Yellowstone, the most popular television show, was co-created by Taylor Sheridan. The neo-western, now in its fifth season, draws over 15 million people each week who can’t get enough of fifth-generation rancher John Dutton, played by Kevin Costner, and his family’s quest to protect their land.
Taylor Sheridan or Costner could not have expected Yellowstone’s huge success. But, even before he began writing the series, Taylor Sheridan knew he was “hungry” to work with Costner.
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Taylor Sheridan says the story of the Dutton Family chose him
When the first season of Yellowstone was due to launch in the summer of 2018, Taylor Sheridan and Costner sat down with Collider for an interview about the then-unknown series.
The Texas native noted that he didn’t set out to create a Western about the demise of the American West and a traditional, rural way of life in the face of contemporary technology. Instead, he claims that the tale selected him.
“To me, looking at the modern American West is a really great way to look at ourselves,” the writer/director noted.
The ‘Yellowstone’ creator was ‘hungry’ to work with Kevin Costner
Taylor Sheridan also discussed how he convinced two-time Oscar winner Costner to participate in the series. He stated that he had appreciated Costner’s work his entire life and that the opportunity to meet someone he admired was an honor.
“I’d been a fan of Kevin’s work my whole life,” Taylor Sheridan said. “Just a chance to sit down with someone you’ve admired was a great honor. I was really hungry to find something to do with him and I had the idea for this show. I wrote the pilot and I sent it to him.”
Costner eventually fell in love with the screenplay, and Taylor Sheridan convinced him to sign on before selling the series to Paramount. And it turned out that this was a factor in closing the purchase.
Taylor Sheridan’s warned Paramount that ‘Yellowstone’ would be expensive.
Taylor Sheridan had rescued Yellowstone from development hell at HBO, where it had lingered for years when he went to present it to Paramount. He made it plain to executives that he wanted the series to be created exactly as he imagined it.
“You’re not ready for this,” Taylor Sheridan told them, per The Atlantic. “It’s going to cost $90–$100 million. You’re going to be writing a check for horses that’s $50–$75,000 a week.”
Taylor Sheridan also informed the network that they would have no involvement in the project other than paying the costs. He also stated that he would write and direct every episode, that there would be no writers’ room, no one would see an outline, and no comments would be taken.
They agreed to Taylor Sheridan’s stipulations, and the rest is history. Because of the popularity of Yellowstone, he inked a deal with Paramount that will pay him $200 million in the summer of 2021. And he presently has nine shows worth more than a billion dollars that are either on the air, streaming or in the planning phases. Meanwhile, Costner recently received a Golden Globe nomination for his role as John Dutton.
Yellowstone Season 5 will return to the Paramount Network for the second half this summer. Seasons 1–4 are now available on Peacock.