Kevin Costner went on record for the first time, telling his side of the months-long dispute with the hit show Yellowstone.
Costner testified at his divorce hearing on Friday, and the conversation dug into his finances from the Paramount Network series which has grown to become the most-watched drama on television.
According to People (along with other reports), the 68-year-old Golden Globe-winning Yellowstone star said he might take the show to court to settle their differences. Costner claimed he’s owed $12 million for the not-yet-filmed second half of season five after Paramount “walked away” from negotiations.
“It’s a little disappointing that [it’s the] No. 1 show on television [and] I’m not participating,” said Costner, whose wife of 19 years, Christine Baumgartner, filed for divorce in May. “I’ll probably go to court over it.”
Costner’s representative and Paramount’s representative had no comment.
Yellowstone has been in hiatus since the first half of season five aired late last year. The reason for the hold-up has been a bit murky, with sources from the production blaming the actor’s busy schedule, sources from the actor’s camp claiming showrunner Taylor Sheridan took on too many projects, and Sheridan himself pointing to Paramount’s rising demands for more content for its streaming service.
One factor is that Costner landed a deal to make a dream project, a four-part movie saga titled Horizon, which has already finished shooting at least the first film, Horizon: An American Saga. Once the decision was made last year to split Yellowstone season five into two seasons, Costner said he rearranged his production schedule with Horizon. But when he was ready to begin filming, scripts for the second half of the season weren’t ready. In May, Paramount surprised fans by announcing the show would end with the second half of season five.
Costner claimed he wanted to return for season six, but “I couldn’t help them any more. We tried to negotiate, they offered me less money than previous seasons [and] there were issues with the creative.”
In The Hollywood Reporter’s cover story profile of Sheridan, the showrunner gave his side of the matter.
The actor had requested to work fewer and fewer days on Yellowstone the last few seasons to focus on his movies, which frustrated producers, according to Sheridan.
“My last conversation with Kevin was that he had this passion project he wanted to direct,” said Sheridan, who is currently pencils-down to support the WGA strike. “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.”
There are ongoing discussions to try to convince Costner to film a few scenes to wrap his character, though the scripts are not yet complete.
“My opinion of Kevin as an actor hasn’t altered,” Sheridan says. “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.
“I’m disappointed,” Sheridan adds. “It truncates the closure of his character. It doesn’t alter it, but it truncates it.”
Sheridan hinted that John Dutton was never going to be around for the very end of the show, and that the conclusion of Yellowstone is unchanged from his original movie script. Yet Costner’s statements in court today suggested that — if Costner’s role is indeed wrapped in season five — it was a mighty big truncation, given that the original plan was apparently to have him stick around for seven seasons.