‘Yellowstone’ TV: Kevin Costner Uses Late-Father’s Winchester Rifle in Role of John Dutton

by Katie Maloney

Kevin Costner says his father was like John Dutton “minus the murder.”

During its first season, it was easy to write off Kevin Costner’s character, John Dutton on Yellowstone as a rough-and-tumble kind of guy. But there’s a lot more to John than meets the eye. During the second season, fans got to see some of John’s walls come down as he really showed the pain he grapples with after the death of his wife, Evelyn. As the seasons continue, regardless of your opinion of John, there’s one thing you can say about him: he’s fierce. He fiercely protects his land. He fiercely protects his family, whether they agree with the way he does it or not. And, in a way, he’s kind of like Kevin Costner’s own dad, William Costner. At least, that’s what Costner said during an interview. Costner even said that the .30-30 gun he uses on Yellowstone belonged to his late father.

“Yeah. My dad was a fistfighting, single-minded tough guy coming out of the Dust Bowl in the Great Depression,” said Costner. “He wanted a job and never let it be taken away from him. The [Winchester] .30-30 gun I use in the show was his. When I put it up to my cheek, my dad’s right there. I know what it’s like to be a person that’s kind of a John Dutton—minus the murder.”

Who Is Kevin Costner’s Father?

William Costner grew up on land not too different from the Duttons’. He was one of 11 children raised on a wheat farm in the panhandle of Oklahoma. They did well for themselves until the Great Depression and Dust Bowl took over. During his induction speech for the Hall of Great Western Performers, Costner talked about his father’s upbringing.

“It was the Great Depression, and our family would never recover: 50,000 bushels of wheat would spoil waiting for the price to go up and it never did. And the Dust Bowl that followed would roll over a generation.”

William moved to Compton, California to escape the poverty-stricken land he grew up on. During another interview, Kevin talked about the struggles his father faced after moving to California.

“They were hard-bark people. He came and worked on the dams, and was discriminated against in California because they had taken jobs in the late 20s and 30s,” said Costner. “He only had one job and was afraid to lose the job he had because he had seen so many men out of work.”

In a way, Kevin Costner’s dad taught him how to make it in Hollywood.

“He [My dad] was tough. He was a fighter, he could fight. And he taught me in a way that was designed to win,” said Costner during an interview.

With two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards, we agree that Kevin Costner’s dad definitely taught him how to win.