Kevin Costner Finally Shared His (Full) Side of the ‘Yellowstone’ Story

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Kevin Costner Shares Why He Left ‘Yellowstone’Steve Granitz - Getty Images

A year and a half ago, Yellowstone left viewers with a massive cliff-hanger. If you need a reminder: Season 5 ended prematurely—it was just two episodes away from the finale. The delay was allegedly caused by a feud between lead Kevin Costner and series creator Taylor Sheridan. In the ensuing months, Paramount claimed Costner wouldn’t shoot more episodes—and that he left the production to promote his new film franchise, Horizon. Meanwhile, Costner claims that Paramount wanted to amend his contracts after Sheridan took too long to write the next Yellowstone scripts. It’s been a mess.

Though Costner has addressed this particular Yellowstone drama before, the actor really let it rip in a new interview with Deadline. Costner says that he felt betrayed. “I have taken a beating from those f*cking guys,” he says. “I made Yellowstone the first priority, and to insinuate anything else would be wrong....They were doing a tap dance and this poor guy was also having to write so much. And I don’t know why they didn’t stick up for me.”

Ever since Yellowstone went on hiatus, Costner has taken the brunt of the blame. According to various reports over the past year, the leading actor holds final say over the circumstances of his character’s death. Plus, reports claim that he offered only a week of his time to film Yellowstone—and even threatened to sue over contract disputes. Costner claims that Paramount pulled a fast one on him.

I haven’t felt good about it the last year, what with the way they’ve talked about it. 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 five, six and seven. In February, after a two- or three-month negotiation, they made another contract. They wanted to redo that one, and instead of seasons six and seven, it was 5A and 5B, and maybe we’ll do six. 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.

They were silent and that bothered me in the world of how you do things. Why don’t you stick up for me? I went and sold this thing for you. I was going to only do one season. I made it for three. I fulfilled three. So I went from one to three, then I did a fourth one for them and they wanted to do three more. So I made the contract to do that. They imploded. I had a contract to do five, six and seven. I was contracted to do that. There’s nothing I could have done to get out of that, nor was I trying to just figure out how, when we started. When we finished, I wanted to do ‘Horizon.’ It all happened because they shut down one whole season, didn’t tell anybody and I didn’t work for 14 months....I said, “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.

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Costner claims that Sheridan never finished the scripts for the season 5 finale.Paramount

Paramount eventually promised to finish Yellowstone—with or without Costner—by November 2024, when the studio plans to begin a new Yellowstone sequel/spin-off that’ll reportedly star Matthew McConaughey. It was enough of a road map to satisfy worried fans at the time, but we’ve seen little to no movement on completing that goal. New reports suggest that McConaughey not only isn’t officially committed to the project but that Costner’s claims that the scripts weren’t even finished are true. He goes on:

No. I didn’t shoot 5B. There was no script. And then things imploded. 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 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. So what you read in the end was that I said, “Well, look, I’m doing my movie. If you want me to work a week because you want to kill me or whatever else, I can give you a week.” I really didn’t have that week to give them, but I said, I’ll do that. And then they [spun that] into, I only wanted to work a week.

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Sheridan (left) and Costner (right) reportedly met to discuss the actor’s potential return. Whatever happened, he is not set to appear in the finale.Variety - Getty Images

Costner also insinuated that Sheridan was overworked at Paramount, which is why he ran out of scripts for the latter half of Yellowstone season 5. Outside of the hit Western, Sheridan produces Mayor of Kingstown, Tulsa King, Special Ops: Lioness, and Lawman: Bass Reeves, as well as Yellowstone spin-offs 1883 and 1923. He’s also working on even more Paramount series, such as Landman with Billy Bob Thornton and multiple new Yellowstone prequels. “There’s a lot of product they were putting out,” Costner states. “[Yellowstone] didn’t have the scripts. And they wrote these other three shows. They don’t ever talk about that.”

So what happens now? Would he return if he and Sheridan worked it out man-to-man? “I was straight up with him and he said what we would do and I believed him and we didn’t get there,” Costner explains. “But if the writing is there, I will be there too....I didn’t do Horizon because I was tired of doing Yellowstone. That’s a bullsh*t story.”

Hopefully Paramount can deliver a satisfying ending for Yellowstone fans—with or without Costner.

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