In the early '90s, Kevin Costner and Madonna's worlds collided in a very unexpected way. Each of the celebrities were already mega-successful in their field; Costner had starred in fan favorites such as Field of Dreams, Bull Durham and the Academy Award-winning Dances With Wolves, which he also directed, while Madonna was riding high as a global pop superstar with hits such as "Like a Virgin" and "Express Yourself." But by the looks of their 1990 meeting backstage after Madonna's Blonde Ambition Tour, Costner and the "Material Girl" didn't exactly hit it off.
In a clip from the 1991 documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare (also known as In Bed With Madonna), Madonna is seen lounging backstage with her then-boyfriend and Dick Tracy co-star Warren Beatty and a slew of celebrties from Al Pacino to Lionel Richie. Among the stars visiting Madonna after her L.A. show is Costner, who came backstage to praise the singer and thank her for the invitation.
"You were great. Thanks for having us," Costner says in the clip. "That was very generous. We thought it was neat."
Whether she viewed the remark as disparaging or took issue with his use of the word "neat," the singer didn't seem to appreciate the comment.
"No one's ever described it quite that way," Madonna responds.
As Costner turns to walk away, Madonna makes a gagging motion and quips "'Neat'? Anybody who says my show is 'neat' has to go."
The awkward moment was captured for the world to see in Truth or Dare, which went on to gross $29 million and was the highest-grossing documentary of all time until Bowling For Columbine surpassed it in 2002. That means a lot of people saw Madonna publicly diss Kevin Costner.
"Yeah, I was embarrassed by it and kind of hurt by it," Costner told The Los Angeles Times. "I just went back there because I was asked to go back. And I found the best word that I could. I never called her on it or whatever."
But apparently, years later, Madonna had a change of heart. Costner says the pop singer made amends, fittingly, onstage at an L.A. concert.
Costner explains that he took his daughters to see Madonna when she was performing in Los Angeles ("I just thought this is somebody they should see," Costner says. "I didn't call anybody for tickets, I just got tickets and we went down.")
"About the third song in, the lights were down, and she said, 'I want to apologize to someone.' And all of a sudden my face starts to get hot.... And she says, 'I want to apologize to Kevin Costner.' She just said it very simply. Ninety-eight percent of that audience didn't know what she was talking about," Costner says. "But I really respected that, and it showed me the power of just keeping your own counsel for a long time.... Whatever possessed her, whatever was inside her, she came to her own decision. And a bigger thing came out of some kind of humiliation."
The Wyatt Earp star said while he never connected with Madonna over her apology, her statement that night meant a great deal.
"I never wrote her to say thank you, but I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart, and that meant more to me than you could ever know," Costner says.
Costner is currently starring as John Dutton on the hit Paramount series Yellowstone. He's also helping to write and develop the TV series National Parks, a partnership with A+E Studios and Disney's 20th Television. The series will follow the Investigative Services Branch of the National Parks Service and the crimes they solve as they work on protecting the national monuments within the park borders.