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The star of Paramount Network’s Yellowstone made the trip the show's' namesake national park in honor of the 150th anniversary of its founding. He camped, hiked and took it all in, capturing the experience for a four-part docuseries on Fox Nation that retraces its history and shows what it's like today.
"Sometimes I think about the things I'm going to miss most in my life when I finally have to walk away," the 67-year-old Academy Award-winning director said in a clip while staring at snow covered mountains in the world's first national park. "And sometimes it's not just my family that I'll think of, but it will be the books I never read. It will be the music I never hear. And sometimes the stories that I wish I would had known."
That is why he made the doc, he explained. He recalled seeing images of Yellowstone when he was younger, with its otherworldly geothermal features — including geysers, hot springs and mud pits — and incredible wildlife, and knew it was special. But not having explored its terrain and learned the deep history for this series, including poring through journals from 150 years ago, he would have missed out.
"Most of us walk through life … without really getting below the surface," he said, "and the idea that I didn't really know what it took for Yellowstone to be here — so that we could all enjoy it from now and forever — was [a story] I realized I would have missed if I didn't hear it." So when he did, "I realized suddenly this was a story I wanted to share. That's what I do as a person. That's actually what I do as a storyteller."
Costner said he was glad to know that people "who didn't hold the power but had a force of will … would not give up … the fight. For that, I'm forever grateful to be part of their story too."
The actor, of course, stars in the hit show Yellowstone, the most-watched drama on cable television, which premiered its fifth season last week. He plays fictional Montana rancher John Dutton, who owns one of the biggest cattle ranches in the country and is struggling to protect the property from greedy tycoons. The neo-Western drama didn't venture into national politics until the last few episodes, as the hardened patriarch became the new governor of Montana.
Costner himself has been vocal about politics in recent years, whether it was his support of Liz Cheney in her unsuccessful Wyoming Republican primary or backing President Biden after initially endorsing Pete Buttigieg. This week, he spoke about that, saying that he doesn't "really care" how the public feels about him weighing in on politics and whether it results in people no longer liking him. "That's OK," he told USA Today.
Though don't expect him to run for office. "I don't think there's any reason," said Costner, "though I wish the people that did run had a bigger vision and more of a morality about how they see the country evolving. I'm disappointed."
Earlier this year, when Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding region was hit by catastrophic floods, Yellowstone cast made a video encouraging the return of tourism to the area.
Yellowstone: One-Fifty debuts Sunday, Nov. 20 with all four episodes dropping at once on the streaming platform. Episode one will air on Fox News Channel on Sunday, Dec. 11th.