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‘Yellowstone’ Is Still Weighing Options About Fate of Kevin Costner’s Character John Dutton (Exclusive)

Yellowstone fans thought Kevin Costner wouldn’t be back for the show’s final episodes, but now there are rumors he might return — and it’s still not clear how the series will end.

“They’ve internally discussed going a couple different ways with the story line if Kevin doesn’t return,” an insider exclusively reveals in the new issue of Us Weekly, noting that a narrative shift could address the absence of Costner’s character, John Dutton. “[Cocreator Taylor Sheridan] could incorporate a big event to explain the disappearance, or there’s a calculative move to protect his family from an enemy.”

If Costner, 69, doesn’t return to the series, the source says the final episodes will likely “focus more on the children and ranch hands and their relationships, conflicts and alliances.”

The first half of Yellowstone’s fifth season aired on Paramount Network from November 2022 to January 2023. The second half of the season was set to premiere later in 2023, but filming was delayed amid reports of tension between Costner and Sheridan, 53, over the production schedule. In May 2023, Paramount confirmed that the show’s fifth season would be its last.

Yellowstone Is Still Weighing Options About Fate of Kevin Costners Character John Dutton
Kevin Costner as John Dutton Emerson Miller for Paramount Network

Fans still hoped that Costner would return for the drama’s last batch of episodes, but the Oscar winner has hinted he won’t be back. In September 2023 court documents related to his divorce from ex-wife Christine Baumgartner, Costner claimed he “concluded his work” on Yellowstone in 2022.

The first half of season five ended on a cliffhanger, with Jamie (Wes Bentley) calling for his dad’s impeachment. John, meanwhile, seemed ready to team up with Beth (Kelly Reilly) to have Jamie murdered. That leaves a lot of plot left for John, but Costner’s legal team said he “is not involved in any future episodes” of the show.

Last month, however, Puck reported that Costner has been telling people he will be back, even if just for a cameo. The outlet also noted that Sheridan didn’t write John into the final episodes.

'Yellowstone' Off-Camera Drama Through the Years cowboy hats

Related: Yellowstone's Offscreen Drama Through the Years: On-Set Tension and More

“Even if Costner significantly lowers his financial and time commitment demands, Sheridan may not want to bother reopening his finished scripts to accommodate a send-off for John Dutton,” Puck reported on March 24. “But the Yellowstone fans would certainly love it, which Costner knows and hopes to leverage, as he always does.”

Last year, Sheridan claimed that there was no bad blood between him and Costner. “My opinion of Kevin as an actor hasn’t altered,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in June 2023. “His creation of John Dutton is symbolic and powerful … and I’ve never had an issue with Kevin that he and I couldn’t work out on the phone.”

For more on Costner’s status with Yellowstone, watch the video above and pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now.

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