Kevin Costner Says He Left ‘Yellowstone’ amid Creative ‘Issues’ and Arduous Negotiations

Kevin Costner sheds light on his decision to leave Yellowstone.

The 68-year-old actor testified Friday during a child support hearing in Santa Barbara, California, amid his ongoing divorce from estranged wife Christina Baumgartner. While testifying, he said that behind his decision to leave the Paramount Network series were “long, difficult negotiations” about splitting Season 5 into two parts.

Costner said he had to focus on his own Western epic, a four-part film series Horizon: An American Saga which failed to record Yellowstone twice a year. Costner said he “changed” his schedule to shoot the first part of season five, adding, “It’s a big deal in this world.”

Kevin Costner on ‘Yellowstone’.

Paramount Network

‘Yellowstone’ creator ‘disappointed’ by Kevin Costner’s departure, but won’t resort to ‘Y—ti’ death for John

He noted that “there were no scripts written” for the second part of Season 5 and that they “still hadn’t finished” the first part of the season at the time. They decided to do a “pay or play” which didn’t work out and he was supposed to get $12 million for every part of season 5.

Costner testified that he wanted to return for the sixth season of the western series, but “I couldn’t help them anymore. We tried to negotiate, they offered me less money than in previous seasons, there were problems with creative…”

Before finally leaving, the actor said he made a last-ditch effort to come back and told his reps “let them pay me whatever amount, we’ve come up with a number and they [Yellowstone] walked away.” He said over the phone that he believed the figure to be $12 million.

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Photo by Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock (10416351af) Luke Grimes as Kayce Dutton and Kevin Costner as John Dutton TV series 'Yellowstone' Season 2 - 2019 A ranching family in Montana confronts others encroaching on their land.

Luke Grimes as Kayce Dutton and Kevin Costner as John Dutton in ‘Yellowstone’.

Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

Kevin Costner’s estranged wife Christine says she never pressured him to leave ‘Yellowstone’ before the split

“I’m told it’s a bit disappointing [it’s] the number 1 show on TV, I’m not participating,” he added.

When asked whether he will receive payment from the second part Yellowstone season 5, he replied, “I’m probably going to go to court for that.”

Paramount did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

In July, Yellowstone visionary Taylor Sheridan admitted he wasn’t entirely happy with Costner’s decision to exit the hit series. “I’m disappointed,” Sheridan, 53, said The Hollywood Reporter about Costner’s departure. “It shortens the closedness of his character. It doesn’t change it, but it shortens it.”

In May, Paramount Network confirmed Yellowstone will end after the second half of Season 5 (which was supposed to premiere in November, but is dependent on the still-unresolved Writers Guild strike). There have been talks about bringing Costner back to film to bring John’s story to a close, he says The Hollywood Reporter.

Despite speculation of tension behind the scenes, Sheridan continued to praise Costner’s work on the series. “His creation of John Dutton is iconic and powerful … and I’ve never had a problem with Kevin that he and I couldn’t solve on the phone,” Oscar nominee Hell or high water the writer explained.

Taylor Sheridan and Kevin Costner at the Paramount Pictures premiere "Yellowstone" at Paramount Studios on June 11, 2018

Taylor Sheridan and Kevin Costner at the premiere of ‘Yellowstone’ at Paramount Studios on June 11, 2018.

Presley Ann/Getty

Is Kevin Costner leaving ‘Yellowstone’? Everything we know so far

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He also noted that THR that Costner “took a lot of flak and I don’t know that anybody deserves that,” referring to the reported friction. “His film seems to be a big priority for him and he wants to change his focus. I hope so [the movie is] it’s worth it — and it’s good.”

In February, Deadline reported that Paramount Network was in talks with McConaughey to lead a Yellowstone spinoff as Costner tried to downsize his Yellowstone work schedule Horizon. Paramount Network later confirmed Yellowstone finish and that he has ordered a spinoff series for the Paramount+ streaming platform. (Paramount+ is home to its various prequel series, including, in 1883 and in 1923and will probably stream the upcoming 6666 spinoff currently in development.)

Completion Yellowstone it was released days after Costner’s estranged wife Baumgartner filed for divorce after 18 years of marriage. In court documents filed in California Superior Court, Santa Barbara County on Friday, Christine, 49, said she “didn’t pressure” Costner to leave Yellowstone before the schism.

“I avoided talking publicly about the reasons for our divorce. I did it to protect our family’s privacy. I didn’t pressure Kevin to leave Yellowstone show,” Christine wrote in the document.

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YellowstoneThe first four seasons and the first half of season 5 are now streaming on Peacock.

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