‘Yellowstone’ Creator Taylor Sheridan Explains Why Kevin Costner Will Exit Series Following Season 5

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 11: (L-R) Taylor Sheridan and Nicole Muirbrook attend Paramount+ and 101 Studios world premiere of "1883" at Wynn Las Vegas on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images for Wynn Las Vegas)

Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan recently explained why Kevin Costner will exit the popular Paramount series following the conclusion of Season 5.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 11: (L-R) Tim McGraw and Taylor Sheridan attend Paramount+ and 101 Studios world premiere of “1883” at Wynn Las Vegas on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images for Wynn Las Vegas)

Back in April, a rumor surfaced out of the New York Post claiming that Costner and Sheridan were feuding. An anonymous source told the outlet, “It’s the same as with any showrunner and big star — there’s respect, but there’s friction.”

This source also noted the series would likely end after Season 5, “Hopefully Kevin will return for the remaining episodes if everyone works together, but it looks like Yellowstone will end after this season.”

(L-R) Moses Brings Plenty as Mo, Kevin Coster as John Dutton, and Gil Birmingham as Thomas Rainwater. Episode 5 of Yellowstone – “Cowboys and Dreamers” Premieres July 19th at 9 P.M. ET/PT on Paramount Network.

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Another source also informed them that Sheridan’s ego was the one causing the friction, “Taylor is the star of his show. He’s the most important person on all of his shows.”

“Taylor spent years not being truly appreciated in Hollywood,” the source said, “and now that he’s the top of the heap, there’s definitely some ego to all of this.

(L-R) Cole Hauser as Rip Wheeler, Luke Grimes as Kayce Dutton and Kevin Costner as John Dutton. Episode 9 of Yellowstone – “Meaner than Evil” Premieres August 16th at 9 P.M. ET/PT on Paramount Network.

This source also claimed that Costner was willing to shoot, but there were no scripts ready. The source explained, “Kevin’s been extremely cooperative with working with Taylor and his production company, 101 Studios. They were supposed to shoot the second chapter of Season 5 late last year, but they just didn’t have the scripts.”

“Taylor is overburdened and Kevin made himself available at the beginning of the year, but again, nothing was ready,” the source elaborated. “Kevin had already committed to making his other movies. He had given the producers his schedule.”

“In the entertainment industry, you can’t keep yourself in a holding pattern and available while the producers are not getting their act together with the scripts. There was nothing to shoot,” the source added.

Kevin Costner as John Dutton in Yellowstone (2022), Paramount Network

However, a previous report from Deadline in February claimed Costner was trying to reduce the amount of days he was on set for the first part of Season 5 from 65 days of shooting to 50 days of shooting. The report noted he wanted to reduce his role for the second part of Season 5 to just a week shooting.

The outlet speculated he was trying to reduce his role so he could spend more time working on his four-part western film series Horizon, which is being produced by Warner Bros. The second film in the series is expected to wrap production this week.

Kelly Reilly as Beth Dutton and Kevin Costner as John Dutton in Yellowstone (2022), Paramount Network

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Their report noted that negotiations with Costner fell through and that Paramount Network was going to move forward with a spin-off show that would stream exclusively to Paramount+.

This new series is expected to star Matthew McConaughey and will feature a number of the cast members from Yellowstone.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 11: (L-R) Bob Bakish, President and CEO, ViacomCBS and Taylor Sheridan attend the world premiere of “1883” at the Encore Beach Club at Encore Las Vegas on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images for for Paramount+)

Now, in a lengthy exposé in The Hollywood Reporter, Sheridan informed the outlet, “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.”

Sheridan also refuted the rumors that he and Costner were feuding, “My opinion of Kevin as an actor hasn’t altered. 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.”

Kevin Costner as John Dutton. Episode 9 of Yellowstone – “Meaner than Evil” Premieres August 16th at 9 P.M. ET/PT on Paramount Network.

However, he noted that lawyers got involved and that made things difficult, “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.”

Sheridan added, “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.”

Sheridan continued, “I’m disappointed. It truncates the closure of his character. It doesn’t alter it, but it truncates it.”

Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes) and Steve Hendon (James Jordan) call in a cattle mutilation via Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 4 "Only Devils Left" (2019), Paramount

Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes) and Steve Hendon (James Jordan) call in a cattle mutilation via Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 4 “Only Devils Left” (2019), Paramount

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While speaking on how he plans to end the character of John Dutton, Sheridan said, ““I don’t do f**k-you car crashes. Whether [Dutton’s fate] inflates [Costner’s] ego or insults is collateral damage that I don’t factor in with regard to storytelling.”

Kevin Costner as John Dutton in Yellowstone (2018), Paramount Network

Sheridan also addressed claims that he told Costner to “stick to acting.”

He refuted it, “I never had that conversation with Kevin. There was a time in season two when he was very upset and said the character wasn’t going in the direction he wanted.”

Sheridan explained, “I said, ‘Kevin, you do remember that I told you this is essentially The Godfather on the largest ranch in Montana? Are you that surprised that the Godfather is killing people?’ What he’s clung to is [Dutton’s] commitments to his family and way of life. Dutton’s big failing is not evolving with the times — not finding different revenue streams [for the ranch]. Kevin felt season two was deviating from that, and I don’t know that he was wrong. In season three, we steered back into it.”

He added, “And I recall him winning a Golden Globe last year for his performance, so I think it’s working.”

Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) talks with her husband John (Kevin Costner) during the local rodeo via Yellowstone Season 3 Episode 3 "An Acceptable Surrender" (2020), Paramount

Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) talks with her husband John (Kevin Costner) during the local rodeo via Yellowstone Season 3 Episode 3 “An Acceptable Surrender” (2020), Paramount

Sheridan then made it clear he does not believe he is to be blamed for the situation, “I didn’t do anything to begin with! I don’t dictate the schedule. I don’t determine when things start filming. I don’t determine when things air. Those decisions are made by people way above me.”

He elaborated, “My sphere of control is the content — that’s it. No production of mine has ever waited on me. Believe me, I begged [for more time] with 1883. I begged with 1923Begged. Nope, ‘Airdate locked; for what we pay you, figure it out.’ And I don’t stand in a corner and go, ‘I’m not going to do it.’”

To that end he noted that he might extend the show’s ending to 10 episodes from the previously planned six, “If I think it takes 10 episodes to wrap it up, they’ll give me 10. It’ll be as long as it needs to be.”

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 11: (L-R) Taylor Sheridan and Sam Elliott attend Paramount+ and 101 Studios world premiere of “1883” at Wynn Las Vegas on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images for Wynn Las Vegas)

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As for the rumored spin-off series with McConaughey, Sheridan commented, “He seems like a natural fit. We had a few conversations over the years, and spitballed a few ideas. Then he started watching Yellowstone and responded to it. He was like, ‘I want to do that.’ And by ‘that’ he meant diving into a raw world clashing up against the modern world. And then I said, ‘Buddy, that we can do.’”

However, unlike the previous report from Deadline, Sheridan intimated it will not feature any of the cast from Yellowstone. He shared, “My idea of a spinoff is the same as my idea of a prequel — read into that what you will.”

He added, “There are lots of places where a way of life that existed for 150 years is slamming against a new way of life, but the challenges are completely different. There are a lot of places you can tell this story.”

John Dutton (Kevin Costner), Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser), and Llyod (Forrie J. Smith) check out construction on the Dutton Family Ranch via Yellowstone Season 3 Episode 3 "An Acceptable Surrender" (2020), Paramount

John Dutton (Kevin Costner), Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser), and Llyod (Forrie J. Smith) check out construction on the Dutton Family Ranch via Yellowstone Season 3 Episode 3 “An Acceptable Surrender” (2020), Paramount

What do you make of Sheridan’s explanation for why Costner is leaving Yellowstone? What do you make of his responses to the various rumors?

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