Kevin Costner Explains How ‘Yellowstone’ Universe Keeps Casting Major Stars

by Jon D. B.

Kevin Costner delves into why he, Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, Sam Elliott, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and more continue to flock to the Yellowstone franchise.

Half a decade ago, if you’d told anyone Kevin Costner would be leading a Western television show, they’d have guffawed. Some still do. Yet series creator Taylor Sheridan has built a bonified empire with Yellowstone; something the show’s first spinoff, 1883, would solidify.

Sam Elliott. Tim McGraw. Faith Hill. Tom Hanks. Billy Bob Thornton. These are some of the biggest names in entertainment, period, and Sheridan managed to cast them all – together – in a single prequel. For the next spinoff, 1923, he’s brought in Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren.

Pictured: Tim McGraw as James, Sam Elliott as Shea and Billy Bob Thornton as Marshal Jim Courtright of the Paramount+ original series 1883. Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2021 MTV Entertainment Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Is there another television property banking this much bonified Hollywood star power? How, some might ask, is this the case for Yellowstone?

‘There’s nobody in that group that doesn’t have a high awareness of what they do and what they’re about’

Longtime fans of the series are all-in regardless, and beyond familiar with the quality Sheridan and his casts & crews uphold. But it’s a question worth pondering in an age of seemingly endless big budget, cinematic television shows. And Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr. had Costner, Hill, and McGraw on hand to ask this very question.

“Most everybody that you’ve talked about,” Costner begins of the names above, “the reason they have the careers they have is that they’ve chased the best music,” he offers as an analogy. “They have a bar that they’ve had to get over themselves.”

But really, “What it means is people chase writing,” Costner divulges to immediate nods from Hill and McGraw. “They chase the idea of what they’re doing, that it’s not going to be disposable. That it’s going to last. And everybody [mentioned] has a pretty good compass about what that is.”

Like Costner and Yellowstone, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill joined 1883 “immediately” for Taylor Sheridan’s writing. Sam Elliott has said the same, praising Sheridan as one of the best he’s ever worked with. Yet Costner hits the nail on the head when he speaks to not just the star power of these performers, but the type of legacy they’ve built and what they’re looking to leave behind.

“There’s nobody in that group that doesn’t have a high awareness of what they do and what they’re about,” he praises on behalf of his co-stars. “If you want to have a career, you chase writing.”

Like Kevin Costner and ‘Yellowstone,’ Tim McGraw and Faith Hill Joined ‘1883’ Immediately for Taylor Sheridan’s Writing

“That’s the truth,” Hill agrees, followed by “It’s all about the material, for sure,” from McGraw. And when pressed to see if they would’ve upended their lives together for anything less, McGraw is quick to answer.

Pictured: Tim McGraw as James and Faith Hill as Margaret of the Paramount+ original series 1883. Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2022 MTV Entertainment Studios. All Rights Reserved.

“I have to say yes. It was the material, for sure,” McGraw confirms. “Like Kevin was just saying, if you’re recording a record, whether you’re writing it or whether you’re getting songs from other writers, you throw it all in a pot. Then you start sifting through it. And you pick the best material that you can find. So when you get a script like that, that’s so well written, so brilliantly well written, with the history that it had to start with Yellowstone – which we’re huge fans of,” he motions to Hill. “When you see something like that and it’s so well written and we get to do it together… It was just one of those things that sort of fell in our laps that we couldn’t turn down.”

“We really wanted to do it. We really wanted to be a part of it. And,” he emphasizes, “we didn’t want to let down the cast of Yellowstone,” he smiles to Costner. “We wanted to what they had done, and what they had brought to the table with the bar they had set.”

All signs point to McGraw and Hill leaving 1883 as a phenomenal standalone limited series. But Kevin Costner will return as John Dutton for Yellowstone Season 5 this November 13, exclusively on Paramount Network.