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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Brayden Garcia

Taylor Sheridan spills the tea on Kevin Costner’s exit from ‘Yellowstone’ and what’s next

After months of off-screen drama, “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan has finally addressed Kevin Costner’s exit and the end of the modern western drama’s original narrative.

Word broke in February that the back half of the latest “Yellowstone” season could be the show’s last with Costner as John Dutton. Scheduling conflicts with Costner’s multi-part western movie epic “Horizon” precluding the star from continuing his role as patriarch of the Montana ranch family.

Paramount confirmed in early May that “Yellowstone” would indeed end in its current form with the final episodes of season 5. However, a sequel show is said to be in the works that could feature a few familiar faces from the flagship series.

Now, Sheridan has shown a peek behind the curtains in his interview with the Hollywood Reporter. Here’s what the North Texas native said about Costner, “Yellowstone” ending and the legendary Four Sixes Ranch:

No ill will for Kevin Costner

Despite Costner leaving “Yellowstone” to work on his movie project, Sheridan said his opinion on the actor hasn’t changed.

“[Costner’s] 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,” Sheridan said. “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.”

There are ongoing discussions to try to convince Costner to come back and film a few scenes to wrap up his arc as Dutton family patriarch. However, the scripts aren’t complete quite yet.

Sheridan said his last conversation with Costner was about the “Horizon” movie project. Costner and Paramount were arguing about when the actor could be done with “Yellowstone,” to which Sheridan said they could work towards a preferred exit date.

When asked by the Hollywood Reporter if Sheridan could have done anything differently to prevent the Costner situation from blowing up, the “Yellowstone” creator answered honestly.

“I didn’t do anything to begin with!” Sheridan said. “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. 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 “1923.” Begged. 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’.“

Nevertheless, Sheridan said John Dutton was never going to be around for the very end of “Yellowstone” anyhow. While Costner’s exit seems like a surprise to many, Sheridan knew Dutton wouldn’t be the last man standing, but he didn’t know it would end so soon.

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

‘Yellowstone spinoff’ is a go

With Costner on his way out, “Yellowstone” in its current form is ending with him as well.

Paramount announced in May that “Yellowstone” would return in November, but that seems unlikely with the Writer’s Guild of America strike ongoing. Sheridan, a WGA member, has put his pen down to support the guild’s efforts.

But there is some good news for fans of the Dutton saga. The last remnants of season five could be longer than the originally planned final six episodes.

“If I think it takes 10 episodes to wrap it up, they’ll give me 10,” Sheridan said. “It’ll be as long as it needs to be.”

As for the “Yellowstone” sequel series, Sheridan has only the “broadest strokes” of the show figured out.

When asked if Kelly Reilly’s fan-favorite character Beth Dutton would make the jump to the new show, Sheridan said his idea of a spinoff is the same as his idea of a prequel. In other words, a stand-alone story.

“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,” Sheridan said. “There are a lot of places you can tell this story.”

While he’s still working the story kinks out, Sheridan did confirm that the new spinoff of the main show would feature “Yellowstone” in its title.

In addition, Sheridan confirmed that Texas actor Matthew McConaughey is in late-stage negotiations to lead the “new chapter” in the “Yellowstone” saga.

“[McConaughey] seems like a natural fit,” Sheridan said. “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.'"


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