Kevin Costner explains leaving 'Yellowstone': A return was 'not in the cards'

Kevin Costner is explaining his reasoning for breaking the hearts of "Yellowstone" fans by announcing that he will not be returning to his role as John Dutton in the hit neo-Western series.

Speaking directly to fans in an informal video posted on his Instagram and social media pages late Thursday night, Costner, 69, said he would not participate in the second half of "Yellowstone" Season 5 — the series' final episodes — currently being shot in Montana.

"I just wanted to let you know that I won't be returning," Costner said in the video released the same day the Paramount Network announced a Nov. 10 premiere date for the final "Yellowstone" episodes.

In an interview Friday following his viral video release, Costner told USA Today that he was tired of holding out hope for a "Yellowstone" return when asked about the series during his extended media tour promoting his Western film series Horizon.

Media inquiries about John Dutton's return were the "overwhelming question that would occur in almost every interview," said Costner.

"Simply with all the questions that were being asked (about 'Yellowstone'), the longer I thought about that ... I just wanted to say that this is a stepping-off point," said Costner. "Whatever I'd hoped for maybe was not in the cards. I don't want to keep saying, 'Yeah, I hope I can do it.' That's drifted to a place that I don't think is realistic anymore."

Costner said there was not a specific act in his return talks with Paramount Studios and executive producer Taylor Sheridan to spark the impromptu video. He didn't want to hold out for optimism that wasn't there.

"I just wanted to get that done," Costner said of making the video. "I'm not a machine trying to figure this out. But I'm not a person that leaves people high and dry."

What does Kevin Costner say in his 'Yellowstone' video?

Instead of "Yellowstone," Costner will focus on other movies and "Horizon," the four-part Western movie series he has produced, co-written, directed and stars in.

"I just want to reach out and let you know that after this long year-and-a-half of working on 'Horizon' and doing all the things that has required," Costner said in the video. "And thinking about 'Yellowstone,' that beloved series that I love. That I know you love. I just realized that I'm not going to be able to continue Season Five B or into the future."

Kevin Costner will not be returning as John Dutton in "Yellowstone."
Kevin Costner will not be returning as John Dutton in "Yellowstone."

Costner praised the central role in the Taylor Sheridan drama, which led to an international hit and a career power resurgence. "It's something that really changed me," he said. I loved it, and I know you loved it."

The first "Horizon" film, which Costner has said he paid $38 million of his own money to finance, hits theaters June 28. The second movie, "Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 2," will be released eight weeks later on Aug. 16. Costner is already shooting the third movie in Utah.

He ended the video by reaching out to the "Yellowstone" fans. "I love the relationship we've been able to develop," he said. "And I'll see you at the movies."

Fans immediately mourned the news on social media. One of the top video comments stated, "'Yellowstone' won't be the same without you. Ultimately, you have to do what's best for you. I look forward to seeing all the chapters of 'Horizon.'"

"There is no 'Yellowstone' without Kevin Costner," one fan wrote on X with three broken heart emojis.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kevin Costner leaving 'Yellowstone': Why he's quitting show