Kevin costner in yellowstone

Many factors contributed to the decline of the western – overproduction; the rise of feminism; the increasing remoteness of the frontier experience; sensitivity to the feelings of Native Americans; an over-insistent realism; a pervasive cynicism; the makers bringing into question the very genre itself through films where the heroes were little better than those they opposed.

With Open Range, his fourth western and the second he’s directed, Kevin Costner is attempting, with considerable success, to return to the pre-spaghetti, pre-Peckinpah period of the Fifties and Sixties. This was a time of considered optimism when Anthony Mann, Delmer Daves, John Sturges and John Ford were making movies about men of honour, who were unlikely to end up in the dust, their values in tatters.

Open Range, in fact, begins by evoking the start of Ford’s first postwar western, My Darling Clementine, where the Earp brothers drive their cows towards Tombstone. Here, a long line of cattle is strung out across the rolling prairie with mountains towering above. Two middle-aged horsemen, moving with authority, survey their herd; a younger man is down among the cattle; a cheerful fat man drives the accompanying wagon.

A rich, melodic theme by Michael Kamen, both epic and elegiac, plays on the soundtrack. In the distance, storm clouds gather, a warning of danger ahead and a token of the hard lives these men have chosen to live in this picturesque, unforgiving country. It is a beautiful start to a carefully paced and richly satisfying movie. Only later do we learn – inevitably from a grave-marker – that the year is 1882.

The two older men are Charley Waite (Kevin Costner), a reformed gunfighter who became a hardened killer during the Civil War, and Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall), the head of the outfit with whom Charlie has been riding for 10 years. The younger men are the Mexican-American known as Button (Diego Luna), a rather good-looking 16-year-old who’s like an adopted son, and the cheerful, portly Mose (Abraham Benrubi), who has gained self-respect through being trusted by Charley and Boss.

They’re like a family and they want to live a simple, nomadic existence, driving their cattle on the range. But the days of this way of life are numbered. Farmers stake out smallholdings, and big ranchers with corporate backing from the east are taking over the land and making war on the free grazers.

There is a magnificent image in the movie when Charley and Boss ride out to confront four menacing horsemen who stand atop a hill, white flour-bags masking their faces as if they were the Ku Klux Klan. In the foreground of the shot are a couple of strands of barbed wire, the ugly invention of little more than a decade before that stands for exclusion, possession, pain.

These horsemen are the hired guns of the Irish immigrant cattle baron, Baxter (Michael Gambon), who runs the local town through his control of the sheriff, and intends to make an example of Boss and Charley. They are prepared to ride on in peace, but Baxter, all brutality and bluster, provokes them into making a stand.

This they do out of respect for their friends and as a moral duty. There is, however, nothing pious about these men. They are stern, but not humourless; fierce but controlled; hard, yet capable of risking themselves to save a threatened dog.

Charley and Boss dislike towns and the settled life, but they meet and are attracted by the acceptable face of civilisation, Sue (Annette Bening), the fortysomething sister of the town’s doctor. She looks like the face on a Victorian cameo and serves them tea in china cups the handles of which – an interesting metaphor here – are too small for the cowboys to hold.

Sue draws out Boss to the extent of making him reveal that he’s a longtime widower whose wife and child died of typhus. In Charley, she finds a kindred troubled spirit and a sweet, chaste romance develops. As with most women in the traditional western, Sue is the voice of reason, but she’s untypical in her recognition that there are times when compromise doesn’t work and men must resort to violence.

The film’s inevitable showdown comes in the muddy streets of the raw, unfinished Harmonville, for merly Fort Harmon but deserted by the cavalry now the Indian wars are over in this part of the country. It is magnificently staged with a slow, humorous build-up as Charley and Boss prepare to face death. A superb prolonged shoot-out starts at the town’s corral and is followed by an extended coda of great warmth and charm. For less than a minute, the action goes into slow-motion, a climactic montage accompanied by a quasi-Wagnerian theme.

This is a truly outstanding film, with great performances, particularly from Duvall (his sixth big-screen western in 34 years). Craig Storper’s spare script is so good that the odd bad line sticks out like a sore trigger-finger, and James Muro makes a fine job of his first assignment as director of photography.

As an old-timer running the local forge and livery stable, the late Michael Jeter makes a memorable final screen appearance.

Yellowstone is soapy trash that badly wants to be taken seriously: EW review

Paramount Network C+ type

  • TV Show

Network Genre

  • Drama,
  • Western

I am watching the second episode of Yellowstone, and unless I have missed something, a main character has inadvertently discovered dinosaur bones.

When I reviewed the pilot of Yellowstone for our print magazine, I thought I had a somewhat clear perspective on its best traits and most obvious flaws. The Paramount Network modern western (debuting June 20) stars Kevin Costner as Montana ranchlord John Dutton. He’s power-struggling against various forces: government, corporate development, the nearby Native American reservation, his own adult children.

Yellowstone is partly shot in Montana, and the pilot gives a keen sense of Big Sky Country place. It also casts a wide narrative net. The governor of Montana is a character, while Jill Hennessy, one of my favorite people on Earth, plays a senator. There are four Dutton children, three of them dangerously boring. The fourth is Beth, a maneating boozehound tycoon played with Sin City hyperbole by Kelly Reilly.

The Yellowstone pilot reminded me, intangibly, of Boardwalk Empire, the HBO drama which defined one of the most popular modes of TV drama in this decade: Expensive to look at, painfully slow, lovingly violent, overly dedicated to uncovering the secret sadness lingering in the heart of murderous egomaniacs, generally pointless. But I watched every episode of Boardwalk Empire, curse me, so I gave the Yellowstone pilot a B. If the show had a problem, I figured, it would be glacial pacing, too many postcard visions of Montana, too many big speeches.

But now I’m watching the second episode, and John’s son Kayce (Luke Grimes) has just discovered dinosaur bones in his backyard.

He discovered them because there was a tree stump on his property that was bothering him, and he tried to pull it out with a tractor, and then he just used dynamite. And now John himself is here, theorizing that the dinosaur was probably killed by a prehistoric shark. One thing I wasn’t expecting this month was Kevin Costner talking about dinosaur-eating sharks.

I guess that maybe Montanans do just discover dinosaur bones in their backyard, sometimes? But Yellowstone did not necessarily seem like the kind of show where people would discover dinosaur bones, and then the next episode not mention the dinosaur bones anymore, as if “discovering dinosaur bones” was just typical Tuesday stuff. Kayce has a young son, Tate (Brecken Merrill). If I were Tate’s age, I would spend the rest of the year only talking about those dinosaur bones. I would make every show-and-tell about dinosaur bones. The teacher would assign me To Kill a Mockingbird for a book report, and I would explain how Boo Radley is like the fossil of a velociraptor, and then let everyone touch my beloved dinosaur bones.

Strange things keep happening to Kayce. Later in episode 2, he’s going for a drive with his wife (Kelsey Asbille), and they’re driving by a random house, and that house explodes. “Meth lab’s my guess,”Kayce drawls, as he runs toward the explosion. So now Yellowstone is just a show where houses blow up sometimes.

And then a little later, Kayce’s driving down a road, and sees a wolf crossing in front of him. (I think it’s a wolf. It could be a coyote.) Kayce stops, and stares, and a large truck smashes through the wolf, and thus dies the wolf. Jesus, maybe it’s a metaphor.

Meanwhile, Kayce’s sister Beth wakes up one day in a pile of pill bottles. And she takes a publicly naked bath in a trough drinking champagne straight from a bottle. And she tells her brother Jamie (Wes Bentley) to “BE A F—ING MAN!” while she’s beating him up.

In sequences like this, Yellowstone reveals an unexpected penchant for the luridcrous. But co-creator Taylor Sheridan has written and directed every episode I’ve seen so far, and when he’s not indulging himself with random gunfights, he has a weakness for wannabe poeticism, letting his characters muse darkly. Everybody gets one portentous line per scene. “What are your thoughts on Judgement Day?” “All men are bad, but some of us try real hard to be good.” “You killed the bodies, now you kill the souls.” “Not a thing on this planet stays where it is.” “I am the past, catching up with you.” “I’m in no mood to explain why we don’t have the same peepee.”

Sorry wait, what was that last one? There are so many long scenes of manly men talking how, like, the future is the vengeance the past takes on the present. And then someone will say something tremendously goofy. Often it’s Beth, and Reilly energetically plays her impossible character. Introduced in the pilot as a tough modern business lady, she spends the next couple episodes swanning through her daddy’s ranch, wearing a bathrobe if she’s wearing anything.

You feel she’s finding the right tone for this material, halfway to Dorothy Malone’s ravenous heiress in Written on the Wind. Everyone else is half-asleep. Costner looks the part of the frontier monarch, but he’s coasting on gravitas fumes. Gil Birmingham gives a resonant performance as the Chief of the nearby reservation, and yet the show seems less interested in him than it should be. This is, it turns out, another “rich family with problems” primetime soap, so embarrassed by its own soapiness that it keeps trying to sermonize itself toward importance.

Oscar-nominated for the wonderful Hell or High Water, Sheridan also wrote 2015’s overblown Sicario and last year’s Wind River. Yellowstone debuts on June 20, nine days before the Sheridan-scripted Sicario sequel.

The pile-up doesn’t do him favors. He’s starting to repeat himself, overindulging base swagger. The money line in the Sicario 2 trailer is Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro talking about international security like a couple hotshot screenwriters pitching a higher-stakes sequel:

BROLIN: “You’re gonna help us start a war.”

DEL TORO: “With who?

BROLIN: “Everyone.”

At the end of the Yellowstone pilot, Beth says to her father: “Just tell me who to fight.” And John says: “Everyone.” Watch out, everyone! C+

  • TV Show
  • 2
  • Drama,
  • Western
  • 06/20/18
  • Taylor Sheridan
  • Kevin Costner,
  • Luke Grimes,
  • Kelly Reilly
  • Paramount Network
Complete Coverage
  • Yellowstone

Review: Kevin Costner’s ‘Yellowstone’ is all style and no substance

Kelly Lawler USA TODAY Published 8:47 AM EDT Jun 20, 2018

Countless beautiful vistas are captured in “Yellowstone,” the big-budget Western from Paramount Network that lured Kevin Costner to his first regular TV role. There are endless glimpses of the sweeping Montana countryside, the very land that you imagine “America, the Beautiful” was written about; idyllic scenes of cowboys on horseback rounding up cattle; of Native Americans dancing to traditional music; of babbling rivers and brooks.

It’s all very pretty, but it doesn’t conceal a rather pokey and dull series (Wednesday, 9 EDT/PDT, ★★ out of four). “Yellowstone” is a rote family drama that’s too self-important for its own good.

“Yellowstone” follows the Dutton family, run with an iron hand by patriarch John (Costner), a Montana rancher and landowner who senses an assault on his way of life by a city-slicker developer (Danny Huston) and the new leader of a local reservation (Gil Birmingham) who wants to fight more aggressively for Native Americans’ rights.

Kevin Costner as John Dutton on “Yellowstone.” KEVIN LYNCH/PARAMOUNT NETWOR

Dutton is disappointed by all of his children, yet needs them to keep the ranch going. Jamie (Wes Bentley) is a lawyer with political ambitions; Lee (Dave Annable), a ranch hand who can’t quite master his leadership skills; Beth (Kelly Reilly) is a cold Wall Street type who’s back home to help out; and Kayce (Luke Grimes) is the black sheep, a cowboy who lives on a reservation with his Native American wife and their son.

More: Kevin Costner brings Western cred to ranch drama ‘Yellowstone’

There are nuggets of a more exciting show, similar to HBO’s Prohibition-era mob drama “Boardwalk Empire” and other series about corrupt governments and feuding criminal dynasties. John is no crime lord, but he’s not a law-abiding citizen, either. The ranch has all the markers of a gang, from violent recruitment tactics to brands that identify its members.

Yet the series can’t make its central clan interesting or sympathetic, from the bland Dutton sons to the galloping ranchers and the selfish motivations behind John’s scheming. The plot meanders into random and confusing places. At one point, a meth lab explodes. At another, Kayce unearths dinosaur bones.

Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes) and Monica Long (Kelsey Asbille) on “Yellowstone.” KEVIN LYNCH/PARAMOUNT NETWOR

The series spins its latter-day “cowboys and Indians” narrative by putting the Dutton family and its vast resources in direct conflict with the reservation over a herd of cattle, which has deadly consequences on both sides. The writers make the hugely ill-advised decision to paint the Native Americans with a broadly villainous brush, an offensive stereotype of a marginalized culture that lacks nuance and feels at odds with the detailed, loving portrait of the white ranchers.

Lee Dutton (Dave Annable), Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley), Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes) and John Dutton (Kevin Costner) on “Yellowstone.” Paramount Network

All 10 episodes of the series were written and directed by co-creator Taylor Sheridan, who was behind “Hell or High Water” and “Sicario,” and it’s easy to see his touch in the glacial pacing, family soap opera and breathtaking landscapes. But “Yellowstone” might have had a better life as a film. A tight and sharper script might have excised some of the series’ ponderous and outlandish moments. A somber shot of a coyote that is killed seconds later might be meant as a metaphor, but it seems like pretentious filler, stretching the series’ seemingly interminable length.

It’s lovely to see Costner’s dour glare on the small screen, and there’s no denying that “Yellowstone” is gorgeous. But as a seasoned rancher like John would surely agree, style only gets you so far. There’s got to be something more substantive when you dig.

Besides dinosaur bones.

Published 8:47 AM EDT Jun 20, 2018

The first scene in Paramount Network’s Yellowstone shows Kevin Costner’s John Dutton emerge from a steaming car crash, approach a dying horse, apologize to it, then shoot it in the head. From there, Yellowstone only gets more bananas.

The series is part-western, part-drama, part-soap opera, and one hundred percent insane. Airing on Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. ET, Yellowstone managed to become the second most-watched cable series last year, only behind The Walking Dead. The series is an enigma—a melodrama that relies as much on problematic stereotypes of “Cowboys vs Indians” as much as it does on sweeping clichéd speeches. Yet, somehow, it broke through as a commercial success on a time when cable TV shows are in decline. So, for anyone curious about what this phenomenon is, or anyone who simply needs a reminder, here’s an overview of what happened in Season One.

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The General Rundown

Yellowstone, developed by Taylor Sheridan (who wrote the critically acclaimed Sicario and Hell or High Water), follows the Dutton family, who are the descendants of early 19th century Montana settlers. They own and operate Yellowstone Ranch, which is the largest continual ranch in the U.S. The Duttons, are consistently at odds with land developers who want to break up their land, and a native community in Montana called the Broken Rock Reservation (which the show problematically only refers to as “The Indians”). Sometimes, the natives of Broken Rock are seen beating on drums and sporting headdresses while wearing suits. Other times, they explore the complications of fracking on their community. Yet as heavy-handed as that sounds, that only covers the people of Broken Rock. This is ultimately the story of the Duttons. As John says, in what becomes a heavy-handed norm, “Last long enough for your children to continue the cycle and maybe, just maybe, the land is still there when a tree sprouts from you.”

John has four kids. Jamie (Wes Bentley) is a lawyer who is the resident city slicker. He is loyal to his family, but he becomes further and further estranged when he disagrees with his family’s direction for the future of Yellowstone. Beth (Kelly Reilly) is the Dutton sister—a smart financier driven almost entirely by manipulation, rage, and pills. Kayce (Luke Grimes) is initially the most distant Dutton, living with his Native American wife, Monica, and son on a reservation. But that changes quickly as Kayce moves into the role of henchman for his father. Lee (David Annabelle) is just a cool cowboy brother who wants to continue his father’s legacy, but he gets killed by Monica’s brother at the end of episode one, so there’s that.

The cast is rounded out by Thomas Rainwater, the new chief of the local Broken Rock Reservation, and Dan Jenkins, a developer who wants to start new projects on the Dutton’s land.

What Happened in Season One?

Yellowstone Ranch is going toe-to-toe with the Broken Rock reservation, who believe that the boundaries put in place by the Dutton family are simply manmade. In their minds, they believe they still can claim rights to a good portion of the Dutton family’s land and the livestock that lives on it. The ongoing battle quickly comes to a head in Episode One as John’s son Lee is murdered by a Broken Rock resident after some cattle escaped.

The rest of Season One follows the slow downward spiral of the Dutton family. To make matters worse, while John leads the charge against Broken Rock, he’s also tasked with keeping an eye on Dan, a land developer on a mission to purchase Yellowstone Ranch for development purposes. Oh, and John has a secret cancer diagnosis that he’s kept to himself. Before he can succumb to his cancer though, he has to make sure his children have his business in order, and that’s no easy task.

Kelly Reilly plays Beth Dutton, the Dutton sister who struggles through substance abuse throughout much of Season One. Paramount

Deeply loyal to the family legacy, Beth takes the lead regarding Yellowstone’s business moves. She spends equal time courting and threatening Dan Jenkins to make sure that he stays far away from the Dutton family ranch. However, when she’s not conducting business, she’s sleeping with one of her father’s henchmen and guzzling pills, alcohol, and cigarettes. She also, in one scene, runs out into the night and yells at some chickens. Her erratic behavior is in part because she feels responsible for the death of her mother, who died after a spooked horse fell on top of her.

Kayce, who wanted to live in peace on the Broken Rock reservation, finds himself doing just the opposite after avenging his brother’s death. The catalyst, of course, all boils down to his brother’s death, which was carried out by Robert Long, Monica’s brother. That causes quite a rift between the Dutton family and those who live on Broken Rock. Kayce kills Robert and continues to spiral, enlisting himself as muscle for his father. Everything shifts again though when Monica inadvertently gets caught in a schoolyard fight (!?) at the school she teaches at. After she suffers a brain injury and nearly dies in the hospital, Kayce decides that family should take precedent in his life. That doesn’t shake out so great when the pressure becomes too much for Monica. Kayce moves home and becomes a full-time henchman for his father, kicking things off by putting Dan Jenkins on a horse with a noose around his neck and then hanging him. Very casual, Kayce!

Luke Grimes plays Kayce Dutton, son of John Dutton and husband of Monica, played by Kelsey Asbille. Paramount

Meanwhile, Jamie attempts to fill the role as the most moral Dutton, which isn’t a high bar to surpass considering the track record of everyone else in this family. Jamie is a lawyer who uses his power to protect Yellowstone until he’s tapped by the Governor of Montana as next in line to be Attorney General. As this is happening though, a journalist is looking into the Dutton family and their criminal activities, including, but not limited to, murder and manipulation of government officials. Meanwhile, John thinks that Jamie’s career isn’t in the best interest of the family, so he issues an ultimatum to his son: abandon politics or get cut from the family. At the end of the season, Jamie choose the latter and is written out of the Yellowstone business as he ascends closer to the Attorney General role. At the close of the season, Jamie agrees to speak to the journalist, attempting to put Yellowstone first, even if it’s at the detriment of his father.

Where Does That Leave Season Two?

Season One of Yellowstone didn’t utilize Kevin Costner nearly as much as you’d think, so the greatest hope for Season Two is more of John Dutton and what makes him tick. What you should expect is an even more unhinged Kayce. He’s moved back to the ranch following his and Monica’s estrangement, so he has nothing left to lose. For the first time in the series, Beth started showing cracks in her own façade in the finale, seeming to doubt her father’s brutish tactics regarding the business. And with Jamie? It shouldn’t be too long until he attempts to double back and save the relationship he’s broken with his family, if it’s not too late already. And perhaps we’ll finally find out just how far the Duttons have previously bent the law in their favor. As any of John’s dramatic speeches suggest, it’s only a matter of time before the Dutton family is required to pay for their sins.

Yellowstone’s Season Two will debut simultaneously on the Paramount Network (which used to be Spike), as well as CMT on Wednesday, June 19 at 10:00pm ET.

Justin Kirkland Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he focuses on entertainment, television, and pop culture.

Hatfields & McCoys

It’s the true American story of a legendary family feud—one that spanned decades and nearly launched a war between Kentucky and West Virginia. Hatfields & McCoys, a three-part miniseries, showcases an all-star cast led by Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton. It chronicles a clash of clans that inspired passion, vengeance, courage, sacrifice, crimes and accusations, while forever transforming the two families and the region they lived in.

The Hatfield-McCoy saga begins with Devil Anse Hatfield (Costner) and Randall McCoy (Paxton). Close friends and comrades until near the end of the Civil War, they return to their neighboring homes—Hatfield in West Virginia, McCoy just across the Tug River border in Kentucky—to increasing tensions, misunderstandings and resentments that soon explode into all-out warfare between their families. As hostilities grow, friends, neighbors and outside forces join the fight, bringing the two states to the brink of another civil war.

In 2012, Hatfields & McCoys won five Emmy Awards including honors for Costner (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie) and Tom Berenger (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie). Costner also won a Golden Globe (Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television) in 2013.

This six-hour series features some of Hollywood’s top talents:

  • Kevin Costner as Devil Anse Hatfield
  • Bill Paxton as Randall McCoy
  • Joe Absolom as Selkirk McCoy
  • Matt Barr as Johnse Hatfield
  • Tom Berenger as Jim Vance
  • Powers Boothe as Wall Hatfield
  • Ben Cartwright as Parris McCoy
  • Max Deacon as Calvin McCoy
  • Noel Fisher as Cotton Top Mounts
  • Jonathan Fredrick as Jefferson McCoy
  • Jilon VanOver Ghai as Ransom Bray
  • Michael Greco as Bill Staton
  • Katie Griffiths as Alifair McCoy
  • Boyd Holbrook as William “Cap” Hatfield
  • Andrew Howard as Bad Frank Phillips
  • Lloyd Hutchinson as Floyd Hatfield
  • Tyler Jackson as Bud McCoy
  • Michael Jibson as Phamer McCoy
  • Jack Laskey as Sam McCoy
  • Jena Malone as Nancy McCoy
  • Tom McKay as Jim McCoy
  • Damian O’Hare as Ellison Hatfield
  • Sarah Parish as Levicy Hatfield
  • Greg Patmore as Good ‘Lias Hatfield
  • Lindsay Pulsipher as Roseanna McCoy
  • Sam Reid as Tolbert McCoy
  • Ronan Vibert as Perry Cline
  • Mare Winningham as Sally McCoy

Paramount Network has slotted Wednesday, June 19, 10 PM for the season 2 premiere of its hit drama series Yellowstone, starring Kevin Costner. The network also released a first-look photo (above) and teaser clip with the date announcement (below).

Yellowstone was the most-watched new cable series of 2018, averaging 5.1 million total viewers per episode, and ranking second across all cable TV series for the year. The series also is going global after Paramount Network’s sister international channel picked up the series. As previously announced, Paramount Network International acquired seasons 1 and 2 of the drama series, with launch set for this spring on Paramount’s channels in Nordics, Hungary and Poland, followed by UK, Latin America, Spain and Italy. It will also be available on Paramount+ in select territories.

Co-created by Taylor Sheridan and John Linson, the Costner-fronted series also stars Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Cole Hauser, Kelsey Asbille, Brecken Merrill, Jefferson White and Gil Birmingham.

Yellowstone is co-produced and co-financed by 101 Studios. John Linson, Art Linson, Taylor Sheridan, Kevin Costner and David C. Glasser executive produce.

Kevin Costner May Never Make Another Series Like ‘Yellowstone’

Kevin Costner doesn’t know why viewers are flocking to “Yellowstone.” He doesn’t break his projects down as “intellectual” or “psychological” experiences. They’re emotional journeys, and the characters guiding them are his primary concern. So if, say, his character in the Paramount Network western, John Dutton, is behaving inconsistently, that would be a problem.

“When I see behavior that’s off, it bothers me,” Costner said to IndieWire. “Maybe a sociopath watching a film goes, ‘I know who the rat is,’ and you think, ‘Yeah, in your own life, you’re a rat.’ You just don’t recognize it in yourself. I have to look at John and understand — outside the character — ‘Hey, you just crossed a line. There’s no going back from that. You sanctioned a killing.’ You can inform the storytellers, the creators, that, ‘Look, we’ve just done that, and now we have to make sure we deal with it honestly.’”

For the betterment of the show and protection of its viewers, Costner is a watchdog for any kind of unjustified behavior — not unjust behavior, mind you. As referenced above, he’s well-aware John Dutton, a powerful rancher who controls the largest contiguous swath of farmland in the United States, has made mistakes. With great power comes great risk and dangerous choices, especially in the spacious lands of prestige TV, and it’s here where Costner bucks a bit. While he knows what John has done on the show so far, he doesn’t know all of his backstory — or where it’s going.

“I would like to, but I’m not always privy to it, no,” Costner said. “Sometimes with sons or wife or whatever, that’s been really kept in a creative ball. That’s a more vulnerable way to go through life as an actor.”

Not knowing a character’s origins or what comes next is fairly typical for television actors. Some producers restrict access to scripts in order to avoid actors spoiling storylines they’re not a part of, like with “Game of Thrones,” while others merely haven’t figured out what the end of a season or series will be when they have to start production — this is very common for broadcast shows, but still prevalent elsewhere.

Prior to “Yellowstone,” Costner’s only forays into the medium were in one-and-done roles — long before he broke out on the big screen — and then later, in the three-part miniseries, “Hatfields & McCoys.” In that and in the movies, an actor knows what’s going to happen next. In “Yellowstone,” much like the ranching life it depicts, you don’t.

“It hasn’t been an easy adjustment for me,” Costner said. “I don’t like it too much.”

During Season 1, Costner would talk to writer-director Taylor Sheridan about John’s journey, but those conversations have gotten trickier as Season 2 shifted from a singular writer and director to a more traditional television production. “We’ve dealt with things,” Costner said of his conversations with Sherdian, “but this second season was a combination of a writers’ room and him, so that wasn’t exactly clear. Now it’s just a straight writers’ room.” (Sherdian and producers were unavailable to comment on this story.)


Paramount Network

Adding to the actor’s challenge, the second season has also brought about great change for John Dutton. After a ruptured ulcer almost kills him, John questions what he’s been doing with his life and swears he has “so much to undo” with his family, ranch, and maybe more. When asked if this means John is a changed man, Costner seems skeptical.

“I think so, yeah — he should be. When you say things like that, then you have to follow up that way. If you start doing things different than that, then don’t believe you,” he said.

The hard part, as Costner repeatedly brings up, is getting viewers to keep investing in the storytelling as John shifts back and forth between a man who’s done bad things and a man seeking to make up for them. Costner isn’t sure if John is capable of finding redemption — “you can’t come back from certain things you’ve done” — or if he can even find a worthy heir to take over his ranch. “I don’t think there’s anyone there capable of that,” he said.

Costner doesn’t even know if there’s any way John can be satisfied at his story’s end.

“I don’t see that path,” he said. “If keeps making these same mistakes, people will lose faith in who , even as a character. The show has to watch out for that, but in real life and in real movies, you know what you’ve done, and you just try to do the best you can. If you just keep repeating yourself, then it’s like a friend you want to like, but you don’t respect them.”

With repetition already a concern, one has to wonder how long “Yellowstone” can keep going. Two 10-episode seasons are already in the can, and Season 3 was picked up prior to the latest premiere. It continues to perform well in the ratings, as the Season 2 premiere gained viewers overall and in the key demo. It’s a hit on a new network, or at least a network that’s recently gone under rebranding, and no network can afford to lose hit shows right now.

Still, Costner pushes caution. If “Yellowstone” burns through story or betrays its characters, audiences could ride off into the sunset. “If your foot’s on the gas, you can run into a wall,” he said. “Something can run quite a while if the architecture of it is careful — not explosive, but careful. You can run a long time if you make things really compelling, but that’s a really hard thing to do. It takes a lot of thought. It’s not impulsive writing. It’s writing with a lot of extended thought.”

As for Costner, he’s already looking to move from in front of the camera to behind it.

“I’m going to play the second half of my career out directing, but it could very well be in television,” he said. “But it won’t be making it up as you go. The architecture has to be there. I’m more about that. Listen, a lot of my movies are long. I like the subplots. I like it when it all comes together — it’s made up on the fly. I don’t trust that.”


“Yellowstone” airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on Paramount Network.

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The real reason Kevin Costner agreed to star in Yellowstone

Yellowstone is hardly Costner’s first brush with the wide open spaces of the American West, or even the Western genre for that matter. The actor has frequently saddled up and hit the dusty trails over the course of his career, breaking through in the 1985 actioner Silverado before appearing in 1994’s Wyatt Earp and later producing, directing, and starring in 2003’s Open Range — a cinematic trifecta that Costner had previously tackled to the tune of two Academy Awards (Best Picture and Best Director) when his wispy, anti-Western drama Dances With Wolves graced screens back in 1990.

In 2017, Costner revealed that he had co-written a 10-hour-long Western project that he’d love to direct for the big or small screen. Speaking with Vulture and Variety in two separate interviews (via Collider), he shared, “I have another Western I’ve co-written with some people, and I would like to play out the second half of my career directing more. I’ve constantly given the movies I’ve found to directors who I thought could do it better, but there are a lot of voices in my ear from my family saying, ‘You need to direct the movies you fall in love with.’ So I think I will It’s about 10 hours long, how about that? Maybe I’ll make three features out of it. There’s a fourth one, too, so it’s truly a saga. I could do TV, or I could also make it like every six months, have a big Western that’s tied together like Jean De Florette and Manon of the Spring. I think those are fun to watch.”

As for Yellowstone, the show continues to make stark use of its stunning vistas, which serve as a fascinating backdrop and counterpoint to its modern-day setting. Though Costner hasn’t yet helmed an episode of the series, you can go ahead and add it to the list of Costner’s memorable Western ventures — with the actor bringing as much drama, presence, and majesty to the show as the Montana sky itself. You can also rest assured that Paramount Network brass and series creator Taylor Sheridan will be making full use of both on Yellowstone’s already greenlit third season.