Kevin Costner sets record straight on Yellowstone fiasco

Kevin Costner has detailed exactly why he walked away from Yellowstone, after dramatically quitting the show last year with seasons to go.

The hit Paramount series, about a Montana landowner named John Dutton (Costner) and his warring family, unexpectedly came to an end when lead creator Taylor Sheridan called time on the show in May, far earlier than expected.

The surprising news followed reports that Costner had locked horns with Sheridan over scheduling conflicts, with the producer publicly claiming that he was “disappointed” by Costner’s decision to exit the series.

Speaking to Deadline, in an interview at Cannes Film Festival to promote his new Western film Horizon: An American Saga, Costner claimed the Yellowstone team had not been telling the “truth” about his decision to leave the show.

Costner’s scheduling conflicts were previously believed to be caused by filming for Horizon, which has been 35 years in the making and will premiere as a “two-part event” at Cannes before it is released in two chapters on 28 June and 16 August.

The actor, 69, has now disputed claims that Horizon caused the demise of Yellowstone, alleging that filming for his movie had been scheduled on his days off from the show. “I fit it into the gaps,” he said. “They just kept moving their gaps.”

The John Dutton star said he made Yellowstone “first priority” whereas the production team were “doing a tap dance”. He said that Horizon was never intended to “compete” with the series.

Kevin Costner in ‘Yellowstone’ (Paramount)
Kevin Costner in ‘Yellowstone’ (Paramount)

Costner had a contract to film seasons five, six, and seven of Yellowstone. “In February, after a two or three month negotiation, they made another contract,” he claimed. “They wanted to redo that one and instead of seasons six and seven, it was five A and five B and maybe we’ll do six.”

The actor, who received the brunt of the blame for Yellowstone coming to a close, questioned why the production team “didn’t stick up” for him when the rumours that he was never available to shoot the show emerged. “They made the contract and they picked the days,” he said.

Costner claims he even left filming for his movie for a “whole month” in order to shoot the five B season of Yellowstone. But, when he arrived, there was “no script” and “things imploded”.

“I left exactly when they wanted, and it made it hard on me,” he said. “I’ve never missed a day of work. I’ve never left before fulfilling my contractual obligations.”

The actor claims he did not work for 14 months after Yellowstone production ceased due to lack of scripts. In order to “protect” himself, the actor began work on Horizon to “fill the gaps” and regularly compromised his schedule when the series required him to.

Despite the fallout, Costner revealed surprising hopes to return to the show. “I’m very open to coming back,” he said. “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, too.”

Kevin Costner in Yellowstone (Paramount)
Kevin Costner in Yellowstone (Paramount)

Last November, Costner addressed his surprise exit from Yellowstone while giving testimony at his divorce case.

The actor is reported to have said the situation was “complicated”, and that he “did negotiate” to return for several more seasons.

According to reporters present at the trial, Costner said: “There were issues about creative. I tried to break the log jam. They walked away.” He is believed to have said he will “probably go to court” over the matter.

Sheridan previously said: “My last conversation with Kevin was that he had this passion project he wanted to direct. He and the network were arguing about when he could be done with Yellowstone. I said, ‘We can certainly work a schedule toward [his preferred exit date],’ which we did.”

The Independent has contacted Sheridan’s representatives for comment.