Yellowstone’s John Dutton in politics? Kevin Costner says: ‘I know how hard it’s going to be on him. His heart is at the ranch’
- Kevin Costner says his character won’t have an easy ride as governor of Montana ‘trying to find middle ground with people’ in season 6 of the US’ No 1 TV show
- Personally he has no intention to run for political office, he says, and shrugs off criticism he’s received for supporting Democratic and Republican candidates
Kevin Costner is not saddling up for a new season of Yellowstone – he is buttoning up.
Costner’s John Dutton begins Yellowstone season five on November 13 showing the tough-as-nails rancher in his finest duds being sworn in as governor of the US state of Montana. So Dutton will have to step away from his beloved Yellowstone Ranch to actually govern.
“I know how hard it’s going to be on him,” Costner says. “His heart is at the ranch, not trying to find middle ground with people. That’s going to be problematic. He has a lane that he operates in that is not as expansive as some would want it to be. And he won’t change.”
That sentiment will bring a big sigh of relief for the Yellowstone faithful.
The sixth-generation patriarch of Yellowstone Dutton ranch who Costner portrays remains the unyielding cornerstone for US television’s biggest show, which averaged 10.7 million viewers in three-day viewing, up 73 per cent from season three.
That success has prompted an entire Dutton family Western franchise from creator and executive producer Taylor Sheridan, including 1883 and 1923, due in December 2022.
Rather than change, Dutton is only going to dig in his heels even more. It is an attitude that has kept his expansive ranch intact despite powerful competing interests, and kept him alive after gritting out an assassination attempt in the season three finale that still reverberates.
Season four ended with the family circling the wagons – daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly) even blackmailed her brother, Jamie (Wes Bentley), to ensure his cooperation – to fight off the growing threat of fierce developer Caroline Warner (Jacki Weaver), who wants the Dutton ranch for a Montana airport proposal.
Season five shows Dutton dealing with more personal tragedy, but also victorious in his governor’s race. The new office will help him wage personal battles, but comes with a cost the actor understands.
“It’s like being in school versus being in recess. Where would you rather be?” Costner asks. “He thinks most clearly on his horse.”
Unlike his screen counterpart, Costner will not be pulled into the political arena.
“No, I don’t think there’s any reason for me to run,” he says quickly, “though I wish the people that did run had a bigger vision and more of a morality about how they see the country evolving. I’m disappointed.”
Costner has no regrets about his support.
“Just because you lose doesn’t mean you’re done; it doesn’t mean you’re even wrong,” he says. “I was clear that [Cheney] probably wasn’t going to win her election. But I wanted to let her know, as a citizen, how much I appreciated her brave, clear-headed stance.”
Costner’s stance brought criticism, even from some of his Yellowstone fans.
“I didn’t really care how the cookie crumbles, that people that liked me now don’t like me,” he says. “That’s OK.”
The Hollywood maverick, whose career has been propelled by ambitious achievements like 1990’s best picture Oscar winner Dances With Wolves, and who overcame disasters like the US$175 million 1995 epic Waterworld, keeps a big-picture outlook towards the success of Yellowstone.
“I’m not naive; I’m aware that it’s a No. 1 show,” he says. “You’re always happy when something’s received well. I’ve had things that I thought were pretty good that weren’t exactly hits. But you cannot be driven by the ratings; you just appreciate that there’s an audience.”
These are just two of the projects in the rapidly expanding Sheridan universe, including Sylvester Stallone as a non-Dutton modern-day mobster in Tulsa King, which premieres on November 13 in the US.
Costner shrugs off concerns about the universe expanding too fast. “It all depends on the writing,” he says. “What you do needs to stand up. And that’s what I’m watching constantly.”
He is willing to go along for the Yellowstone ride as long as it feels right, declining to confirm his involvement in a sixth season.
“I was only going to do one season, but I’ve done this many,” he says. “I give everything I can to what I’m doing. But the moment I feel that it’s not right, I’m just going to step away.”
Riding high in Hollywood with the success, Costner has his hands full with other projects, He is producing, directing, starring in and has co-written another Western, a passion project that he has co-financed with his wife of 18 years, Christine Baumgartner.
Horizon is a sprawling look at the settlement of the American West, with 170 speaking parts, that he has been thinking about for the last 15 years. “And it was time for me to do it.”
He has plans to make it a four-part movie series, with the first hitting cinemas next year. As he is reminded by Dutton’s new office, it sure beats a desk job.
“I would not have done well in the office,” Costner says. “I’m really grateful to be able to find what I love to do. It’s fun to be outside. This is recess.”