You may have heard of Lily Costner’s dad, Kevin. You know, the actor, director, Oscar winner. Costner was arguably the world’s biggest movie star for a decade or so in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And now Lily is following in her father’s footsteps, but not in the way you might expect.
Lily is one of three children by Costner and first wife Cindy Silva, along with older sister Annie and younger brother Joe. Costner and Silva met during their time at California State University, Fullerton. But the pair divorced in 1994, and the actor went on to have four more children. Lily is therefore one of seven Costner offspring.
And Lily is not the only Costner child to have followed in her father’s footsteps – in one way or another. Older sister Annie appeared in her father’s movie The Postman back in 1997 in which both Lily and Joe also starred. It was a real family affair, but it wasn’t the first time some of the Costner clan had appeared alongside their father.
Because Annie Costner had starred with her father as far back as 1990 in what was arguably the movie that cemented Costner’s legendary status. Dances With Wolves was directed by, and starred Annie’s dad. And the movie won seven Academy Awards, including Best Director for Costner. His career may have never peaked that high again, but most in the business never even get close to that level of success.
When Lily was born in 1986, her father was just about to hit the big time as an actor. It was his starring role in 1987’s The Untouchables that brought Costner widespread fame, although he had been acting since the late 1970s. And it was by no means an easy route to the top, with plenty of disappointments along the way.
But it was a chance meeting on a flight with screen legend Richard Burton that finally convinced Costner he wanted to be an actor. “After that [meeting Burton] I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do,” Costner told the Saturday Evening Post. “I told my wife that we were going to Hollywood and that if I had to get a job taking trash out, it was going to be movie trash.”
Despite his determination to succeed, Costner had plenty of knock-backs. Speaking to the Saturday Evening Post, the star remembered one particular unsavory encounter with a casting agent. “She looked me in the eye and said, ‘Well, what we’re really looking for here is someone handsome.’ What she said was hurtful. She was wrong to say it. But I would have been wrong to believe it,” Costner recalled.
Costner got a gig at a studio and began pushing for parts. He secured a couple of minor roles before finally getting a chance alongside Jessica Lange in Frances. Yet all but one of his scenes were cut and his role in the movie went uncredited. Ouch! The same thing happened again in 1983’s The Big Chill.
Yet Costner’s early steps into acting all happened with the blessing and support of first wife Cindy. The pair had met at college, and Cindy also had aspirations to become an actor: even taking on a summer job playing Cinderella at Disneyland. The couple’s first child, Annie, arrived in 1984, with Lily following two years later and Joe in 1988.
With a growing family to take care of, Costner was under pressure to succeed. And 1985’s Silverado was the movie that finally got him noticed. Then came 1987’s The Untouchables and worldwide fame. Lily was born snugly in between, and so she only remembers her dad being famous. It wasn’t always so, of course.
The hits kept coming for Costner in the late 1980s. Bull Durham and Field of Dreams both had a baseball theme. Later came Dances With Wolves in 1990 and Oscar glory. Now an acclaimed director too, Costner began casting his children in some of his films, with Lily getting her first taste of starring alongside her famous dad in 1997’s The Postman.
But that wasn’t the first time Lily had appeared on screen. She had actually acted alongside her sister Annie in 1995’s The Baby-Sitters Club. Although after 1997 Lily would not feature in a movie again for nearly 20 years. So what happened? It’s not all that irregular actually.
Because Lily decided to forge a different path. But that didn’t stop her appearing at the Golden Globe Awards in 2004 as none other than Miss Golden Globe. The ceremonial title is usually given to the daughter of an actor who assists in presenting awards. Lily was just 17 at the time and was following in the footsteps of the likes of future actors Laura Dern and Melanie Griffith.
The part of Miss Golden Globe, now renamed the Golden Globe Ambassador, is traditionally selected by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). At the 2004 announcement, Lorenzo Soria, president of the HFPA, was effusive in his praise for Lily. “The Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Board of Directors was extremely impressed by this talented second-generation performer,” he said.
And Lily’s father was a proud man. “This will be a special night for me knowing how carefully she [Lily] has thought about this and come to the decision on her own,” Costner said of the announcement. “This will be an extraordinary experience for Lily and all of us family and friends who have watched her grow up,” the star added.
Accompanying Lily to the Golden Globes were her father and his fiancée Christine Baumgartner. Costner and Lily’s mum Cindy divorced in 1994 after 16 years of marriage. And the couple’s three children were still young at the time. Costner went on to date Bridget Rooney, and the pair welcomed a son together – Liam – in 1996. Liam is ten years Lily’s junior.
But the relationship with Rooney didn’t last. That was when Costner met, and subsequently married, model and handbag designer Christine Baumgartner. The pair now have three children together: Cayden, born in 2007, Hayes, born in 2009, and Grace, born in 2010. All three of these half-siblings are more than 20 years Lily’s junior.
Anyway, Costner’s career took a bit of a nosedive after critics panned his big budget movies Waterworld and The Postman. But the star has slowly stacked up the hits since, and he even won an Emmy for his role in the TV series Hatfields & McCoys in 2012. And then, in 2014, Costner and Lily appeared in a movie together for the first time since 1997.
“Appeared” is probably not the right word, though, as Lily is never actually seen on screen in Black or White. That’s because the second-eldest Costner child only lends her considerable vocal talents to the production, in which her father stars alongside Octavia Spencer. Why no acting, you say? Well, Lily chose to forego that career path to instead become a musician.
Costner spoke about Lily’s appearance in Black or White with mom.com. And he was gushing. “My daughter sings in the movie. She’s the singer at the church. She’s really beautiful and has really blossomed into a wonderful young lady. That’s Lily.” Costner stated. But Lily wasn’t even meant to feature in the movie at all.
Costner told Entertainment Tonight. “Originally someone else was going to sing in Black or White, but they wanted more money than I had. Finally it turned out to be better.” The film was only Lily’s third credit in the movie business, and her first since appearing in The Postman in 1997.
So Lily decided to swerve acting. Perhaps that was a choice to avoid forever being cast in the shadow of her famous father. But what many people don’t know is that by embarking on a career in music, Lily is also in some way imitating her dad. That’s because Costner is also a musician.
Hang on a moment. Kevin Costner is a musician? Yes, and has been for quite some time, too. Kevin Costner & Modern West is the actor’s band. And they’ve been making music for years, including an album to accompany the star’s screen role playing John Dutton in the series Yellowstone.
What most people don’t know is that Costner has been making music since before he became an actor. He has been together with his current band since 2007, but he still feels that he lacks the talent of his fellow bandmates. “I’m not as gifted as John [Coinman] and Park [Chisholm] and Teddy [Morgan]. And Blair [Forward],” Costner told American Songwriter. “What I do is, I just keep trying, when it seems to be so effortless for them.”
Costner plays guitar and is the lead singer with the band. And Kevin Costner & Modern West released their debut album – Untold Truths – in 2008. Two albums followed before the group turned their attention to making music to feature as the soundtrack for Costner’s award-winning TV series Hatfields & McCoys.
Hatfields & McCoys won Costner an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries back in 2012. His band’s soundtrack album – Famous for Killing Each Other – featured no fewer than 19 tracks. Costner co-wrote eight of those tracks. And another song on that album – “Oh, Malley Mae” – was written, and indeed performed, by another Costner family member. None other than daughter Lily.
So Lily had followed in her father’s footsteps: just not in the way most casual observers would have assumed. In 2013 Lily performed “Oh, Malley Mae” alongside her father and his band at the Grand Ole Opry. That same year she performed at the CMA Country Christmas, singing “Silent Night” alongside country star Trace Adkins.
And it was the following year – 2014 – when Lily finally worked alongside her father again in a movie. Seventeen years after playing a small part in The Postman, Lily featured as a church singer in Black or White. Singing “Long As I Can See The Light,” her performance won praise from all quarters.
Costner is clearly proud of Lily. In a 2017 interview with HuffPost he waxed lyrical about her talents, and the pride he has for her as a daughter and a performer. But he also revealed a little bit about Lily’s approach, which is clearly different to her famous dad’s. In fact, what seems most apparent is that Lily is determined to forge her own path.
“Lily is an amazing singer and songwriter,” Costner said in the interview with HuffPost. “She can be a really huge star if that’s what she wanted. I’m not sure she wants that. She’s really gifted. Lily’s way is not to knock doors down. I think she wants a quality of life,” Costner added, revealing a little into Lily’s psyche.
Costner further elaborated, “She’s seen the quality of life that we’ve had and sometimes the idea of stardom, I think, is a mystery to her. She’s content with performing. She’s not a person who is trying to angle how to go faster and go higher and go larger. It’s just not how she’s built.”
But the star’s final words on Lily were perhaps the most revealing of all. He told the HuffPost, “She has an amazing talent. Does she want to give it to the world? I don’t know.” It seems that there is a conflict in Lily: something that the performer has admitted herself in an honest Instagram post.
Writing in 2017, Lily spoke about a collaboration she did with musician Andrea Behrends. Lily admitted that when Behrends initially invited her to her studio, she almost didn’t go. The reason? “Because I was in too dark a place and feared the camera might only see that,” Lily wrote on the Instagram post. “I don’t know how, but she found my spirit hiding somewhere in that body that day. It’s an incredible feeling to be seen.”
Lily’s possible lack of confidence, if that is what it is, doesn’t seem to be down to her father. In that same 2014 HuffPost interview, she said about her dad, “I always knew my dad loved me because he’d always say so. He made it to every little league game, every championship, every play and that made me feel like I was the center of his universe.”
But it seems Lily’s apparent shy nature will not keep her music from the world. In September 2019 Amo Mama reported that Lily had gone into the studio to record what would be her first studio album. Whenever that album lands, there is no doubt that her dad will be very proud.
As for Costner, having what could be described as a “blended family” has not always been easy. And neither has having seven kids. “As these children interact together, there’s always this little bit of ‘Do you care for us now as much as you do them?’ – that’s just a natural thing that happens, and you have to talk about how big love is,” Costner told mom.com.
For Costner, when it comes to successful parenting, it’s all about love. “The ability to be able to love somebody else doesn’t mean there’s less love for you. Love seems to be always able to hang on to as many people as needs to be in that circle,” he further explained to mom.com.
Despite Costner’s fame, and his large family, the actor and director has always recognized his role as a father. In accepting a gong at the 2015 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, he chose to thank his children in his acceptance speech. “All the years, all the tears saying goodbye at airports as I headed off to do yet another movie,” Costner remembered.
The star wasn’t done. “Their brave faces trying to comprehend the time that I would be away and when I would come home. Hugs that never wanted to end. My children have always been bigger than the movies. They’ve always been more important,” Costner added.
“It’s because of them that I’ve been able to do what I love,” Costner finished. And doing what he loves is making music as well as making movies. Now Lily is also doing what she loves, and the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. If this Costner is half as talented and driven as her famous dad – and it seems she is – she should go far.