Kevin Costner is returning to the director’s chair for the first time in nearly 20 years, and in a new interview, he reveals the epic scope of his upcoming film.
Costner is slated to both direct and star in Horizon, a sweeping Western that tells the story of America’s westward expansion. Talking to Variety on the carpet at the UK premiere of Paramount+, Costner reveals that he plans to break the enormous project up into four separate movies that will likely see release “about every three months.”
“They’re all different films that all connect, so you’re watching a saga of these storylines that are happening,” Costner says, adding that he’s currently trying to fill 170 different speaking roles before filming is set to commence at the end of August.
Costner is also producing the film through his Territory Pictures as part of a deal with Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema.
“It’s a really beautiful story; it’s a hard story,” Costner tells Variety, adding that the storylines focus on a lot of women.
“There are a lot of men in it, too, but the women are really strong in Horizon. It’s just them trying to get by every day in a world that was impossibly tough,” Costner notes. “They were often [dragged] out to these places because that’s where the men wanted to go; women were following their men. They didn’t ask to be in these territories that were unsettled and dangerous, and life wasn’t easy. I’ve chosen to make sure that was really obvious, that that wasn’t easy, and how vulnerable people were.”
Horizon covers a 15-year period of time before and after the Civil War, during which settlers were undertaking the expansion and settlement of the American West. Costner has been interested in bringing the film to the screen for a number of years, hoping to emulate the epic scale and sweep of his multiple Oscar-winning classic Dances With Wolves.
He tells Variety he sold the project as an “event television movie,” but it may very well be presented multiple ways in light of streaming services.
“I’m happiest because at one point in TV — where you can get your largest audience — they’re going to get to see it the way I intended it to be seen,” he states. “It will eventually be cut up into [hour-long episodes] or 42 minutes — however TV works. But their first viewing of it will be as four 2 hour and 45-minute movies. And every three months, one will come out. If you’re interested in those characters, the hope is that you’ll really want to watch the next one, but it won’t be in hour segments.”
The project has a massive shooting schedule of 220 days, and Costner says he’ll be devoting “a mountain of time” to shooting, in addition to his ongoing starring role as John Dutton on Yellowstone, which is currently in the midst of shooting Season 5.
“I’m as pressed as I’ve ever been in my life in terms of the responsibilities and the amount of decisions I’m having to make every day, between doing what I’m doing every day for Yellowstone and my own [work],” the Oscar winner acknowledges. “There’s a lot of people standing behind me waiting for me to make decisions and things like that.”
Season 5 of Yellowstone began shooting in Montana in mid-May, and it’s set to premiere on Nov. 13.
The new season will consist of 14 episodes airing in two arcs of 7 episodes apiece. Seasons 1-4 of the hit Paramount Network show are currently available to stream via Peacock.