Kevin Costner’s shocking exit from the biggest show on linear television, Paramount Network’s Yellowstone, became a focal point in the Oscar winner’s testimony at a Santa Barbara court hearing in his divorce case Friday morning.
In Costner’s first public remarks about his abrupt departure and the series coming to an end with Season 5, the actor indicated on the stand today that he will likely sue over the way things went down.
During his testimony today, Costner openly said he will “probably go to court” over his Yellowstone exit, according to multiple reports and sources. If Costner was to engage in a suit over his Yellowstone departure, the defendants likely would be producers 101 Studios and Paramount Network parent company Paramount Global.
Responding to a further question by his estranged wife Christine Baumgartner’s attorney John Rydell as to whether he was offered to do Season 6, Costner also said it was “complicated,” according a Fox News report on the hearing, with the actor’s comments corroborated to Deadline by sources close to the matter.
“We did negotiate,” Costner said, noting that he was offered $24 million to do Seasons 5, 6 and 7. “There were issues about creative,” he said about talks with franchise creator Taylor Sheridan and producers. “I tried to break the logjam. They walked away.”
Costner actually was paid for the fifth season of Yellowstone, which only has filmed the first half of that cycle’s episodes so far. Based on his compensation, it seems the $24 million the actor was referring to today in court was for the sixth and seventh seasons only.
As Deadline reported exclusively in February, the crux of the issues involved disagreements between the producers and Costner over shooting schedules. Sources told Deadline at the time that the actor, who originally had limited himself to 65 days of shooting on Yellowstone, only wanted to shoot 50 days for the first part of Season 5.
For the second batch of episodes, Season 5B, which is yet to be shot and now will mark the mothership’s final chapter, Costner only wanted to spend a week shooting.
Costner, who won Best Actor in a Drama Series at the Golden Globes in January for Yellowstone, is directing and starring in the multi-part Western epic Horizon, which he co-wrote with Jon Baird. The film, which is set up at Warner Bros and New Line, is currently in postproduction.
“Somewhere along the line, they wanted to change things,” Costner said in the courtroom today. “They wanted to do 5A and 5B; [it] affected Horizon. I was going to do my movie Horizon and leave that show, do my movie, then do B. A show I was only doing once a year I was now doing twice.”
Paramount announced in May that Yellowstone will end with Season 5B and will be followed by an untitled sequel from series’ creator Sheridan and production companies 101 Studios and MTV Entertainment Studios.
It is unclear whether the actor, who is also an executive producer on Yellowstone, is serious about filing a wrongful-termination lawsuit or if this is part of legal maneuverings during his increasingly acrimonious divorce proceedings.
Yellowstone producers had no comment on Costner’s courtroom remarks. However, sources noted that the star essentially made himself “unavailable” to the show, which would complicate his legal position with regard to his contractual obligations.