Kevin Costner’s feud with Taylor Sheridan explained

Jessica Cullen
Kevin Costner’s feud with Taylor Sheridan explained: Kevin Costner and Taylor Sheridan

Off-screen conflicts aren’t anything new in the world of television, but with one of the most popular shows at stake, here’s what you need to know about Kevin Costner and Taylor Sheridan’s feud.

Kevin Costner is one of Hollywood’s most enduring stars. Taylor Sheridan is Paramount’s $500 million-a-year investment. When these two came together to create the Duttonverse in Yellowstone, it was a powerful collaboration between two major personalities.

Nobody quite estimated just how big Yellowstone would become — a drama series that’s since become one of the most-watched cable shows during its run and inspired a handful of equally successful spinoffs. But now, the tides are turning. Without warning, Yellowstone was cancelled, and the upcoming season will unexpectedly act as its last.

And it’s all to do with the drama between Costner and Sheridan. So, here’s everything you need to know about what happened between the two and how it ended Yellowstone.

Scheduling issues caused problems between Kevin Costner and Taylor Sheridan

Speculation of a feud between Kevin Costner and Taylor Sheridan came as a result of Costner’s exit from Yellowstone, which is due to a number of issues — namely scheduling and pay.

Mostly, the underlying issue is scheduling. This is due to Costner’s upcoming four-part film series, Horizon: An American Saga. It’s been a passion project 30 years in the making for Costner, who wrote, directed, and starred in the Western epic(s).

Essentially, the filming of Yellowstone interfered with Costner’s commitment to Horizon. Costner took issue with the fact that Yellowstone Season 5 would split into two halves, each filming separately after a break.

“Somewhere along the line, they wanted to change things,” Costner said of the scheduling [via Deadline]. “They wanted to do 5A and 5B; [it] affected Horizon. I was going to do my movie Horizon and leave that show, do my movie, then do B. A show I was only doing once a year I was now doing twice.”

Costner asked to film for less days so he could also work on Horizon, a request which conflicted with what the producers wanted. (Costner made a request to shoot for one week only on Season 5 Part 2.)

Meanwhile, Taylor Sheridan was occupied with his ever-growing TV slate. Juggling the string of Yellowstone spinoffs in development, plus his continued work on The Mayor of Kingstown, Tulsa King, Bass Reeves, and Landman, he would have been too busy to personally oversee the schedule changes required.

“My last conversation with Kevin was that he had this passion project he wanted to direct,” Sheridan told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”

Negotiations began, but eventually, it became evident that neither side was willing to compromise. As such, Costner opted to go the way of Horizon.

Kevin Costner says a smaller salary and creative problems became an issue

Kevin Costner also cited failed negotiations over pay as part of his reason for leaving Yellowstone.

Costner insisted that he wanted to return to finish out the show, but that the production had offered him a smaller paycheck. Initially, he was offered $12 million for each part of Season 5.

According to People Magazine, Costner said: “I couldn’t help them any more. We tried to negotiate, they offered me less money than previous seasons, there were issues with the creative…”

Eventually, he told his team: “have them pay me whatever number, we came up with a number, and they [Yellowstone] walked away.” He later added, “I will probably go to court over it.”

Kevin Costner as John Dutton in Yellowstone: standing next to a horse and leaning against a fence

The “creative” issues are another matter. Costner was apparently “waiting on scripts” for the second half of Season 5, which were needed for filming dates that never came. One source said: “How can you schedule something when there are no scripts? [Sheridan’s] doing eight other shows.”

How did Costner and Sheridan’s feud impact Yellowstone?

After failed attempts at agreeing terms, Costner walked away, leading Sheridan and Paramount to cancel Yellowstone.

The big question for now is whether Costner will be in Season 5 Part 2‘s final episodes at all. There are many options: recasting the role of John Dutton, giving the character a noble ending, or an off-screen death. Ultimately, Costner has been clear: he’s open to finishing the show under the right circumstances. (In other words: more money and less time.)

There’s also talk of a “moral death” clause in his contract, meaning Sheridan can’t just write him out however he pleases. But the general consensus seems to be that Costner’s return is unlikely, and the final episodes won’t include John Dutton.

Taylor Sheridan has “never had an issue” with Kevin Costner, he says

As for Costner and Sheridan’s relationship, the latter is adamant there’s no bad blood between them.

Although it seems like they might be in a battle, Costner’s difficulties appear to come from the production itself rather than its creator.

“My opinion of Kevin as an actor hasn’t altered,” Sheridan said. “His creation of John Dutton is symbolic and powerful … and I’ve never had an issue with Kevin that he and I couldn’t work out on the phone.

“But once lawyers get 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. He took a lot of this on the chin and I don’t know that anyone deserves it. His movie seems to be a great priority to him and he wants to shift focus. I sure hope [the movie is] worth it — and that it’s a good one.”

For more Yellowstone, check out some of our other guides: Is Yellowstone on tonight? | 6666 Yellowstone | 1923 cast | Yellowstone cast | Will Kevin Costner be in S5P2? | Does Tate die in Yellowstone? | Does Beth die in Yellowstone? | Matthew McConaughey’s Yellowstone series | Yellowstone CBS changes explained | Yellowstone spinoffs timeline explained | Does Monica die in Yellowstone? | Is Lawmen: Bass Reeves a spinoff? 

Related Topics

About The Author

Jessica Cullen is a TV and Movies Writer at Dexerto. She's previously written for The Digital Fix, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, and Slate. Aside from her Yellowstone obsession, she loves true crime, '90s action movies, and anything with a young Harrison Ford. You can email her here: jessica.cullen@dexerto.com.