“Yellowstone” star Kevin Costner is threatening to sue the show’s producers over money he believes he’s still owed from the series. The actor spoke publicly on Friday for the first time about his falling out with the hit Paramount Network series, while on the stand in a Santa Barbara courtroom.
Costner discussed the “Yellowstone” acrimony during a child support hearing, part of his divorce proceedings from wife Christine Baumgartner. As described by People magazine and other outlets that attended the hearings, Costner — whose impending exit from “Yellowstone” was previously reported in February — expressed frustration with not being able to continue on the series.
More from Variety
At the time, it was suggested that Costner would potentially exit the series (on which he has played John Dutton since it launched in 2018) due to his shooting schedule, with Costner being available for fewer days as the show has progressed. But on Friday, Costner noted that he “changed” his schedule to shoot the first part of “Yellowstone” Season 5, forcing him to take focus away from his own four-part movie franchise that kicks off with “Horizon: An American Saga.”
But with no scripts written for the second part of Season 5, and a “pay or play” clause meant that Costner should have still received $12 million for that second half of Season 5 (just as he should have for the first half). According to People, when Costner was asked if he’d receive his salary for the second half of Season 5, he said, “I will probably go to court over it.” It was the Season 5 split, he said, calling it a “long, hard-fought negotiation,” that led to his exit.
As for the question over whether he would have returned for a Season 6, Costner added, “I’ve been told it’s a little disappointing that [it’s] the #1 show on TV, I’m not participating,” according to People.
“I couldn’t help them any more. We tried to negotiate, they offered me less money than previous seasons, there were issues with the creative,” he said. Ultimately, when he suggested what he remembers to be $12 million to return, Costner says “Yellowstone” — which is produced by Paramount Global’s MTV Entertainment Studios and 101 Studios, with Taylor Sheridan as executive producer — walked away. (As Variety reported in 2022, Costner had become one of the highest-paid actors in episodic TV.)
Variety has reached out to MTV Entertainment Studios as well as Costner’s attorneys, but all have either declined comment or not returned requests for comment.
In May, Paramount announced that “Yellowstone” would officially come to an end, and that the final episodes would come in November. (That timing, of course, is no longer possible due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.) The company also announced that an untitled sequel series has been ordered and would debut on Paramount Network and later on Paramount+. (Again, the timing for that was supposed to be December, now it’s TBD.) Matthew McConaughey had been expected to star in a new show that would feature several characters from “Yellowstone.”
“’Yellowstone’ has been the cornerstone on which we have launched an entire universe of global hits – from ‘1883’ to ‘Tulsa King,’ and I am confident our ‘Yellowstone’ sequel will be another big hit, thanks to the brilliant creative mind of Taylor Sheridan and our incredible casts who bring these shows to life,” Chris McCarthy, president & CEO of Showtime and MTV Entertainment Studios, said at the time.
Best of Variety