Kevin Costner is an icon of Western films and series, stepping into a role vacated by previous cowboy king Clint Eastwood in the ’90s. Dances with Wolves, Outer Range, and of course Yellowstone, are all tentpoles within the genre and have been defined by Costner’s presence. So when he has opinions about cowboys and horses, you listen up.
Strangely enough, one of those opinions is that Costner dislikes most Westerns… but only because he loves the genre so damn much. In fact, that’s why he took on Yellowstone in the first place. “I’m not a fan of most Westerns. I’m only a fan of about five or ten,” he said, pausing to think about what he considered the best Westerns to be. “I won’t tolerate bad language (meaning the literacy) of the Western on TV or film.”
He continued, “I hate it. I don’t like it when it’s done, I don’t. I think there’s such a great opportunity because the architecture of a Western should be to frighten you. Too often movies start with 50 people dead and that gives that person a right to a revenge killing,” he concluded, speaking on Good Morning America ahead of the show’s second sesaon.
Costner’s certainly correct in his judgment there. Because the success of the best movies in the Western genre often followed a revenge format (such as something like True Grit), there was a quick oversaturation of those types of films leading to a decline in quality. The focus would be on the action and gunfights, rather than the landscape and characters, and you can see in Costner’s own Western movies that there’s a broader focus on the frontier and history.
Now, Costner didn’t name what those ‘five or ten’ Westerns actually are, keeping that information close to his chest. But, what he did explain was how Yellowstone subverted his expectations by focusing on its characters rather than simply spotlighting action and violence (though there is a fair amount of that).
“He’s a person that’s locked in the past, but he also has the mentality of a CEO,” said Costner of his Yellowstone character John Dutton. “He’s now dealing with outside forces: the EPA, Native American Rights, with casinos, urbanization. The idea that on his death his children will not inherit this land.”
He continued, “These are external pressures, and he’s not able to arbitrate those problems the way his predecessors did when they had no agents, no publicity people, no lawyers. You handled your problems on your property. That DNA is alive and well in Yellowstone.”
As Yellowstone’s continued, John Dutton has spent less time on horseback and more time behind a desk, especially now with him as the governor of Montana. However, new reports suggest that Costner really won’t return to his best TV series. Scheduling and creative conflicts have seen Costner reportedly refusing to return, meaning that the fate of John Dutton will likely be continued off-screen when Yellowstone season 5 part 2 returns next November bringing the show to an end before another slew of spin-offs.
Perhaps, for Costner, what he enjoyed so much about Yellowstone in the background has now faded away, and the series has changed over its five seasons. Instead, his focus has turned to his new movie series Horizon which is, you guessed it, a Western.
You can check out our Horizon release date guide to learn more, or see what we know about 1923 season 2 release date. Or, learn why we already know the Yellowstone ending after 1883, and see why the show should focus on Kayce in the absence of Costner.