Skip to main content

Kevin Costner On Yellowstone's Main Unrealistic Element, And The Questions He Gets A Lot From Beth Fans

John at the dinner table on Yellowstone
(Image credit: Paramount Network)

When it comes to delivering character-rooted entertainment that stands the test of time, Kevin Costner boasts more than just a little experience, and it stands to reason that Yellowstone could go down as one of his most popular and iconic works. Which you might not think would happen with a show where tantric sex is discussed at the dinner table, but so be it. In Costner’s mind (and he’s not alone), one of Yellowstone’s biggest draws is the characters’ authenticity, which derives from co-creator Taylor Sheridan’s writing mastery and his intentional avoidance of genre tropes and clichés within his narratives. Of course, not everything about the Paramount Network neo-western is completely realistic, and the actor revealed even some fans seem to have missed the memo on that front. 

The Main Way Yellowstone Isn’t Realistic, Per Kevin Costner 

From the highly complicated relationships among the Dutton family members to the ways the Yellowstone’s most loyal employees handle themselves on the ranch, Kevin Costner clearly views this corner of Taylor Sheridan’s universe as being the real McCoy, as it were. (The actor won his sole Lead Actor Emmy for playing Devil Anse Hatfield in Hatfields & McCoys.) But in speaking about that in a conversation with other cast members for a group interview moderated by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation ahead of this year’s awards ceremony, Costner shared what he thinks the least realistic element of the show is, saying: 

No one wants to be a cliche in anything, whether it’s your personal life or anything, and so I think we really avoided that. I mean, in a lot of ways, the only thing that is not realistic is how many people we murder. That’s a function of heightened television and all that, but if you strip that part away that kind of has to be there in the level of entertainment with how broad you can go, everything reduces itself down.

When it comes down to it, the Duttons aren’t completely unlike tons of families in the U.S. and beyond, by way of sibling rivalries and parental protection and inherited traumas. Of course, most families don’t handle their biggest issues by putting bullets in them and dumping them across state lines. But then again, most families don’t have to deal with dick-headed monsters like the Beck brothers and Wade Morrow, so who’s to know just how much realism was invested in those characters’ deaths?

In any case, Kevin Costner definitely knows that fans tune into Yellowstone to see those kinds of pulse-punding moments, but he also believes that it’s the more genuine moments between the characters out in gorgeous landscapes that keep veiwers fully engaged even when the bullets aren’t flying. 

What Kevin Costner Hears From Yellowstone Fans A Lot 

While in the middle of making the above point, Kevin Costner interrupted himself to bring up how his fans aren’t always so great about separating the real-life actor from the characters he plays. While I doubt anyone would mistakenly identify him as being the actual adopted father of Earth’s greatest superhero, Costner apparently does frequently hear from fans who aren’t so quick to viewing the actor as being mutually exclusive from John Dutton, at least when it comes to Kelly Reilly’s firecracker Beth. Here’s how he put it:

I have people who come up to me and say, ‘What are you gonna do about Beth?’ And I was like, ‘What?’ [Laughs.] They either want to know how to meet her, or they want to know what I’m going to do about her.

One has to assume that the people asking Kevin Costner about his interactions with “Beth” are speaking self-awarely, and just want to see what will happen on the show, since the alternative implies something much more bothersome. That said, I kinda like the idea of someone watching this year’s Oscars ceremony and wondering why John Dutton was invited to introduce a segment on West Side Story. And I’d also be curious to see a pack of wildly misguided Yellowstone universe superfans taking a historical pilgrimage across the country following the route taken by Tim McGraw’s James Dutton and Sam Elliott’s Shea Brennan in Paramount+’s 1883, believing it to be as factual as researchable tales from the Oregon Trail. 

For now, the reality for Yellowstone fans is that we’re currently in a drought, with 1883 wrapping up in January (possibly for good), with unconfirmed release windows for future spinoffs 6666 and 1932, and a presumed debut for the Teeter-filled Season 5 later in the fall. Until then, all four seasons can be streamed on Peacock, or purchased on Blu-ray and DVD.  

Nick Venable
Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.