Kevin Costner on ‘Yellowstone’ Contract Dispute: “I Lived Up to It”

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Kevin Costner says he was ready and willing to move ahead with Yellowstone in accordance with his contract on the show — but that the production wasn’t ready at the appointed time.

Save for a few comments at April’s CinemaCon, Costner has kept quiet about his apparent departure from the Paramount Network hit. As he prepares to premiere the first part of his western epic Horizon: An American Saga at Cannes, however, the actor and filmmaker is offering a much more detailed account of his side of the dispute with Yellowstone’s producers, including showrunner Taylor Sheridan.

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“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,” Costner said in a lengthy interview with Deadline. “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.”

Costner said he worked for 43 days on the first half of Yellowstone’s fifth season, which aired in late 2022. He left the set of Horizon to shoot the second half (which is scheduled to premiere in November), but according to him, scripts weren’t ready.

“And then things imploded,” he said. “You’ve been reading one version [of what happened] for a year and a half. I left my movie to be on time for them for [season] 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.”

After that, Costner needed to return production on Horizon — which he directed, co-wrote and stars in — but offered to work and extra week if needed. That offer, he said, got twisted into reports that he was only willing to return to Yellowstone for a week.

Coster admits to being displeased with the way the story has played out, but he also says he’d return to the series if he’s asked. “If they’ve got so many other things going on, maybe this circles back and it’s a really cool two seasons,” he said. “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.”

When confirming the end of Yellowstone, Paramount Network announced 2024 as the first-ever Yellowstone sequel; a present-day story to take place after the events of Yellowstone that would continue exploring the Dutton family dynasty with new characters and locations, as well as some existing characters, per the release at the time. It was given a straight-to-series order. The network also announced another prequel, 1944, which would follow in the footsteps of limited series 1883 and 1923, the latter which has been renewed for a forthcoming second season.

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