Why 'Yellowstone' Creator Taylor Sheridan Is 'Disappointed' Kevin Costner Is Leaving the Show

Costner also reportedly wants to approve how he's written off the show.

Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan is sharing how he feels about Kevin Costner leaving the hit Paramount show.

In a lengthy profile in The Hollywood Reporter, Sheridan expressed that his opinion of Costner as an actor hasn't "altered" but he's "disappointed" with what his exit means to the character in the hit series that has spawned, at least for now, two hugely successful spinoffs in 1883 and 1923.

"My opinion of Kevin as an actor hasn't altered," Sheridan tells the outlet. "His creation of John Dutton is symbolic and powerful ... and 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."

"I'm disappointed," Sheridan continues. "It truncates the closure of his character. It doesn't alter it, but it truncates it."

After ET reported that Costner, who reportedly earns $1.2 million per episode, was set to leave Yellowstone after the end of season 5, Paramount Network revealed that the series will end in November, following the release of its remaining episodes. The explosive first half of season 5 of Yellowstone came to end on New Year's Day, with plans for the second half of season 5 initially slated to return in June. Those plans, however, fell apart amid alleged drama between Costner and Sheridan over the actor's filming commitments to the remaining episodes of the current season.  

Costner has been busy working on Horizon, a Western project he's set to star and direct. The Hollywood Reporter's James Hibberd spoke to ET's Kevin Frazier after the profile came out, and shared two sticking points that proved to be the deciding factor in Costner's exit.

"In the story my sources give two points of view about Costner leaving, one point of view is that Costner kept waiting for scripts and got frustrated that the showrunner, Taylor Sheridan, kept being so focused on his other shows," Hibberd tells ET. "Another point of view is that Costner got his four-movie deal to make his longtime passion project and just increasingly blew off the show."

It was then reported in May that Costner would not commit to returning to film the second half of season 5 of Yellowstone unless he approved how his role was written off the show.

In what it called an "amusing wrinkle," Puck News reported that Costner wants to feel "comfortable with how his John Dutton character is written out of the franchise" and that he "wants to prevent what Shonda Rhimes did to Patrick Dempsey, killing off the race car-driving Grey's Anatomy star in an F-you car accident. So [Yellowstone creator Taylor] Sheridan may not be able to dispose of his Western-loving leading man via a kick from an angry horse."

In his interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sheridan shared he wouldn't take the Shonda Rhimes route.

"I don't do f**k-you car crashes," Sheridan says. "Whether [Dutton's fate] inflates [Costner's] ego or insults is collateral damage that I don't factor in with regard to storytelling."

As for the so-called scheduling conflict with Costner, Sheridan scoffed at the notion that he could have done something differently to prevent Costner's shocking exit.

"I didn't do anything to begin with!" he says. "I don't dictate the schedule. I don't determine when things start filming. I don't determine when things air. Those are made by people way above me. My sphere of controls is the content -- that's it. No production of mine has ever waited on me. Believe me, I begged [for more time] with 1883. I begged with 1923. Begged. Nope, 'Airdate locked; for what we pay you, figure it out.' And I don't stand in a corner and go, 'I'm not going to do it.'"

Sheridan also touched on the upcoming second half of season 5 of Yellowstone, suggesting that the second half may see as many as 10 episodes (though it may not air in November as previously reported due to the ongoing writers' strike).

"If I think it takes 10 episodes to wrap it up, they'll give me 10," Sheridan says. "It'll be as long as it needs to be."

Hibberd tells ET that it's "looking more likely" that the show will return sometime in 2024 due to the writer's strike, which has also meant the scripts are not yet complete. That the scripts are not finished also means the window to shoot Yellowstone continues to get smaller.

"[Yellowstone] can't be shot in the winter due to the weather," Hibberd said. "So, even if the writer's strike ends the window to shoot the show is narrow."

As for Matthew McConaughey entering the Sheridan-verse, The Hollywood Reporter reports McConaughey "is in late-stage negotiations for a Yellowstone follow-up."

"He seems like a natural fit," says Sheridan of McConaughey. "We had a few conversations over the years, and spitballed a few ideas. Then he started watching Yellowstone and responded to it. He was like, 'I want to do that.' And by 'that' he meant diving into a raw world clashing up against the modern world. And then I said, 'Buddy, that we can do.'"