Kevin Costner sticks to subject as Gayle King questions 'Yellowstone' exit: 'This isn't therapy'

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Kevin Costner is finally, albeit reluctantly, shedding light on his “Yellowstone” exit.

Costner, who portrayed Montana rancher John Dutton III in the first four and a half seasons of the Emmy-nominated drama, officially announced last week on Instagram that he would not be returning for Season 5, Part 2 of the series — more than a year after reports of his departure first dropped.

Now, as the Golden Globe-winning actor-director promotes “Horizon” — his newly released western epic over 30 years in the making — he’s being pressed about the details of his widely mourned “Yellowstone” exit. That includes whether clashes with the series’ creator and director Taylor Sheridan caused it.

“People say this about the two of you: both big egos, both very powerful, both at the top of their game, and that right now, maybe the two of you are playing a game of ‘Whose is bigger?’” “CBS Mornings” host Gayle King said to Costner on Thursday. “Do you see it that way?”

Costner countered, saying that he “loved the show before anybody” and that, in the beginning, “It was Taylor and myself.”

But King pressed further, asking if the collaborators were on good terms. “Why can’t the two of you be able to work it out?” she said.

“Well, this isn’t therapy, Gayle. We’re not going to discuss this on the show,” Costner fired back. “I’ve conducted my life in a pretty straightforward way. I’ve never missed any obligations in my entire career.”

As for the true reason for his departure, Costner suggested that the writing on the show had ceased to move him. It was a stance he had taken in his recent People cover story: “The scripts weren’t there.”

Earlier in the “CBS Mornings” interview, Costner also disputed claims made last year by Sheridan that “Horizon” became the actor’s “priority” and that he wanted to “shift focus.”

“I sure hope [the movie is] worth it — and that it’s a good one,” Sheridan told the Hollywood Reporter.

“‘Horizon’ didn’t cause problems for me,” Costner told King. “I wanted to work more than once a year, and it was important that I made room for ‘Yellowstone’ and made room for ‘Horizon,’ but we just — people ran through deadlines, they were busy, they had a lot to do. But ‘Horizon’ was secondary to ‘Yellowstone.’

“But it still had to line up,” he continued. “I had 400 people waiting for me, so I did things in a very limited amount of time.”

Costner added that whereas his Academy Award-winning directorial debut, “Dances With Wolves,” took 106 days, “Horizon” was shot in just 52.

“Horizon: An American Saga — Chapter 1,” the first installment in a proposed four-part film series, was released in theaters Friday. Costner has been pushing the project since 1988.

“I thought it was good, but no one would make it,” he said on “CBS Mornings.” “I thought, well then, I’ll write four more, see how they like those.”

Costner said no one liked those either, “but I did, and I couldn’t forget [‘Horizon’]. I fell in love with it.”

During a Thursday panel discussion for Josh Horowitz’s “Happy Sad Confused podcast, Costner said, “I felt like I had a secret for you in this movie,” adding that his faith in the project has grown with the cast’s. “I turned the script over to these actors, and one by one, as they read it, they said they wanted to be a part of it.

“I knew we had something,” he said.

“Horizon” brought in just $800,000 from more than 3,000 locations Thursday, according to studio estimates — a soft start on its projected opening weekend box office take of $10 million to $12 million in the United States and Canada. Filmmakers and studios remain hopeful that Costner’s fan base will deliver over the weekend.

“Horizon: An American Saga — Chapter 2” arrives in theaters Aug. 16.

Meanwhile, the final six episodes of “Yellowstone” are well into production and slated to air Nov. 10. The first half of “Yellowstone” Season 5 aired between November 2022 and January 2023.

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