A complete list of all the controversies ‘Yellowstone’ has faced over the years

  • Not all the drama in the “Yellowstone” universe has happened on screen.
  • Cast members like Luke Grimes and Sam Elliott have faced backlash over their behavior.
  • Kelsey Asbille’s casting caused controversy after it was discovered she is not Native American.

Not all the drama on “Yellowstone” has happened on screen, as several of the show’s cast have courted controversy for their actions away from the cameras.

Here’s a rundown of all the controversies the show, its cast, and its creators have faced over the years.

Kelsey Asbille, who plays a Native American character, has been described as being of Cherokee descent, but people have raised questions.

Before “Yellowstone,” Asbille had starred as a young Native American woman in cocreator Taylor Sheridan’s 2017 film “Wind River,” but it was only when she got the role of Monica Dutton, the Native American daughter-in-law of John Dutton (Kevin Costner), that questions about her heritage were raised.

In 2017, the New York Times said she was “Taiwanese, British and Eastern Band Cherokee,” but added that she “did not grow up in an indigenous community.”

Asbille herself told the outlet that she had an “intense connection” to her Native “Wind River” character, adding: “This role, more than any other, it’s in my blood.”

However, with the news of her casting in “Yellowstone,” Native American “Suicide Squad” actor Adam Beach started a campaign to boycott the series amid questions about Asbille’s ancestry.

Another Native actor-producer, Sonny Skyhawk, made inquiries to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians tribal nation, which responded that they had no record of Asbille, nor could they find any evidence she was a lineal descendant of any members of the tribe.

Asbille has never addressed the questions about her heritage.

Representatives for Asbille did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Luke Grimes reportedly walked away from his last television role before “Yellowstone” because he objected to playing a bisexual character.

When Grimes abruptly walked away from playing James in True Blood” in late 2013 after just six episodes, HBO attributed his decision to “the creative direction of the character.”

In 2014, when season seven of the vampire drama began airing — with actor Nathan Parsons taking over the role —  BuzzFeed reported that Grimes had actually left the show because he was uncomfortable playing a character who has a same-sex romance.

Grimes’ publicist denied this, telling the outlet that his departure “had nothing to do with storylines,” and that the actor had not been “privy” to the upcoming romantic development between his character and another male character, Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis).

Ellis, who passed away in 2017, addressed the controversy in an interview with Vulture after the episode that featured Lafayette and James’ first sex scene aired.

“I mean, I can say I’m not going to make a comment, but I just think that, you’re an actor, you’re an actor on a show that’s ‘True Blood,’ we’re all sitting there going, ‘You quit your job because … really?'” he said. “I’m just … I’m over him.”

“You make a statement, a big statement, when you go, ‘I don’t want to play this part because it’s gay,'” said Ellis. “If you have a child, if you have a son, and he comes out as gay, what are you going to do? If you have a daughter who comes out gay…? You just made a statement, and it has ripple effects.”

Representatives for Grimes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Q’orianka Kilcher was accused of insurance fraud last year, but the charges have been dropped.

Kilcher, who has had a recurring role as Angela Blue Thunder in the Western series since season three, was charged with two felony counts of workers’ compensation insurance fraud in 2022.

The actor was accused of breaking state law by collecting $96,838 in disability benefits between October 2019 and September 2021 for a neck and shoulder injury she sustained while shooting the movie “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” in 2018.

Questions were raised about the legitimacy of the claim as she started receiving benefits five days after she wrapped filming on “Yellowstone” in 2019.


However, in February, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office dismissed all charges against the actor.

“1883” star Sam Elliott found himself in hot water when he criticized “The Power of the Dog” for its “allusions of homosexuality.”

The actor, who scored himself a SAG Award for his portrayal of grief-stricken cowboy Shea Brennan in the first “Yellowstone” prequel series, sounded off against the Oscar-winning film while appearing on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast in 2022.

Elliott described the film as a “piece of shit” Western with “allusions of homosexuality.”

He also questioned New Zealand-born filmmaker Jane Campion’s suitability to the genre, asking: “What the fuck does this woman from down there know about the American West?”

“Why the fuck did she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana? And say this is the way it was? That fucking rubbed me the wrong way,” he added.

A month later, Elliott apologized for his comments at a Deadline event.

The show’s main cast dropped out of an appearance at PaleyFest in Los Angeles just hours before they were due to appear.

In April, “Yellowstone” made its Paley Fest debut with what was promised to be a special screening followed by a conversation and Q&A with the series’ main cast.

Kevin Costner, Kelly Reilly, Cole Hauser, Luke Grimes, Kelsey Asbille, Wes Bentley, Gil Birmingham, and Jacki Weaver, as well as executive producers Taylor Sheridan and David Glasser, were all slated to appear.

However, in a last-minute shake-up, the entire PaleyFest lineup changed with none of the original talent present. Instead, Josh Lucas, Dawn Olivieri, Wendy Moniz, and Mo Brings Plenty sat on the panel with Paramount Network development president Keith Cox.

The special screening likewise turned out to be a disappointment to many as it was just a rerun of the series’ most recent episode.

A month after the incident, Reilly cleared up confusion over why she was a no-show, telling a fan on Instagram that she “was filming in the UK at the time, and let them know in January I wouldn’t be able to attend.”

“I was sorry to hear my name was still on the list of attendees, as it is unfair to our fans,” she added.

Rumors of a behind-the-scenes feud between Sheridan and Costner began to circulate in February. In May, it was confirmed the drama would be ending with season five.

Deadline reported in February that Sheridan, Paramount Global, and Paramount Network were looking to end the neo-western drama after its current fifth season because of disagreements with Costner over shooting schedules.

The actor, who this year won a Golden Globe for his performance as aging rancher John Dutton, reportedly wanted to significantly cut back his number of days on set in Montana for the remaining episodes of season five (presumably because he is working on a Western epic which he is directing, co-writing, and starring in).

Costner’s attorney pushed back on the claims about his client and a Paramount boss even said at PaleyFest that the network was “very confident he is going to continue with our show.”

However, after months of speculation, it was announced in early May that “Yellowstone” was indeed coming to an end, and a new spinoff had been greenlit.

The news came just days after it was announced that Costner was also facing some personal problems after his wife of 18 years filed for divorce.


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