Skip to main contentSkip to footer
Digital Cover film

Yellowstone: Kevin Costner’s exit drama explained

Kevin Costner isn’t coming back for Yellowstone season 5 part 2 - but what happened?

Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
May 23, 2024
Share this:

Yellowstone season five part two has finally commenced filming but, sadly for fans, Kevin Costner is not involved, and will not be returning to the show at the patriarch at the core of the story, ranch owner John Dutton. With reports of plenty of behind-the-scenes drama, contract issues and an explainer for Kevin Costner himself, here’s what went down… 

Back in early 2023, it was reported that Kevin had left Yellowstone, despite having a contract for two more seasons, due to a fallout with the show’s creator, Taylor Sheridan, about his filming schedule for another project. Kevin’s lawyer refuted claims that Kevin was only available to film for a very short period, stating: “The idea that Kevin was only willing to work one week on the second half of season five of Yellowstone is an absolute lie.” 

WATCH: Everything you need to know about the cast of Yellowstone

Yellowstone ending with season 5 

As such, it was confirmed that Yellowstone would conclude after five seasons, with the show instead leading into a spin-off starring Matthew McConaughey. President & CEO of Showtime and MTV Entertainment Studios said at the time: “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.

Matthew McConaughey will be joining the Yellowstone universe© Getty
Matthew McConaughey will be joining the Yellowstone universe

“The Dutton story continues, picking up where Yellowstone leaves off in another epic tale. We are thrilled to bring this new journey to audiences around the world.” 

Kevin Costner in Yellowstone© Paramount
Kevin Costner in Yellowstone

The drama came to a head at the PaleyFest in April 2023, where Kevin failed to make an appearance, appearing to confirm reports that he had left the show. However, the president of scripted at MTV Entertainment Studios Keith Cox spoke about him at the event, saying: “We are very confident he will continue with the show.” However, Kevin officially quit the drama shortly afterwards. 

Taylor Sheridan’s response 

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Taylor shared his perspective on the fall-out which ended the drama prematurely. He said: “My last conversation with Kevin was that he had this passion project he wanted to direct. 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.”

Kevin Costner speaks during 'A conversation with Kevin Costner from Paramount Network and Yellowstone' during the Cannes Lions Festival 2018© Getty
Kevin has yet to address any Yellowstone news

He continued: “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.” 

Kevin Costner sits in a chair as John Dutton in Yellowstone scene
Kevin Costner sits in a chair as John Dutton in Yellowstone scene

Kevin then told Entertainment Tonight that he’d love to return as John, saying: “I thought I was going to make seven [seasons] but right now we’re at five. So how it works out – I hope it does – but they’ve got a lot of different shows going on. Maybe it will. Maybe this will circle back to me. If it does and I feel really comfortable with [it], I’d love to do it.”

Kevin Costner’s response 

Kevin opened up about the situation several months later at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2024, which he attended for the opening of his movie, Horizon: An American Saga. 

Speaking to Deadline, he explained: "I haven't felt good about it the last year, what with the way they've talked about it. It wasn't truthful.

Kevin Costner and Kelly Reilly from YELLOWSTONE © CBS Photo Archive
Kevin Costner and Kelly Reilly from YELLOWSTONE

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.” 

He continued: “If you know me well enough, I made Yellowstone the priority, and to insinuate anything else would be wrong. I did not initiate any of those things. They did. They were doing a tap dance… I don't know why they didn't stick up for me… I left my movie to be on time for them for 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.” 

Kevin Costner Horizon press conference© Getty
Kevin at the Horizon press conference

Speaking about his disappointment that the production didn’t defend him against the reports, he continued: “I’ve never missed a day of work. I've never left before fulfilling my contractual obligations. A lot of times, I stay as much as I can… ‘Why don't you stick up for me?’ I went and sold this thing for you. I was going to only do one season. I made it for three. I fulfilled three.” 

Sign up to HELLO Daily! for the best royal, celebrity and lifestyle coverage

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.

More TV and Film

See more