Incredible Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Dances With Wolves

Dances with Wolves is a 1990 epic Western film directed by and starring Kevin Costner. It is based on the 1988 book of the same name by Michael Blake, and follows a US Army Lieutenant named John Dunbar who is sent to a military post in the frontier. There, he encounters a tribe of Native Americans and begins to build a relationship with them. The film was a landslide at the box office and was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, winning seven, including Best Picture and Best Director. See what makes Dances with Wolves such an iconic film and everything that had to happen for it to be made.

It Started Off As A Novel That Nobody Wanted To Publish

Costner and Blake at the Golden Globes
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Inspired after reading about the Plains Indians, screenwriter Michael Blake pitched Kevin Costner with the idea for Dances with Wolves. The two had met in an acting class, and Costner suggested that he turn the idea into a book first, rather than a screenplay, to hopefully garner more interest from the studios.

Blake wrote the book over a series of months and submitted it to a series of publishers. Unfortunately, nobody was interested in it, and after more than 30 rejections it was picked up by the small publisher Fawcett.