Would HBO's Deal Falling Apart Have Led to the Premature Demise of Taylor Sheridan's Yellowstone?

Taylor Sheridan, the creator of the hit TV show Yellowstone, narrowly avoided a major problem when it came to casting the lead role. The show has gained immense popularity, and it's all thanks to the incredible performance by actor Kevin Costner as John Dutton. However, things could have turned out very differently if another actor had been chosen. In the early stages of production, the studio had their eyes set on hiring another veteran actor for the role of John Dutton. They were desperate to secure Robert Redford, known for his iconic roles in films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and A Walk in the Woods. In fact, the studio had even made a deal with Redford for the project.

"They said, 'We want Robert Redford'," recalled Taylor Sheridan in a 2023 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "They said, 'If you can get us Robert Redford, we'll greenlight the pilot'." With Redford on board, production for Yellowstone began and the show finally aired in 2018. It quickly became one of the biggest drama series of its time. However, if Redford had taken on the role, Yellowstone would have come to an end much sooner. Redford announced his retirement in 2018, the same year the show made its debut. Sheridan revealed that HBO, the original network for the show, didn't have much faith in Yellowstone. He recalled a conversation with a vice president from HBO who said, "We're HBO, we're avant-garde, we're trendsetters. This feels like a step backward." Although Redford left the series during the transition from HBO to Paramount, his retirement shortly after would have been disastrous for Yellowstone.

Thankfully, the show was spared and Kevin Costner stepped in to portray the iconic character of John Dutton. While Sheridan has moved on to other projects, Yellowstone remains his most famous creation. The show has received high ratings, with an 8.7/10 on IMDB and an average of 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Thanks to Kevin Costner's portrayal of John Dutton, the show has become a massive success and shows no signs of slowing down.