Why Is Kevin Costner Leaving “Yellowstone”? Inside His Departure Ahead of Season 5 Part 2

In a message to fans, Kevin Costner confirmed he won’t be returning to 'Yellowstone' season 5, adding that he’ll “see [us] at the movies”

<p>Cam McLeod/Paramount</p> Kevin Costner in Yellowstone, Season 3.

Cam McLeod/Paramount

Kevin Costner in Yellowstone, Season 3.

On June 20, Oscar winner Kevin Costner confirmed he won’t be returning to Paramount's neo-Western Yellowstone for the second half of season 5.

Costner, 69, who played John Dutton III from the show's inception, has been the subject of much speculation regarding his return to Yellowstone amid production delays. Now, the actor has finally confirmed his fate with the series.

In an Instagram post, Costner referred to Yellowstone as the “beloved series” he holds dear but, after over a year of working on Horizon: An American Saga, he “realized” that he is “not going to be able to continue season 5, or into the future.”

Related: Kevin Costner Says He Won't Be Returning to Yellowstone in New Video: 'I Loved It'

Costner’s post comes over a year after rumors of his exit began to swirl, and days after the actor spoke to PEOPLE in his cover story about feeling disappointed in the lack of support from production regarding media narratives. Hours before his confirmation, Paramount announced that the second half of season 5 will drop in November 2024, albeit without its franchise star.

Here’s everything to know about Costner’s departure from the Western drama ahead of the series conclusion.

Why is Kevin Costner leaving Yellowstone?

<p>Paramount</p> Kevin Costner Yellowstone Season 5

Paramount

Kevin Costner Yellowstone Season 5

While Costner’s confirmed departure may be disheartening to fans, it comes after much speculation and reports from Costner himself regarding scheduling conflicts and production issues.

In May, Costner told Deadline that he left filming for Horizon to be on set for Yellowstone — only to arrive and find that “there was no script.” The actor went on to address how his attempt to accommodate amid his tight schedule was then spun in the media.

“What you read in the end was that I said, ‘Well, look, I’m doing my movie. If you want me to work a week because you want to kill me or whatever else, I can give you a week,’” Costner told the outlet. “I really didn’t have that week to give them, but I said, I’ll do that. And then they [spun that] into, I only wanted to work a week.”

Related: Inside Yellowstone’s Behind-the-Scenes Drama: From Kevin Costner’s Exit to Legal Battles

Costner added that his commitment to Yellowstone was never the issue, but rather a swirl of factors outside his control that made things challenging.

“I made Yellowstone the first priority, and to insinuate anything else would be wrong,” he told the outlet. “I did not initiate any of those things. They did. They were doing a tap dance and this poor guy was also having to write so much.”

Costner has also spoken about the lack of support he received from others involved with the series.

"I was disappointed that nobody on their side ... ever stepped up to defend what it was I actually did for them,” Costner told PEOPLE earlier in June 2024. “There came a moment where I thought, 'Wow, when is somebody going to say something about what I have done versus what I haven't done?' "

Related: Kevin Costner Speaks Out on Yellowstone Drama: 'I Have Taken a Beating from Those F---ing Guys'

What has Kevin Costner said about his departure?

<p>Paramount</p> Kevin Costner Yellowstone Season 5

Paramount

Kevin Costner Yellowstone Season 5

Despite his frustrations, Costner has been vocal about his appreciation for Yellowstone. In his Instagram post, the actor concluded his update by reiterating what the show meant to him, underscoring his deep love for the series and the community it has cultivated.

"It was something that really changed me. I loved it and I know you loved it. And I just wanted to let you know that I won't be returning,” Costner said, “I love the relationship that we've been able to develop, and I'll see you at the movies."

The Hidden Figures actor also spoke about his appreciation for the series during his PEOPLE interview.

"I liked the people on the show. I liked what it was about. I love that world," he said.

What has the Yellowstone cast said about Kevin Costner’s departure?

<p>Paramount</p> Kevin Costner Yellowstone Season 5

Paramount

Kevin Costner Yellowstone Season 5

In April, Yellowstone star Luke Grimes said he understood Costner's reasons for leaving during an interview with The Independent.

Grimes, who plays Costner’s on-screen son, Kayce Dutton, told the outlet that while “whatever happened there” is “unfortunate” in regard to how it may change the series trajectory, he is supportive of Costner’s pursuit of “passion projects,” like Horizon — which Costner invested $38 million of his own funds as well as being heavily involved directing, co-writing, starring and producing.

“At a certain point, you gotta do what you gotta do, man; you gotta do what you love,” Grimes added.

However, Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan, expressed a different stance on the matter in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last June, noting he was “disappointed” in Costner’s exit.

“It truncates the closure of his character. It doesn’t alter it, but it truncates it,” Sheridan said.

Related: 'Yellowstone' Creator Is 'Disappointed' by Kevin Costner's Exit but Won't Resort to 'F--- You' Death for John

Will Kevin Costner appear in any of the final episodes of Yellowstone?

Paramount Network/Courtesy Everett Collection YELLOWSTONE, Kevin Costner, ‘One Hundred Years Is Nothing', (Season 5, ep. 501, aired Nov. 13, 2022)
Paramount Network/Courtesy Everett Collection YELLOWSTONE, Kevin Costner, ‘One Hundred Years Is Nothing', (Season 5, ep. 501, aired Nov. 13, 2022)

While Costner made no mention of returning to Yellowstone in his Instagram post confirming his exit, he mentioned to PEOPLE that he would be interested in rejoining the franchise if he approved of his character’s arc.

Related: Kevin Costner Says He Would 'Love' to Do More Than 5 Seasons of Yellowstone After Exit: 'Maybe This Will Circle Back'

"I've always felt that … It might be an interesting moment to come back and finish the mythology of this modern-day family," he said. "And if that happens, I would step into it if I agreed with how it was being done."

However, the odds seem slim. "In the very end, I couldn't do any more for [the show] than I had already done," Costner added.

Meanwhile, production for the second half of season 5 began in Montana in May. It's unclear how Costner's departure will be addressed in the episodes, or if his character will make any sort of appearance.

Related: Kevin Costner 'Would Love' to Return to Yellowstone — But Is Waiting on the 'Right Circumstances'

When does Yellowstone season 5 part 2 come out?

Season 5 part 2 will premiere on Sunday, Nov. 10, at 8 p.m. ET on Paramount Network.

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