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Kevin Costner Opens Up About Yellowstone's Surprising Success

In an interview published around the airing of its third season, series lead Kevin Costner revealed that he wasn't always planning on sticking around modern Western family drama "Yellowstone" for the long haul. Rather, the show was initially supposed to be limited to 10 episodes, which, for TV newcomer Costner, seemingly helped sell him on the role. After "Yellowstone" pushed past what was going to be its end, however, Costner decided to continue along with it.

"Yellowstone" is, of course, a hugely popular series. Most recently, its Season 4 finale was watched by an audience 79% larger than that of the final episode of Season 3. Also at the season's end, viewership data determined that "Yellowstone" was the most popular TV show in all of 2021 among viewers between the ages of 18-45 and 25-54. Arguably making this and other such accomplishments even more impressive is the fact that new episodes premiere exclusively on cable, with no availability through streaming services as has become the norm in recent years.

In light of these successes, Costner recently shared some new insight into what he thinks of the ways in which "Yellowstone" continues to grow, years after its premiere.

Costner couldn't predict that Yellowstone would ascend to such heights

In early February, Deadline spoke to the principal "Yellowstone" cast as part of its ongoing Virtual Screening Series, which pairs online movie and TV screenings with panel discussions on Zoom. Kevin Costner was among those interviewed in conjunction with a screening of the beginning of "Yellowstone" Season 4. Among other topics, Costner discussed the massive success of "Yellowstone," revealing that, in spite of believing in the series, he never expected it to attain such widespread popularity.

"I don't think you can ever guarantee popular or critical success," Costner said. "The only thing you can guarantee is your belief in the quality of the script you're doing. I could never have predicted the success of 'Field of Dreams' or 'Bull Durham'. Those were films made for under $10 million. But I knew they were good, I knew there was gold dust on the scripts." The script for the "Yellowstone" pilot, meanwhile, "had a little of that gold dust."

"I couldn't have predicted its popularity, or looked five years ahead, but I'm never surprised at what quality can turn into," he continued. "Being popular and really good doesn't have to be mutually exclusive. And so, I'm pleasantly surprised."

The fact that Costner describes "Yellowstone" as both "really good" and unexpectedly popular helps shed some new light onto his decision to stay on past his initial commitment, and suggests that even those who believed in "Yellowstone" never expected its continued, substantial successes.