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Kevin Costner shares his side of ‘Yellowstone’ drama: Where he stands on the future of the series

In Entertainment
May 15, 2024

Kevin Costner is at odds over what went down on Yellowstone‘s Dutton Ranch.

The actor unleashed in a new interview, telling Deadline he “took a beating” in the press from the Paramount Network show’s producers, including showrunner Taylor Sheridan, over the last year amid negotiations for the show’s final episodes. He addressed what was said that “wasn’t truthful,” leaving him ready to tell “the real truth.”

Costner denied he left the show to focus on his passion project, his western epic Horizon: An American Saga, which is premiering at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19. He mortgaged his property to fund the film, which he directed, co-wrote and stars in. The first two parts of it are in theaters this summer with two more on the, well, horizon.

“I haven’t felt good about it the last year, what with the way they’ve talked about it,” Costner told the outlet. “It wasn’t truthful. So now I’m talking about a little bit about what the real truth of it was. I made a contract for Seasons 5, 6 and 7. In February, after a two- or three-month negotiation, they made another contract. They wanted to redo that one, and instead of Seasons 6 and 7, it was 5A and 5B, and maybe we’ll do 6. They weren’t able to make those. Horizon was set in the middle, but Yellowstone was first position. I fit [Horizon] into the gaps. They just kept moving their gaps.”

Costner said he put in 43 days of work as John Dutton III, the patriarch of the Dutton ranch, on part one of Yellowstone’s fifth season, which aired between November 2022 and January 2023. He left Horizon to shoot the second half of Yellowstone’s season (which is supposed to premiere in November), but Sheridan’s scripts weren’t ready.

At that point, “Things imploded,” Costner told the outlet. “You’ve been reading one version [of this behind-the-scenes drama] for a year and a half. I left my movie to be on time for them for [Season] 5B. I left exactly when they wanted, and it made it hard on me. It turns out they didn’t have the scripts for 5B. They needed four more days just to complete the first eight episodes. I left early to give them what they needed to have a complete eight, and I felt bad that the audience didn’t get 10. They didn’t have the scripts for anything else.”

Costner had to continue making Horizon. He offered to work an extra week on Yellowstone, if needed, and said it was reported in the press that he would only work one week total. He insisted that he has “lived up to” his part of the contract — and then some, even working a “nine-day stretch” to help the production catch up. However, “the scripts weren’t there” when it was time to shoot. “There’s a lot of product they were putting out,” he said, referring to all the Yellowstone spin-offs and prequels helmed by Sheridan as a result of the success of Yellowstone.

While Costner sounded done with the drama, he said good writing could lure him back.

“If they’ve got so many other things going on, maybe this circles back and it’s a really cool two seasons,” Costner said of the future. “Or end it, if the writing’s there and I’m happy with it. I’m open to that. But I took a beating over these guys not speaking up for me and allowing crazy stories to come out. I’m not happy about that. But if the writing is there, I will be there too. They had first position. [The narrative that] I didn’t do Horizon because I was tired of doing Yellowstone … [is] a bullshit story.”

Kevin Costner with show creator Taylor Sheridan at the Yellowstone premiere in 2018.

Costner with show creator Taylor Sheridan at the Yellowstone premiere in 2018. (David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

This saga has been playing out for over a year with the holdup of the Yellowstone finale unclear.

Costner has been blamed for having outside interests (Horizon) and excessive demands while the series star pointed fingers at Sheridan’s slow scriptwriting, a result of taking on so many other projects.

January 2023: The first part of Season 5 ended. There’s buzz and speculation over when the second part of the season will air.

February 2023: Deadline reported that Costner demanded to shoot all of his scenes for the latter part of Season 5 in one week. His lawyer, Marty Singer, called it “an absolute lie” and said “anyone suggesting it shouldn’t be believed for one second.”

April 2023: A Yellowstone spin-off was announced, with Matthew McConaughey attached as lead. There was speculation it was a hardball negotiation tactic to put pressure on Costner to return.

May 2023: Paramount announced Yellowstone — which also stars Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley and Cole Hauser — would end after the second part of Season 5. Costner wouldn’t be back due to differences with Sheridan, it was reported.

June 2023: Sheridan told the Hollywood Reporter he was “disappointed” about Costner’s leaving and said it was because of the “passion project he wanted to direct,” of which he said: “I sure hope it’s worth it.” Of the drama with Costner, he said they had open communication until lawyers got involved.

“Then people don’t get to talk to each other and start saying things that aren’t true and attempt to shift blame based on how the press or public seem to be reacting,” Sheridan said. “He took a lot of this on the chin and I don’t know that anyone deserves it.”

Sheridan was defensive when asked if he’d do anything differently: “I didn’t do anything to begin with! I don’t dictate the schedule. I don’t determine when things start filming. I don’t determine when things air. Those decisions are made by people way above me. My sphere of control is the content — that’s it.”

September 2023: Puck reported Costner and Sheridan spoke about him returning to the series, but claimed the star came into the conversation with a list of demands. Costner was painted as a diva, asking for more cash, fewer shooting days, script approval and said he had a “moral death” provision in his contract that set limits on how his character could be killed off.

Costner said during his divorce hearing that he left Yellowstone after failing to come to terms on a new contract. Costner added that he will “probably go to court” over his 5B compensation, claiming he was owed $12 million.

November 2023: It’s announced Yellowstone would delay its final episodes until November 2024 due to the actors and writers strikes.

April 2024: At CinemaCon promoting Horizon, Costner said he’d return to Yellowstone — especially if it continued for Seasons 6 and 7, as his original contract stipulated. “I’d like to be able to do it,” he said. “I thought I was going to make seven [seasons] but right now we’re at five. So how it works out — I hope it does — but they’ve got a lot of different shows going on. Maybe it will.” And while he said he “had my own fantasy how” Dutton’s final storyline would play out, he added, “That’s Taylor’s thing.”

May 2024: While the show is supposed to return in November — and the Hollywood Reporter says the scripts are complete — it hasn’t yet returned to production. Cast member Ian Bohen said shooting of six episodes will begin in May or June. It will premiere in November or December.

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