Rumors are flying that Kevin Costner no longer wants much to do with Yellowstone, and the series could be in trouble.
Fans of various prestige television shows often argue about what keeps audiences coming back: is it the top-shelf writing and directing, or should we give more credit to perfect casting? So far, Yellowstone has enjoyed all three, and audiences have been particularly excited to see Kevin Costner making a rare television appearance. Now, though, The Hollywood Reporter reports rumors that Costner wants to limit his involvement with the show and may leave altogether, which is almost certain to spell doom for this popular series.
Right now, the second half of Yellowstone’s current season is set to debut this summer, but according to the rumors, Kevin Costner has been refusing to work for more than one week on the show. There are numerous possible reasons for this, including the fact that Costner seems more devoted to another Paramount Western project, Horizon, which is the famous actor’s real passion project. Regardless of his passion, though, Costner departing Yellowstone could have a negative ripple effect across the entire shared universe that Taylor Sheridan has worked so hard to create.
For example, even though sources close to Yellowstone say that Kevin Costner leaving wouldn’t immediately end the show, it could still lead to a slow death spiral. It’s not uncommon for audiences to tune into a show because of their love for a particular actor, and the sudden deaths of characters (often tied to high-profile actor departures) inevitably drive certain fans away. Costner is the biggest star in the show by a country mile, with a legion of devoted fans, so those fans calling it quits on this Western franchise could hurt the show’s numbers even as it delays filming for the second half of the season.
Yellowstone is already starting to feel the effect of Kevin Costner’s apparent lack of interest. For example, the veteran actor won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama Series, but he couldn’t attend the actual ceremony because his home was flooded at the time. A little over a month later, he offered an acceptance speech from his bed that notably made no mention of the show, Taylor Sheridan, or any of the extended Paramount crew that arguably helped him win the award.
In other words, Yellowstone already seems to be the last thing on Kevin Costner’s mind, and it looks like he already has half his foot out the door. While it’s possible to try to write him out of the show, this will likely cause the franchise even more harm. One of the reasons audiences tune into prestige television is because of the carefully crafted long-term plots, and once they realize those plots are held hostage by the capricious whims of bored actors, those audiences are likelier to find another show to sink their teeth into.
While there would be no ideal time for Yellowstone to lose Kevin Costner, now is literally the worst possible time he could make his exit. Paramount Global has previously signaled that it wants to focus more on franchises and spinoffs, and the shared Yellowstone universe is at the heart of that entire plan. But it looks like this old cowboy is ready to head off into the sunset, and he’s not afraid to take the rest of the cast and crew with him.