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The reason Kevin Costner doesn't like filming Yellowstone

Times have been tough for the Dutton clan over the first two seasons of Paramount Network's breakout Western drama Yellowstone, but they've apparently been a bit tougher on series headliner Kevin Costner.

From the sound of it, Costner has been having some second thoughts about signing onto Yellowstone of late. The actor recently sat down with Indiewire to talk about the show's just wrapped second season, and to hear him tell it, he's not exactly enjoying some aspects of the modern cowboy drama's production. He's not battling saddle sores, butting heads with series writer/co-creator Taylor Sheridan, or growing tired of fighting the dust and elements on the set of the Big Sky Country-set show — the actor just isn't entirely on board with the ways of shooting a scripted television series.

Outside of the rigorous shooting schedule, Costner's biggest issue with Yellowstone is apparently that he feels too often left in the dark in regards to his character's past, and where Dutton is headed emotionally from episode to episode. "I'm not always privy to [aspects of the character's arc], no," Costner said. "Sometimes with [Dutton's] sons or wife or whatever, that's been really kept in a creative ball. That's a more vulnerable way to go through life as an actor."

Given the rash of melodramatic twists and turns that have seemingly accompanied every new episode of Yellowstone over the show's first two seasons, one can understand why Costner might want a little more info about his character. After all, the keeper of The Dutton Yellowstone Ranch — which borders the famous national park and a Native American reservation — has found himself in and out of the crosshairs on several occasions in the course of the show's first 19 episodes, with every single move Dutton makes seeming to lead him and his family further into a perilous spider's web of crooked politicians, shaky real estate magnates, and dodgy oil conglomerates.

With so many narrative curveballs, it would be difficult for any actor, even one of Costner's caliber, to find the right mix of tones and energies to navigate the madness with emotional honesty. For Costner in particular, Yellowstone has proven an even bigger challenge because he's spent the bulk of his decades-long career starring in feature films — which allow actors to study the entirety of their self-contained storylines, and plot out their characters' arcs from start to finish. Hard as it is to believe, Yellowstone is only the second television series Costner has ever starred in, with the first being the limited, three episode run of the History Channel mini-series Hatfields & McCoys.

In spite of Yellowstone's breakout success, Costner still hasn't gotten used to the vulnerability that comes with not knowing what lies ahead for his character. In regards to that vulnerability, Costner bluntly stated, "It hasn't been an easy adjustment for me. I don't like it too much."

Is Kevin Costner planning his exit from Yellowstone?

This may lead you to believe that Costner has designs on skedaddling from Yellowstone, but thankfully for fans, this is not the case. Given the series' impressive viewership numbers, Costner is enjoying as large an audience as he has at any point in his storied career; Yellowstone is one of the most-watched series on cable television, and its ratings hit an all-time high with the season 2 finale. Though Costner may never quite get adjusted to the rigorous shooting schedule and the sometimes cloudy narrative, he's still very much the star of a hit show, and is unquestionably a big part of why fans keep coming back from one week to the next.

As it happens, Sheridan and company are reportedly already mapping out the show's fourth run of episodes, and may have as many as seven full seasons of Yellowstone in the works — and there's little doubt that they want Costner in the saddle for as long has he can ride. For proof of that, look no further than the actor's astonishing $500,000 per episode salary, because nothing says "we love you" quite as much as making the star of your show one of the highest paid actors on television.

Just to put this in perspective, consider: Yellowstone ran for nine episodes in its first season, and was bumped up to 10 episodes for season 2. If the episode order stays at ten, and Yellowstone does indeed run for a full seven seasons, it would finish its run with 69 episodes — which means Costner stands to net a whopping $34.5 million for his work on the serial if he stays the course. So, yeah, whether or not he's totally digging his time on Yellowstone, Costner will probably just grit his teeth, count his millions, and endure.

Of course, given that the role of the duplicitous Dutton is an exceedingly complex one, it's unlikely that Costner will get bored with the gig anytime soon. For that matter, given his proclivity toward working behind the camera, it's a safe bet that the show's producers will also try to keep the star happy by letting him direct an episode or two at some point. 

However they do it, you can be certain Yellowstone's creative team will do everything in their power to ensure that Kevin Costner is roping, ranching, and scheming on the small screen for the foreseeable future. The series' highly anticipated third season is expected to premiere on Paramount Network in the summer of 2020.