‘Yellowstone’: Kevin Costner Explained Why Westerns ‘Aren’t About the Gunfight’

by Chris Haney

After starring in numerous westerns throughout his career, Yellowstone star Kevin Costner would know what it takes to make a great film within the genre. Hint: it’s not just about the gunfight.

During a 2013 interview with Home Business, Costner spoke about his love for cowboy movies. Any fan of the actor’s work knows he’s starred in multiple western-based movies. From the beginning of his career, Costner has featured in westerns.

Kevin Costner’s breakout role came in the 1985 western Silverado. Only six years later, the actor directed and starred in Dances with Wolves. The movie earned Costner both the Best Picture and Best Director awards at the 1991 Oscars. In addition, he starred in Wyatt Earp, Open Range, Let Him Go, and currently is the lead role in the hit TV show Yellowstone.

The journalist asked Costner if westerns were becoming a trend in Hollywood once again. He thinks westerns will always have a place within the entertainment industry. Costner calls the genre of films “a very American thing,” and says he plans on continuing that tradition.

“The western will always be here,” Kevin Costner said during his Home Business interview. “It just depends on how good you make one. And one movie doesn’t kill it. And one movie doesn’t preserve it. It’s storytelling. It’s a very American thing. I’ll continue to do it.”

Kevin Costner Says ‘Drama’ Carries Westerns, Not Gunfights

The man knows what he’s talking about when it comes to westerns. Kevin Costner’s four-decade long career is highlighted with numerous leading roles based on the western way of life back in the day.

However, it may surprise some that the focus of the films to Costner do not revolve around their action scenes. Although he says that gunfights are essential to a good western, it’s more about the drama.

“Westerns aren’t about the gunfight, even though it has to be there at one point. It’s not what they’re about, at least the good ones. It’s about the drama,” Kevin Costner explained.

In fact, Costner shares that it’s about transporting the viewers to a different time and place. It’s about capturing the essence of a time long gone, but that is well-known within American culture and history.

“It’s about the resourcefulness of men and women. It’s about violence and it’s about truly not understanding what it was like to live during that time until you see it,” he says. “A moment that’s created that would put doubt in your mind as to how you would have behaved at that same moment, what you would have done. What kind of man are you in that circumstance. I’m not talking about the obvious thing. But when you draw a western correctly, you create such drama, such dilemma that you think you almost don’t want to admit who you might have been.”