “And all of a sudden I get this script, and I said, ‘I don’t know. This is kind of… big.’ So I was scared.” A surprising admission, given that Houston was already a Grammy-winning recording artist.

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Coster seemed to remember Houston’s apprehension, too. Reading a eulogy at her funeral in February 2012, he said, “[Houston] was nervous and scared that she wasn’t good enough for the role. But I told her I would be with her every step of the way.” And by all appearances, the actor was true to his word.

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At the funeral, Costner told Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, why he had gotten on so well with her mom. “Your mother and I had a lot in common. I know many at this moment are thinking, ‘Really?’” This prompted laughs from the audience. “‘She’s a girl, you’re a boy. You’re white, she’s black. But our sister could really sing.’ So, what am I talking about? ‘Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, they don’t have anything in common at all.’ Well, you’d be wrong about that.”

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Houston and Costner’s childhoods were, in fact, remarkably similar. “We both grew up in a Baptist church,” Costner recalled. “My grandmother led the choir and played the piano.” And as well as having her own pop music career, Houston’s mother, Cissy, once led the New Hope Baptist Church choir. That was actually where Houston herself began singing. Perhaps this is why she was particularly interested in Costner’s memories.

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“The church was the center of our social life,” Costner said. “And [Houston] and I would laugh, knowing it was also the place where we could really get into big trouble – especially when you were allowed to sit with your friends and not your parents in the big church.” We can only assume, then, that both young churchgoers behaved in a way that was far from angelic.

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“I remember more than once being pulled from the pew for whispering and passing notes,“ Costner continued. “I don’t believe my feet ever hit the floor as my father hauled me outside in front of everyone. I believed even the preacher prayed for me.” And for one reason or another, the actor’s tales of youthful mischief resonated with Houston.

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Costner’s words continued to show why he and Houston had struck up such a strong friendship. “It was easy for us to laugh,” he said. “The church was what we knew. It was our private bond. I can see her in my own mind running around here as a skinny little girl knowing everyone, everyone’s business, knowing every inch of this place. I can also see her in trouble, too.” And he pictured how Houston may have used her “beautiful smile” to charm her way out of conflicts with her mom.

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But despite her enormous success, Houston was sadly plagued with personal problems later in life. There was the singer’s drug addiction, for instance, as well as her turbulent marriage to R&B singer Bobby Brown. But through it all, she and her co-star in The Bodyguard remained close friends. In fact, when things got really bad, those close to Houston even asked Costner if he’d be able to help.

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“There are some people that really love [Houston],” Costner told Anderson Cooper in April 2012. “And a couple of times during the last seven, eight years, [they] asked me, ‘Would I write her a letter?’ She would always be close to me, she would always be somebody I appreciated.” He obliged, of course, but his efforts were in vain.

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On February 11, 2012, Houston had been getting ready for a party before the Grammy Awards ceremony the following evening. But when the singer’s assistant entered her Beverly Hills hotel room at around 3:30 p.m. that afternoon, Houston was lying unconscious in the tub where she had been bathing. Tragically, paramedics pronounced her dead 20 minutes later. A coroner’s report later stated that she had drowned, although drugs and heart disease had apparently also contributed to the accident.

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The news of his friend’s death shook Costner. And even though the pair had remained close for 20 years after The Bodyguard, the depth of their connection had only become clear to the actor once she’d passed away. In a statement released in the wake of Houston’s death, Costner admitted, “She was my one true love.”

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“I still have ‘I Will Always Love You’ as my ringtone, and I count it as a badge of honor every time I get mocked for it,” Costner said. But the actor also revealed a heartbreaking regret over Houston’s death. And it’s one that he says will burden him for the rest of his life.

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“I let her down,” Costner believes. “I should have been there, and I wasn’t, and now for the rest of my life, I will have to live with that pain. I saved her then. I should have saved her now.” Here, the actor was talking about his character in The Bodyguard, who saves Rachel Marron from the stalker.

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In May 2012 Costner told Good Morning America, “[Houston] was a very important person to me, and the world has connected us in a way that we’ll never not be. I didn’t really get a full grasp of that until the lead-up to the funeral, where people somehow felt that it was important that I say something.”

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Houston’s funeral — affectionately dubbed a “homecoming” by her loved ones — was held on February 19, 2012. That ceremony took place at the very church in Newark, New Jersey, where the singer’s talents had first been discovered. And while Houston may have seemed very similar to her Bodyguard character to those on the outside, Costner’s words reveal that the pair were actually quite different.

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Yes, Houston and her screen alter ego are both award-winning global superstars. But whereas Marron occasionally comes across as conceited, there was a vulnerability to the real-life singer that many people didn’t get to see.

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Costner got to see it, though. And he traced Houston’s insecurities back to performing in church under her mom’s tutelage. The actor told the congregation, “As I’m sure of Whitney’s place in musical history. I’m also sure of how she felt about her mother. Was she good enough? Could I have done better?” Houston was anxious about being accepted.

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In fact, Costner believed that Houston had been riddled with self-doubt. “‘Did they really like me, or were they just being polite because they’re scared of you, Cissy?’” he reported Houston as having said. This could also explain why she had been worried about taking the plunge and playing the role of Rachel Marron – even despite her phenomenal success.

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But Houston’s leading man felt she was perfect for the role – so much so that he was willing to postpone filming until her singing tour had come to an end. Yes, while Houston may have doubted her abilities, Costner most certainly did not.

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“[She] was nervous and scared that she wasn’t good enough for the role,” Costner remembered. “But I told her I would be with her every step of the way.” The actor was close enough to Houston to see her insecurities and help guide her through them. As if we needed more reasons to love him!

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“I wanted to tell [Houston] that the fame was rigged,” Costner further explained. “That I didn’t care how the test went, that she could fall down and start speaking in tongues. That somehow it was a kind of acting method.” Tragically, Houston’s good friend also linked her insecurities to her ultimate downfall. 

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Costner said, “The Whitney I knew, despite her worldwide fame, always worried. ‘Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Will they like me?’ The part that made her great was also the part that made her stumble.” The actor also downplayed his own role in making The Bodyguard so popular.

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“A lot of men could have played [Frank Farmer],” Costner admitted. “But you, Whitney, were the only person who could have played Rachel Marron.” And he credited his co-star as being a big part of the movie’s extraordinary success. The actor said, “People didn’t just like you, Whitney. They loved you.”

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Ultimately, though, the movie took a heavy toll on Houston. Not only was she on set for hours during a six-month shooting schedule, but her nights were passed in recording studios perfecting the soundtrack. And the strain proved too much for the singer and actress, who suffered a miscarriage during filming.

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As Houston described to Ebony magazine in 1993, “During that pregnancy, I was under such pressure and such stress… I was giving just so much to this film role, and I went right from the concert tour to filming. My body was not ready to carry a child. I think of it as God’s way of saying, ‘This is not right this time. Let’s try it another time.’”

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But whatever contributed to Houston’s untimely death at the age of just 48, Costner regrets not being the person who intervened. He said in her eulogy, “I was your pretend bodyguard once. And now you’re gone too soon. What you did was the rarest of achievements. You set the bar so high that your colleagues don’t even sing that little country song [‘I Will Always Love You’]. What’s the point?”

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And although critics found The Bodyguard to be less than inspiring, fans loved it. The movie earned more than $400 million at the global box office, making it the second most popular film of 1992 behind Disney’s Aladdin. Its soundtrack also remains the best selling of all time, having shifted more than 45 million copies to date.

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That movie is still a topic of conversation for Costner nearly 30 years on. In June 2019 he revealed a secret about Rachel Marron, who he can be seen cradling in his arms on The Bodyguard’s iconic poster. “That wasn’t even Whitney actually,” the actor confessed to People. “She had gone home, and that was her double, and her head was buried into my shoulder.” And despite efforts to superimpose Houston’s face, the studio eventually stuck with the image. “Which was appropriate anyway,” the actor said. “She was frightened.”

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Since The Bodyguard, Costner has been in plenty of other hit movies and TV shows, with Yellowstone being perhaps the most popular. And while we now have a pretty good idea about his kindness towards Houston, we can’t help but wonder if he’s the same with all of his co-stars. Well, Josh Holloway, who plays his on-screen enemy in the cowboy drama, has opened up about Costner. And he’s revealed whether he’s a friendly soul full-time or if Houston got special treatment.

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When Kevin Costner took a leading role in Yellowstone, he became yet another iconic movie star to make the transition to TV. In Paramount Network’s modern western show, the Hollywood veteran steps into the cowboy boots of John Dutton – the powerful head of America’s biggest contiguous ranch. And his character spends a lot of time butting heads with Roarke Carter, who’s played by Lost’s Josh Holloway. But how do the two on-screen enemies really get on behind the scenes?

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Best-known for playing Lost’s rugged anti-hero Sawyer, Holloway is a newcomer to the contemporary cowboy world in Yellowstone. But that didn’t stop the actor from making an instant impression when he showed up in the season three premiere. Of course, that’s largely because the “hedge-fund baller” was thrown into the mix to stir up trouble for Costner’s leading man.

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Holloway’s character, you see, wants to make some ambitious changes to Montana’s open plains. His plan to essentially create a brand-new city on Yellowstone land includes a ski resort and airport. Unsurprisingly, the Dutton family aren’t exactly on board. Their relationship goes downhill from there, and it’s not hard to see why. Now, though, Holloway has revealed whether this animosity extends behind the camera, too.

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In an interview with Good Housekeeping in June 2020, Holloway explained that he doesn’t consider Carter to be villainous. But at the same time, the actor did acknowledge that he’s not someone to be messed with, saying, “Think of him as the inevitable hammer. He’s not coming at you with bravado or violent energy, but he’s just slowly going to keep rolling over you until you’re done.”

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Rather tellingly, Carter first enters the picture when Dutton’s daughter Beth spots him trespassing on her family’s land. Actress Kelly Reilly’s character soon develops an intriguing relationship with the new guy in town. But the situation between the financier and Carter gets so heated that Dutton and his infamous cowboy boots are forced to step in.

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Holloway, meanwhile, thought further about his character’s development before admitting to Good Housekeeping that he is, in fact, playing a baddie. The actor added, “Okay, I guess he’s a villain, but no more of a villain than John Dutton. It’s just two opposing forces coming together, which of course, causes a clash.”

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Like their on-screen characters, Holloway and Costner don’t appear to have that much in common. The Lost actor only came on the scene in the early ’00s, though his Yellowstone co-star has been a screen fixture since the mid-1980s. That’s right: Costner first came to attention in the western movie Silverado, before taking center stage in the thriller No Way Out. The then-budding actor’s rise to fame continued when he appeared alongside Robert De Niro and Sean Connery as Eliot Ness in gangster classic The Untouchables.

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Costner soon became one of the most bankable individuals in all of Hollywood, enjoying box office hits with two movies about baseball: Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. Then, the star’s involvement in Dances with Wolves in 1990 proved that he was just as talented behind the camera as he was in front of it. The Civil War drama won Best Picture at the following year’s Oscars, and Costner was crowned Best Director.

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And the hits kept on coming well into the 1990s. Audiences flocked to see Costner’s portrayal of the titular hero in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Plus, his performance alongside Whitney Houston in the romantic drama The Bodyguard became nothing short of a phenomenon. By the mid-1990s, though, Costner’s peak appeared to be waning, and he had become something of a whipping boy.

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After starring in several underperforming movies such as A Perfect World and Wyatt Earp, Costner was probably banking on Waterworld to return him to the top of the A-list. Instead, the costly sea-based adventure flopped with both critics and cinemagoers alike. Another post-apocalyptic flick called The Postman then very nearly sank his career for good.

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Thankfully, Costner managed to bounce back at the turn of the century with a well-received turn in the Cuban Missile Crisis tale Thirteen Days. And even though the actor’s star power had somewhat diminished, he remained in demand. Rumor Has It, Swing Vote and The Company Men were just a few of the movies that showcased his talents in the ’00s.

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Costner ventured on to the small screen in 2012 and achieved an Emmy for his performance in Hatfield and McCoys, the History Channel’s western miniseries. He then landed supporting roles in both Man of Steel and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, played against type in 3 Days to Kill and returned to the sports film genre with Draft Day. Obviously keen to keep busy, the star also portrayed bounty hunter Frank Hamer in Netflix’s 2019 crime drama The Highwaymen.

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Of course, we can’t forget how Costner’s role in Yellowstone made him a regular face on our TV screens back in the late 2010s. And even though the actor admitted to IndieWire that he found the different form of storytelling a challenge, critics were impressed with his performance as a brooding rancher.

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Costner was asked in the same interview if he knew much about his character’s backstory, and the actor replied, “I would like to, but I’m not always privy to it, no. Sometimes with [John’s] sons or wife or whatever, that’s been really kept in a creative ball. That’s a more vulnerable way to go through life as an actor.” And when referring to his transition to TV, he confessed, “It hasn’t been an easy adjustment for me. I don’t like it too much.”

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Costner admitted that he’s worried about Yellowstone outstaying its welcome, too. The star said, “Something can run quite a while if the architecture of it is careful – not explosive, but careful. You can run a long time if you make things really compelling, but that’s a really hard thing to do. It takes a lot of thought. It’s not impulsive writing. It’s writing with a lot of extended thought.”

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And Costner also revealed that he’s under no illusions about the man he plays. He said, “I have to look at John and understand – outside the character – ‘Hey, you just crossed a line. There’s no going back from that. You sanctioned a killing.’ You can inform the storytellers, the creators, that, ‘Look, we’ve just done that, and now we have to make sure we deal with it honestly.’”

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Costner, as we’ve seen, doesn’t seem to like to take too much time away from the studio. And the star has already made plans for the day his time on Yellowstone comes to an end. He told IndieWire, “I’m going to play the second half of my career out directing, but it could very well be in television. But it won’t be making it up as you go… Listen, a lot of my movies are long. I like the subplots. I like it when it all comes together – [but not when] it’s made up on the fly. I don’t trust that.”

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Of course, there is one thing that Costner values even more than his career, and that’s his family. The star first walked down the aisle with fellow alum of California State University Fullerton Cindy Silva at the age of just 22. Then, in 1984, the pair welcomed a daughter into the world. Annie Clayton went on to join her father in the entertainment industry, too – co-founding the production company Sound Off Films.

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Costner and Silva then became parents for the second time in 1986. And the multi-talented Lily McCall has often performed alongside her famous father in his country band Kevin Costner & Modern West. Yes, she even shared the screen with him in the 2014 family drama Black or White. The actor’s son Joseph, meanwhile, was born in 1988 and has gone on to form his own mobile studio firm known as Spartan Recording.

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Sadly, Costner and Silva ended up going their separate ways amicably in 1994. The Hollywood star became a father for the fourth time when his girlfriend Bridget Rooney gave birth to son Liam two years later. Even though the couple then split shortly after, it wasn’t the end of the Costner brood.

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In 2004 Costner married again – this time to handbag designer and former model Christine Baumgartner. Apparently, the couple had actually split up before getting hitched due to their different views about having kids. Three years on from their wedding, they welcomed their first child, Cayden, with Hayes arriving in 2009 and then Grace completing the family unit a year later.

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Costner confirmed just how much his seven kids mean to him when he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. He told the audience, “My children have always been bigger than the movies. They’ve always been more important. It’s because of them that I’ve been able to do what I love.” But this still doesn’t tell us what Costner’s like to work with.

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From what we know so far, though, it doesn’t seem like Costner would get on the wrong side of his co-stars – even if their characters don’t get along on screen. And if anyone would know whether or not this is true, it’s his fellow Yellowstone actor Josh Holloway. When the former Lost villain hit the promotional trail for the cowboy show’s third season in 2020, he had a lot to say about his fictional enemy.

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Holloway admitted to Good Housekeeping that he was initially apprehensive about joining a show that was already so established. And the presence of an Oscar-winning Hollywood favorite didn’t help much, either. Holloway said, “I was nervous about joining the show because Kevin Costner is a legend and I love his work.”

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The situation apparently became even more stressful due to the amount of dialog that Holloway had in his first scene with Costner. The actor told the magazine that he “didn’t want to screw it up.” In the end, though, Holloway was left inspired by his co-star’s presence. The actor added, “This guy at this level is still trying to do his best work, and that’s impressive.”

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At the time, Holloway refused to talk about whether their characters would eventually clash heads. Though he did offer a spoiler of sorts, adding, “Expect a beautiful opening to a slow burn to a crashing, wild finale. That’s all you need to know.” Holloway also claimed that the season would inspire viewers to embrace their inner cowboy.

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Then, in a chat with Collider, Holloway shed light on what it was like to share the screen with a star as big as Costner. He said, “I love working with legends ’cause it’s just so intimidating. Strangely enough, I’ve [become] comfortable being uncomfortable in this business.”

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And for those of you wondering, Holloway also confirmed that the characters’ on-screen feud definitely doesn’t extend behind the cameras. He said, “When you work with a legend, you’re shaking in your boots for the first 15 minutes. I’m like, ‘Damn, I hope I don’t f*** this up!’ Kevin Costner is a legend, and I’m one of his biggest fans.” Evidently, Holloway is happy to sing his co-star’s praises out of his earshot, but the star seems to want to keep his cool when he’s fully in it.

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Holloway said, “You don’t wanna be a fanboy. You wanna be professional and kick some ass. It was wonderful working with him because he was very present, very humble and still doing the work and not phoning it in. I just have huge respect for that. I had respect for him already, but this is TV and not even a big movie, and he’s doing the work and [is] very present.”

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In fact, Holloway claimed that the experience of working alongside such a favorite of his couldn’t have gone any better. He added, “When you meet a legend who just blows you off, and if they don’t care about the work, it’s disappointing, but this was not that. [Costner] was awesome, and on fire.”

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The actor may have got on with Holloway like a house on fire while shooting the drama, but that doesn’t mean that Costner gave his new co-star an entirely free ride. Holloway recalled to USA Today how Yellowstone’s leading man wasn’t afraid to put him through his paces when filming got a little more physical.

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Holloway referred to a particularly action-packed scene in the show, telling the newspaper, “I’m getting ready to be dragged through the sagebrush. The man himself, Costner, leaned into me and said, ‘You think you’re winning? I’m about to teach you the rules, boy.’ So, yeah, I’m going to get hurt.”

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For his part, Costner has yet to discuss his experience working with Holloway, though several of his Yellowstone castmates have. And Kelly Reilly seems particularly pleased with the choice for her new love interest. She told Entertainment Weekly in July 2020, “Maybe some of that freshness has rubbed off. [Holloway] just comes in and doesn’t play the character the way you would imagine. He takes an interesting approach to the role. He was awesome.”

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And Reilly was just as enthusiastic about the impact that Holloway’s character has had on her on-screen family. She went on to say, “It’s way bigger than anything that they’ve faced. He does represent the most formidable enemy that they have met. Beth understands this is something the Duttons can’t fight with.”

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Reilly was equally as complimentary about Costner when asked what it was like to work with the star by Parade in 2018. She replied, “He’s just such a sweet man and so brilliant. He’s such a brilliant actor, and he’s honestly, the kindest, most humble, relaxed, sweetheart. I feel so lucky to work with him. He’s the one character that Beth is really tethered to.”

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And so it appears as though the set of Yellowstone has become the official home of the Kevin Costner fan club. In 2019 Cole Hauser – who plays Dutton’s closest ally Rip Wheeler – even revealed the star played a big part in convincing him to come on board. He told Cinema Blend in November 2019, “I have always watched him from afar and think the world of him as an actor and a storyteller and a director, for that matter.”

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That same year Gil Birmingham –  a.k.a the Confederated Tribe of Broken Rock Reservation’s chairman Tom Rainwater – was asked by Indian Country Today about the joys of sharing the screen with Costner. He replied, “The few scenes that I’ve had… I haven’t had that many scenes with [him], but he’s really a lot of fun to work with.”

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Birmingham then continued, “[Costner is] a very intense individual. He’s very prepared and he loves to rehearse. But carrying the lead of a show, where you’re working practically every single day is so exhausting. I just try to give the actors [who have] got that kind of workload the space they need.”

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Costner is thriving on the small screen, but he hasn’t given up his film career just yet. In November 2020 he starred alongside Diane Lane in the movie adaptation of Larry Watson’s Let Him Go: A Novel. This isn’t the first time the two leads have appeared opposite each other, either. Lane and Costner also showed up as Superman’s parents in 2013’s Man of Steel.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lane was nothing but effusive when she was asked by People magazine about playing the wife of Costner on the big screen once again. She said, “[Costner] is both a great team player and an encouraging leader. He is fully invested in making things as good as possible.”

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