Costner was a core part of "Yellowstone" through the first half of season 5.
Kevin Costner's John Dutton is Montana governor in 'Yellowstone' Season 5 trailer Kevin Costner's John Dutton is sworn in as governor of Montana in "Yellowstone" season 5. The trailer shows explosive politics. Credit: USA TODAY
The Oscar-winning actor, 68, who plays patriarch John Dutton on the Taylor Sheridan series, spoke about his "Yellowstone" departure for the first time Friday during a Santa Barbara, California, child support hearing. The hearing stemmed from Costner's ongoing divorce from estranged wife Christine Baumgartner.
Costner testified that a “long, hard-fought negotiation” over splitting season 5 of the Western saga into two parts was the final straw forcing his decision to leave the Paramount Network series, according to People.com (and other outlets).
“I’ve been told it’s a little disappointing that (it’s) the number one show on TV (and) I’m not participating,” Costner said on the stand, adding. “I’ll probably go to court over it.”
Costner was a core part of "Yellowstone" through the first half of season 5, which ended Jan. 1 with Costner serving as Montana's governor. But Costner is also producing, directing, starring and co-written another Western, the four-part movie series "Horizon: An American Saga."
Costner said he “changed” his movie schedule to shoot the first part of "Yellowstone" season 5 once the decision was made to split the season in two, adding, “That’s a big deal in this world.”
Asked on the stand about returning for "Yellowstone" season 6, Costner said it was "complicated," according to Fox News.
"We did negotiate," he explained. "There were issues about creative. I tried to break the log jam. They walked away."
Costner said that he was offered $24 million to star in "Yellowstone" seasons five, six and seven before scheduling broke down and the show was canceled.
In May, Paramount officially announced the end of Kevin Costner-led "Yellowstone" original series after five seasons following the completion of the second half of season 5. The show will be followed by a new franchise sequel (likely starring Matthew McConaughey) with "Yellowstone" in the title.
Days later, Costner announced he was divorcing Baumgartner, his wife of nearly 19 years. The couple have two sons, ages 14 and 15, and a 12-year-old daughter together. Costner also has four adult children from previous relationships.
Sheridan, 53, told The Hollywood Reporter in June that he was "disappointed" about Costner's "Yellowstone" departure. “It truncates the closure of his character. It doesn’t alter it, but it truncates it," Sheridan said.
Despite speculation about tension in the relationship, Sheridan praised Costner's role which has become the cornerstone of the "Yellowstone" universe.
"His creation of John Dutton is symbolic and powerful," said Sheridan. "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.