took Kevin Costner 35 years to get off the ground, and it's almost certain it wouldn't have happened if not for success. Costner has appeared in just about every genre throughout his career, from romantic dramas to expensive blockbusters; he even snuck in a horror movie with 2009's . He's mostly closely linked to Westerns, having starred in several of them throughout his career (with being the most famous) and fronting the acclaimed miniseries . Of course, his biggest project in recent years came with joining .
The Taylor Sheridan-created drama arrived in 2018 and soon became one of the biggest shows on television. The fact a star of Costner's caliber would agree to be in was one reason people tuned in, and again reinforced his Western credentials. This late-career resurgence has given Costner the chance to finally pull the trigger on , a series of four movies that takes place during the pre and post-American Civil War expansion of the American West. to focus on his ambitious saga, even though it was indirectly responsible for giving him the chance to finally make it.
In a dual interview with Costner and Francis Ford Coppola, Costner recounted the origins of . According to the star/director, it first came to him as a single movie in 1988 and would have been a "" two-hander Western. At the time, he couldn't get any studios interested in producing it - which sounds incredible following the success of . Costner tried to make it again following 2003's - which he also directed - but while he got some interest in the project, he still couldn't come to terms over budget.
The long delay is part of the reason evolved into a four-part project, with Costner and a screenwriter later expanding the story around the early 2010s. It's fair to say Costner's star wasn't burning nearly as bright in the '00s as it was in the previous decades, but it speaks to how unwilling studios were to gamble on Westerns that even couldn't mount during his heyday.
The big thesis behind the aforementioned interview is that both Coppola and Costner are putting their own money into sprawling, $100 million+ projects. Like Costner with , Coppola has long dreamed of making his sci-fi epic and eventually decided to fund it entirely himself, partly by selling some of his wine empire. Costner has some additional investors funding , but like Coppola is taking a big role of the dice with his own money.
According to the interview, Costner has mortgaged 10 acres of his waterfront property, deciding a plan to build his next house could wait. Filming on the first part of the series has already been completed, while work on commenced in early 2023. Time will tell how successful Costner's gamble will be, but after waiting decades to get the project made, the star is due some respect for literally putting his money where his mouth is.
Costner never disappeared as a star, but following a string of expensive projects in the late '90s, and early '00s, his career took a noticeable dip. In the last decade or so it became more common to see him playing a wise mentor or a father (often both) in films like or . is a success that nobody could have predicted, and with its subsequent spinoffs, the franchise appears to grow bigger each year.
John Dutton is a part that was tailormade for Costner, with the character feeling like a man from another era. The show reminded viewers what they loved about Costner as a performer, and gave him his biggest win as a leading man in years. It's safe to presume that fronting one of the most discussed television shows in the world also helped him secure the additional financing that was needed to get moving after 30 years.
It would help the quadrilogy if Costner was still on though the actor's future involvement with the Paramount series is still in question. Season 5 was always meant to be split in two, but with the first half having already come and gone, and Costner's commitment to keeping him away from filming his planned scenes for , there's now no guarantee he will return to shoot more scenes as Dutton. Hopefully, whatever disagreements are happening between the star and the showrunners can get resolved, as it would be great for Costner to end his time as Dutton on a high note.