While The Hollywood Reporter has told “Yellowstone” fans to expect a lot less of Kevin Costner’s John Dutton in the final episodes of the wildly popular series, Puck’s Matthew Belloni is now claiming that the actor may not appear in season 5b at all. “The question is whether Costner is in those final episodes of this season of ‘Yellowstone,’” Hollywood insider Belloni said on a recent episode of “The Town” podcast, “and my understanding is that, as of now, he is not gonna be in those episodes.”
This news arrives in the wake of an ongoing disagreement between star Costner and series creator Taylor Sheridan, which according to Deadline’s reporting involves issues related to pay negotiation, creative differences, and the decision to split the show’s fifth season into two parts. “Somewhere along the line, they wanted to change things,” Costner said during a court proceeding related to his divorce from wife Christine Baumgartner. “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.” The actor also said that he was offered $24 million for potential seasons 5-7, concluding simply, “There were issues about creative. I tried to break the logjam. They walked away.”
Is John Dutton done for?
The decision to split single seasons of shows into two parts has grown increasingly popular in recent years, and while it may help writers, VFX artists, and other creatives get the chance to flesh out a story more fully than a traditional single-season approach would, it can also leave actors and others hanging. Costner mentioned during the September proceedings that he will “probably go to court” over his exit from “Yellowstone,” so it’s not entirely surprising if Belloni is right and he decided to fully close the book on the series ahead of its ending.
Assuming John Dutton is absent from the show’s final episodes, that poses a major creative challenge for the show’s endgame. Given that so much of the series was about the power the family patriarch wields, it could lose some steam without the central on-screen force holding it together. “Succession” was able to incorporate a shocking major character death early on in its final season, but given that “Yellowstone” is often compared to “Succession” already, I imagine the show may want to differentiate itself from the HBO drama when it comes to dealing with the loss of a lead actor.
We’ll find out what happens to John Dutton in the final season of “Yellowstone” when the series returns in 2024.