Kevin Costner has finally broken his silence about his departure from Yellowstone, speaking for the first time publicly about what caused him to leave the hit television show.

People reports that Costner took the stand on Friday (Sept. 1) to testify in a hearing over child support in his contentious divorce from his wife of 18 years, Chrstine Baumgartner. One of the issues about setting the dollar amount he will pay is that he is set to earn significantly less income in 2023 than he did in 2022 due to his departure from the show, which he says came after a “long, hard-fought negotiation” about the producers' decision to split Season 5 into two parts.

Costner was already hard at work on his upcoming epic Western, Horizon: An American Saga, which he is directing, producing and starring in. He says he changed his schedule to shoot the first half of Yellowstone Season 5, pointing out, “That’s a big deal in this world.”

But when it came to the second half of Season 5, he was unable to come to an agreement. Costner testified that "they still hadn't finished" the first half of Season 5 while negotiations were taking place, and there were "no scripts written" for the second half. A suggested "pay or play" deal didn't work out, and Costner says he was set to receive $12 million for each half of Season 5.

The Oscar-winning actor and director says he even wanted to continue in his role as John Dutton for a projected sixth season, but “I couldn’t help them any more. We tried to negotiate, they offered me less money than previous seasons, there were issues with the creative…”

In a last-ditch effort to work the situation out, Costner testified that he told his representatives to “have them pay me whatever number, we came up with a number, and they [Yellowstone] walked away." Asked if he is still slated to receive payment for the second half of Season 5, he responded, "I will probably go to court over it."

Paramount Network confirmed in May that Yellowstone will come to an end after the second half of Season 5 airs. Costner's character will reportedly die early in the new episodes, with the rest of the final season devoted to resolving the fallout from his death. A sequel is set to launch right after the show concludes, with Matthew McConaughey rumored to star.

As part of Taste of Country's comprehensive coverage of all things Yellowstone, check out our Dutton Rules podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

PICTURES: See Inside Kevin Costner's Spectacular Colorado Ranch

Yellowstone star Kevin Costner lives the ranch life when he's off the set of the hit show, too. The Oscar-winning actor owns a 160-acre ranch in Aspen, Colo., that's a spectacular getaway, complete with a main residence, a lake house and a river house.

The luxury retreat also features a baseball field, a sledding hill, an ice rink, multiple hot tubs and views of the Continental Divide. The ranch property comfortably sleeps 27 people, and it's currently available to rent for 36,000 a night.

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