In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter and a few of his “Yellowstone” costars back in June, Kevin Costner spoke about what makes a “good Western.” He also highlighted the difficulties of the genre, calling it “America’s Shakespeare.” Recently, Costner posted a clip from the interview where he discussed that aspect of “Yellowstone,” and how they get it right.
“From a Western standpoint,” he began, “the reason why there’s so many bad ones is because they don’t realize how complicated it was [at that time]. And Western’s aren’t based just on the gunfight. They’re based on the literature of how people live their life and how they spoke with each other. The danger that was involved in living in an unknown area without really a level of protection that we know today in this particular century.”
Essentially, a lot of Western writers and especially filmmakers focus on the sensational things. Horse races, the gunfights, and the dramatic, overdone elements of a Western. Really, Western life was so nuanced and complicated. There was plenty of death and failure when trying to homestead unfamiliar land. But, there were also triumphs and advancements along the way. When writing a Western, it’s important to focus on the characters as real people. The mistakes come when you think of them as embellishments in a dramatic world. They need to be working parts of a whole machine, not just vague afterthoughts. Otherwise, the story won’t work.
Kevin Costner continued, “They had to be resourceful, they had to be a lot of things,” he said, speaking of people during Western times. “And so when you make a Western, if you don’t acknowledge those abilities, that native intelligence and also the random acts of violence that occurred when you’re out here […] I think that’s why they can miss the mark more often than they make it. It’s complicated. It’s our Shakespeare, really. The Western.”
‘Yellowstone’ Fans Are Loving Kevin Costner’s Approach to a ‘Good Western’
On Costner’s post, which he captioned “The art of a good western,” fans flocked to the comments to share their support for the actor. “I’m so into this!” wrote one fan, while others shared the sentiment as well. “This Costner/Western Era is great!” wrote another. “Yellowstone and his movie ‘Let Him Go’ are INCREDIBLE.”
More “Yellowstone” fans praised Kevin Costner’s work and attitude, claiming he’s “the best” and “Everything you do is art.” Costner has firmly brought himself back from making sub-par films. While he’s never not been a household name as an actor, there was a time where he wasn’t making the blockbusters we was initially known for. He has, though, had enough experience with Westerns that he can definitely speak to their difficulty.
Kevin Costner and his costars frequently praise Taylor Sheridan for his creative vision with “Yellowstone.” In the interview, Costner continued, “And we have our creative influence, Taylor [Sheridan], who’s the author of all this, has a great grasp of not only the economy of language that goes with [those] kind of Western themes. He actually has more knowledge about it than really anyone I know.”