How Kevin Costner’s Divorce Papers Hint He May No Longer Be a Part of ‘Yellowstone’ Season 5

In the midst of a heated divorce from his wife, Christine Baumgartner, Kevin Costner’s divorce papers are revealing a surprising twist about his future on Yellowstone.

Fans fully expected Costner to return for the rest of season 5, but the court documents tell a different narrative. The papers suggest that Costner, best known for his portrayal of John Dutton in the series, may not be returning after all. 

Kevin Costner (L) and Christine Baumgartner attend Paramount Network's "Yellowstone" Season 2 Premiere Party at Lombardi House on May 30, 2019 in Los Angeles, California
Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Paramount Network

Kevin Costner’s divorce papers seemingly reveal his future on ‘Yellowstone’ Season 5

Costner is currently involved in an intensifying divorce dispute with his estranged spouse, Christine Baumgartner. Fans expected the Yellowstone star to return and wrap up his character’s storyline, but the divorce documents tell a different story.

Court records reveal that Costner no longer receives financial compensation for Yellowstone. Beyond some “back-end contractual participation rights,” Costner is no longer on Taylor Sheridan’s payroll. 

Further, Costner candidly revealed that he isn’t under contract anymore. 

“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 stated.

Costner, now 68, made a reported $1.3 million per episode in 2022. However, he stated that the contemporary Western series has ceased to provide him with the guaranteed pay-per-appearance and per-episode earnings he formerly enjoyed. 

As the actor pointed out, Yellowstone has not compensated him this year. The news surprised many fans and renewed speculation about the future of the series.

Taylor Sheridan breaks his silence about John Dutton’s storyline

Yellowstone fans assumed that Costner would return for the second half of season 5 to wrap up John Dutton’s story. But that was before the divorce documents came to light.

Amid the speculation about the show’s future, Sheridan candidly discussed Costner’s departure in an interview with Hollywood Reporter. Sheridan hinted that Costner would be back in action and even teased a fatal end for the actor’s character. 

Sheridan explained that Costner’s decision to bow out of the show resulted in a shortened story arc. However, he affirmed that he had planned the destiny of the character and, consequently, the show’s culmination from the early phases of Yellowstone.

“I’m disappointed,” Sheridan stated. “It truncates the closure of his character. It doesn’t alter it, but it truncates it.”

The recent revelations, however, cast doubt on Costner’s future on the beloved series. If the actor doesn’t return to Yellowstone for season 5, Sheridan may be forced to kill off John Dutton off-camera.

‘Yellowstone’ Season 5 faces other challenges outside of Kevin Costner’s departure

Several other concerns loom over the final set of Yellowstone episodes. The ongoing writers’ strike in Hollywood, which has delayed several projects already, is one of the biggest issues.

In fact, Sheridan revealed that they have not yet prepared the final scripts, which could further delay production. Sheridan planned to start filming last spring and premiere the second half of season 5 by November. 

If Costner doesn’t return to wrap up John Dutton’s story, that could complicate things even further. Furthermore, Sheridan is working on a string of spinoffs and a new Yellowstone sequel starring Matthew McConaughey.

Representatives for Costner, Sheridan, and Paramount Network have not responded to inquiries so far.

Currently, Costner is focusing on his four-part Western epic, Horizon, where he serves as co-writer, director, and leading man. He has not commented on returning to Yellowstone

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