It’s happening! We finally have confirmation that the Matthew McConaughey Yellowstone extension is a go. So, what does the news mean for Kevin Costner and the state of Yellowstone as we know it? Read on for more details — plus see what McConaughey recently had to say about Yellowstone and Kevin Costner’s iconic role.
Yellowstone is Paramount’s popular Western drama that follows the Dutton family as they fight to protect the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch in Montana. The series premiered in 2018 and spotlights John Dutton III, the six-generation patriarch played by Kevin Costner, who’s been a mainstay on the show since its debut. The main cast consists of Costner, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Luke Grimes, Cole Hauser, Gil Birmingham, Kelsey Asbille and more. Yellowstone already has three spin-offs: 1883 and 1923 (on Paramount Plus) and 6666 (which is still in development).
Like the drama that consumes the show, Yellowstone has been dealing with its own behind-the-scenes issues that allegedly concern Costner and his filming schedule. Deadline reported in February 2023 that Paramount Network chose to end Yellowstone to create a new show without Costner due to filming and scheduling issues. Sources told the magazine that Costner, who originally limited himself to 65 days of filming on Yellowstone for previous seasons, only wanted to film for 50 days for the first part of season 5, which aired from November 2022 to January 2023.
Now that a McConaughey spin-off is officially happening, here’s everything we know about Matthew McConaughey joining the Yellowstone franchise and Kevin Costner’s status amid rumors of his exit.
Is Matthew McConaughey joining Yellowstone?
The answer is yes! Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of Paramount Media Networks, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter on March 28, 2023, that the McConaughey Yellowstone spin-off is happening. McCarthy told the publication that McConaughey is lined up to star in a Yellowstone extension, which will “move forward regardless of whether Costner returns to the original.”
Our sister publication, Variety, reported on May 5, 2023, that Yellowstone will be ending after Season 5 and there will not be a sixth season of the successful Paramount series. Instead, it will be replaced with a sequel series. “The untitled series will debut on Paramount Network and Paramount+ in December,” according to Variety. “
“The Dutton story continues, picking up where Yellowstone leaves off in another epic tale. We are thrilled to bring this new journey to audiences around the world,” said David Glasser, CEO of 101 Studios, of the new prequel series.
On June 13, 2023, McConaughey talked about Yellowstone on the Lex Fridman Podcast. He spoke about the appeal of the show and Costner’s lead role in the Western drama. “I admire the simplicity of it. One way you could explain Yellowstone and Costner’s role is what will men do to protect land and family in a world that is trying to encroach?” McConaughey told the host. “In a world where there’s a cowboy ethos that deems trespassing more clear earlier than other hats. I admire that simplicity of right and wrong.”
He continued: “It’s a little bit of, ‘If the law ain’t handling this, I am.’ And then it is, ‘The law’s not going to handle it, therefore I am.’ Then it’s, ‘I’m handling this. The law? Talk to them when you get to them. I’m handling this.’”
Initial reports about McConaughey’s involvement in a Yellowstone extension were first reported by Deadline in February 2023. At the time, McConaughey was in talks to star in the franchise expansion. “Matthew McConaughey is a phenomenal talent with whom we’d love to partner,” a Paramount Network spokesperson told Deadline. It’s also reported that some of the Yellowstone cast will move over to the McConaughey spin-off, although it’s still unclear who that will be.
A few members of Yellowstone have already reacted to the McConaughey news, including Josh Lucas, who plays the younger version of John Dutton. He told Entertainment Tonight at the PaleyFest in April 2023 that “I’m sure he [Taylor Sheridan] has great ideas for how these characters merge together,” Lucas said of Sheridan’s plans. “Part of it is the mystery of the mind of that creator…bring it on.” Lucas also added that he’s amazed by how much of Sheridan’s own life is reflected in the show. “I’m always so fascinated to see what Taylor [Sheridan] is doing as he tells the story,” he explained. “The thing that moves me or surprises me most is that every time I think something is too crazy or too fantastical, it turns out it’s based on a true story from Taylor’s life or from something that is very close to the cowboys that all of this story is about.”
Dawn Olivieri, who plays Yellowstone newcomer Sarah and Claire Dutton in the Yellowstone prequel 1883, was also at PaleyFest alongside Lucas. She spoke with The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet about the news. “The names will change, hotness factors will shift, Matthew McConaugheys will appear, it’ll just be whatever it needs to be,” she told our sister site.
Is Kevin Costner leaving Yellowstone for good?
Kevin Costner has said that he has severed ties with “Yellowstone” and is “no longer under contract” for the Paramount Network drama, raising fresh questions about the conclusion of the hugely popular series.
In court documents related to his increasingly acrimonious divorce from his second wife, Christine Baumgartner, the actor explicitly states that he is not expecting to receive any monetary compensation from the series, apart from “back-end contractual participation rights.”
“I will earn substantially less in 2023 than I did in 2022. This is because I am no longer under contract for ‘Yellowstone,’ the principal source of my income last year,” Costner said in a June 30 declaration, which was obtained by Insider.
It was previously believed that Costner would appear in the final run of episodes to wrap up things for his character, John Dutton, who audiences last saw in the January 1 midseason finale facing impeachment from his role as Montana governor.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter last month, series cocreator Taylor Sheridan seemed to be under the impression that Costner would be reprising his role as the aging rancher, and further hinted that the ending of “Yellowstone” will see Costner’s character killed off.
Sheridan said that while the “Field of Dreams” star’s decision to leave the show “truncates the closure of his character,” he has had the character’s fate, and the ending of the show, planned out since the early days of “Yellowstone.”
However, there’s now a question of whether that death will have to occur off-screen if Costner does not return to set to film scenes, given that he no longer has a legal obligation to do so.