Kevin Costner Shares His Side of the Story — Why He Left 'Yellowstone'

“We very rarely started when we said we would and we didn’t finish when we said we would. It wasn’t a trend that could continue for me.”

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May 21 2024, Published 9:43 a.m. ET

Kevin Costner leaning on a fence in 'Yellowstone.'
Source: Paramount

Thanks in large part to its star's incredible popularity, Yellowstone remains one of the biggest shows on TV. The series, which stars Kevin Costner, became a genuine phenomenon and slowly built up a bigger and bigger audience in the years after it premiered.

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In May 2023, though, rumors started to circulate that Kevin wouldn't be returning for the show's final season, which is set to be split in half. While there has been plenty of speculation about why Kevin decided to leave the show, the actor finally spoke out about the decision in a recent profile with GQ. Here's what we know.

Kevin Costner in a cowboy hat and suit in 'Yellowstone.'
Source: Paramount
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Why did Kevin Costner leave 'Yellowstone'?

According to Kevin, one of the main reasons he decided to leave was simple scheduling conflicts. While they were filming Season 5, conflicts arose over the shooting schedule. Kevin wanted to work on his Horizon saga, one of his most ambitious projects to date, which is set to release two separate films over the summer of 2024.

Ultimately, Kevin explained that he simply found himself holding time in his schedule to film the show, only to have it delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the writer's strike, or other scheduling disputes.

“We very rarely started when we said we would and we didn’t finish when we said we would," Kevin said. "And I was okay with that. I really was. I was okay with it, but it wasn’t a trend that could continue for me.”

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Kevin added that the rift only deepened when they decided to split the final season of the show in half.

“And their big plan was to suddenly do eight now and then in the fall do eight more,” he said. “I said, ‘I have a contract to do Horizon, and I have people and money.’ I think there was a belief that I couldn’t get it mounted, but I didn’t really care what anybody believed.”

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Eventually, Kevin said that he proposed they simply kill his character off so that the conflict could end.

“I said, ‘Well, if you want to kill me, if you want to do something like that,’ I said, ‘I have a week before I start. I’ll do what you want to do,'" he explained. Kevin added that the scripts for the back half of Season 5 never materialized, and they still haven't filmed the season.

Will Kevin Costner return to 'Yellowstone'?

Even as he offered a detailed explanation for his absence from the show, Kevin also teased the circumstances under which he might return.

“Well, Taylor and I know what the conditions are for coming back, and I’ll just keep that between ourselves,” he said, explaining that he felt his terms were reasonable. “And if we can’t get to it, it’s because at the end of the day, it’s unreasonable for them or something.”

“I love that character. I love that world," Kevin continued. "I am a person that is very script-oriented. And if the scripts aren’t there now, I need to know what I am. I want to make sure that the character lines up with what’s important to me too. And that’s pretty simple. That’s just between, again, Taylor and myself. Can we ever get there? I don’t know.”

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