Yellowstone: Kevin Costner Returns to TV In a Sweeping 'Wild West Meets Big Business' Series
PARAMOUNT NETWORK, Premieres June 20, 9/8c
By Lori Acken
Kevin Costner is dancing with TV audiences once again.
In his first television project since his Emmy-winning role in History’s record-breaking Hatfields & McCoys, the 63-year-old actor — who ascended from movie-star heartthrob to bona fide power player when he helmed and starred in 1990’s Oscar-winning Dances With Wolves — returns to his favored frontier sensibility for Paramount Network’s Yellowstone.
In the sweeping drama series, which premieres Wednesday, Costner plays widower John Dutton, proprietor of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, his family’s massive Montana sprawl of big business, modern technology and Wild West skill sets. Invulnerable to outside forces for generations, the estate’s prime location in the shadow of Yellowstone National Park now renders it a target for land developers, oil and logging corporations, the neighboring Indian reservation, and locals who feel that the Duttons’ interests have usurped their own progress.
“There’s people that fight for ‘God and country,’ and there’s people that fight for the land that they actually live on,” says Costner of Dutton’s world, where a vicious brand of frontier justice still reigns. “If you’ve ever fought for the land and the people on it — where you sleep, where you feed yourself — you feel the difference. I’m not saying one’s better than the other, but this guy’s fighting for his way of life and his property against a lot of forces. Tricky ones. And he’s got one foot in one century and the other foot in another.” Plus, a crop of grown kids with little interest in taking their father’s place.
“One son [Dave Annable’s Lee Dutton] is very content to just be a wrangler,” Costner explains. “Another son [Wes Bentley’s Jamie] has political aspirations and, while John understands the nature of politics and its place in these things, he despises that. Another son [Luke Grimes’ Kayce] had issues of violence, bad choices made in his teens and went off to war. And John’s daughter [Kelly Reilly’s Beth] lost what a mother can be to a daughter. … John Dutton is, in a sense, the most capable guy from the beginning of the Dutton generations, and yet, he’s the most poised to lose it all because of modernday issues that can attack him and a dysfunctional family that’s made him vulnerable.”
The series is the creation of acclaimed filmmaker Taylor Sheridan, who grew up on Texas ranches and filmed on Montana’s Chief Joseph Ranch — which put the actors in close proximity with the natural perils they were committing to film. But it also imbued them with the spirit of a landscape most of us know only from photographs and the movies. Which means we don’t really know it at all.
“It represents a way of life,” says Costner, who eschews Hollywood for a bucolic Aspen homestead,. “[Taylor] has a grasp of that. … You dance with the prettiest girl. You go to the best script. And the best script was Yellowstone.”
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