Kevin Costner debunks “bullsh*t” Yellowstone drama and explains why he left

Jessica Cullen
Kevin Costner as John Dutton in Yellowstone

A candid new interview with Kevin Costner has revealed, among many things, the truth behind the Yellowstone drama and the reason he left Taylor Sheridan’s hit series.

While promoting his upcoming Western epic, Horizon: An American Saga, Costner finally opened up about the details surrounding his shocking Yellowstone exit, putting to bed the rumors of feuds with Taylor Sheridan and Horizon-based battles.

One of the many revelations revealed in Costner’s interview with Deadline was that, contrary to belief, he did not prioritize Horizon over Yellowstone. In fact, according to the actor, it was the other way around, with the Taylor Sheridan show taking first place. According to him, the Yellowstone production couldn’t nail down a schedule and produce finished scripts, so he ultimately decided to walk away.

“I haven’t felt good about it the last year, what with the way they’ve talked about it,” Costner said of the situation. “It wasn’t truthful. So now I’m talking about a little bit about what the real truth of it was.”

Costner always prioritized Yellowstone over Horizon

As Costner tells it, the actor “made a contract for Seasons 5, 6, and 7.” Then, after new negotiations that lasted around two or three months, another contract was made. What changed was the number of seasons, and instead of making Season 6 and Season 7, the fifth season was split into two halves, referred to as ‘5A’ and ‘5B’. (Officially, the final season is called Yellowstone Season 5 Part 2.)

“Horizon was set in the middle, but Yellowstone was first position,” Costner insists. “I fit [Horizon] into the gaps. They just kept moving their gaps.”

He also added: “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 [Taylor Sheridan] was also having to write so much. And I don’t know why they didn’t stick up for me.”

Costner made himself available for Yellowstone

When it comes to the rumors that Costner wasn’t able to commit to filming chunks of Yellowstone due to Horizon’s schedule, he shut those down, too.

“That’s not true,” he confirmed. “There were blocks of time that we didn’t get 10 episodes done. Basically, we were starting in April and May, and we’d usually go through August. We’d do 10. We didn’t even get 10 done during that time. I only worked 43 days. So that’s bullsh*t. That’s a lie. That’s not correct.”

When it comes to his contracted requirements, Costner maintains that he “lived up to it.” He then reveals that he gave the Yellowstone production 25 days of his time for Yellowstone 5B back in November and December, though these days were not used since the scripts weren’t completed.

It was then, he says, that things took a turn. After leaving the Horizon set to make time for Yellowstone 5B, there were no scripts, and they required more time to complete the first eight episodes. While the deadline for the scripts were not met, Costner then offered more time so that they could “end this elegantly” but, as he suggests, the production still wasn’t ready, all while he was set to begin Horizon on August 1.

The “other three shows” were also part of the problem, Costner says, most likely referring to the Yellowstone spinoffs 1923 Season 2, 6666, and Yellowstone 1944. After the constant back and forth for around 14 months, Costner recalls telling them: “‘I can’t ever go through that again, where you shut down for over a year and I don’t have something in line to do.’

“All I did was protect myself, but I didn’t put myself in first position, over Yellowstone. I filled the gaps,” he says.

Costner would be open to returning

Despite all of this, Costner says that he would be willing to come back to the role of John Dutton, under the right circumstances.

“I’m very open to coming back,” he says. “If they’ve got so many other things going on, maybe this circles back and it’s a really cool two seasons. 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. I didn’t do Horizon because I was tired of doing Yellowstone. That’s a bullsh*t story. I didn’t do Horizon to compete with Yellowstone. This is something I’ve had a long time.”

For more, take a look at our guide to the best Yellowstone episodes, the full Yellowstone cast, and the Yellowstone soundtrack.

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About The Author

Jessica Cullen is a TV and Movies Writer at Dexerto. She's previously written for The Digital Fix, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, Slate and more. Aside from being the residential Yellowstone expert, she also loves Westerns, '90s action movies, and true crime. You can email her here: jessica.cullen@dexerto.com.