Farce and furious: Costner hits back at Yellowstone drama

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Wenlei Ma
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Kevin Costner as John Dutton in Yellowstone.
Kevin Costner as John Dutton in Yellowstone. Credit: Stan/TheWest

There may be a lot of heightened drama onscreen in Yellowstone but it’s the behind-the-scenes theatre that’s dominated the conversation around one of TV’s biggest shows. And Kevin Costner has added fuel to that fire with incendiary accusations.

Costner and Yellowstone’s creator and writer Taylor Sheridan have been engaged in a very public spat for over a year about why the actor may not be returning to play the Dutton patriarch.

Most of the blame has been laid at Costner’s feet, with accusations (from usually unnamed sources from the studio, Paramount, or Sheridan’s camp) contending the actor had been stingy with his schedule and availability because he was off making his four-picture epic Horizon: An American Saga, the movie of which is due to premiere at Cannes next week.

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Costner has mostly been quiet on the tussle, save for threatening to sue Yellowstone producers over what he viewed as a contract breach. But he has come out swinging in an interview with Deadline in which he clearly holds Sheridan responsible for the unpleasantness.

He effectively called his opponents liars, and said that the way the disagreements have been talked about “wasn’t truthful”.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 11:  (L-R) Taylor Sheridan, Kelly Reilly and Kevin Costner attend "Yellowstone" premiere at Paramount Pictures on June 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevin Costner with creator Taylor Sheridan and co-star Kelly Reilly. Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Paramount Netwo

“So, now I’m talking a little bit about what the real truth of it was,” he told Deadline.

The wildly popular Yellowstone is due to premiere its final episodes at the end of this year with what is now termed “season 5B” and it’s expected Costner’s John Dutton will not feature in those episodes.

Costner said the reason he’s not returning to the show is that the scripts were not ready at the agreed time and while he tried to accommodate the ever-changing filming schedules, eventually it became unfeasible.

“There was no script, and then things imploded. You’ve been reading one version for a year and a half. I left my movie to be on time for them for 5B,” he said, adding that Yellowstone didn’t start on time and went over schedule for the first four seasons as well. “I dealt with that through seasons one, two, three and four, and didn’t say a word.”

“I fit [Horizon] into the gaps. They just kept moving their gaps,” he argued.

Kevin Costner in Yellowstone
Kevin Costner is not coming back for Yellowstone. Credit: Supplied Paramount Plus

After Yellowstone hit it big (the fifth season debuted on US broadcast TV to 12.1 million viewers, almost unheard of in the streaming era), Sheridan became a cash cow for Paramount and created five other shows including spin-offs 1923 and 1883. Sheridan writes every episode of his shows - a rarity.

Costner said, “Listen, I don’t want to get down in the gutter with the Yellowstone thing but what I’m telling you is straight up. I have taken a beating from those f**king guys and I know a lot of the times where it’s coming from. I just elected not to get into that.

“But if you know me well enough, I made Yellowstone the first priority, and to insinuate anything else would be wrong. I did not initiate any of those things. They did. They were doing a tap dance and this poor guy [Sheridan] was also having to write so much. And I don’t know why they didn’t stick up for me.”

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