Exploring Some of the Controversies ‘Yellowstone’ Has Faced Over the Years

Here’s an overview of the notable controversies surrounding ‘Yellowstone’ and its team over time. Kelsey Asbille’s casting as a Native American character sparked discussions about her heritage. Although she has been identified as having Cherokee descent, her casting as Monica Dutton, a Native American character in ‘Yellowstone,’ intensified scrutiny. Previously, in Taylor Sheridan’s 2017 film ‘Wind River,’ Asbille portrayed a young Native American woman, which did not initially raise widespread concern.

However, a 2017 New York Times profile described her heritage as “Taiwanese, British, and Eastern Band Cherokee,” noting she did not grow up within an indigenous community. Asbille expressed a deep connection to her role in ‘Wind River,’ stating, “This role, more than any other, it’s in my blood.” Yet, the announcement of her ‘Yellowstone’ role led Adam Beach, a Native American actor from ‘Suicide Squad,’ to call for a boycott of the show, questioning Asbille’s ancestry. Further inquiry by actor-producer Sonny Skyhawk into the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians revealed no records of Asbille’s lineage within the tribe. Asbille herself has not publicly addressed these heritage questions, and her representatives have not commented on the matter.

Luke Grimes faced controversy for reportedly leaving his previous television project due to discomfort with his character’s bisexual storyline. During the seventh season of the vampire drama ‘True Blood,’ it was reported by BuzzFeed that Grimes exited the show because his character was set to engage in a same-sex romance.

This claim was denied by Grimes’ publicist, stating his departure was unrelated to storyline developments and that Grimes was unaware of his character’s upcoming romantic arc with another male character, Lafayette, portrayed by Nelsan Ellis. Ellis, who passed away in 2017, later discussed the controversy, noting a significant episode that featured a romantic scene between Lafayette and James, the character Grimes originally played.”

“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.”

Q’orianka Kilcher in 2019.Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

Q’orianka Kilcher, known for her role as Angela Blue Thunder in the Western series ‘Yellowstone’ since its third season, was cleared of insurance fraud charges in 2022. The actor faced allegations of violating state law by obtaining $96,838 in disability benefits under false pretenses. These benefits were for a neck and shoulder injury Kilcher reported sustaining during the filming of ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ in 2018.

Scrutiny arose when it was discovered that Kilcher began receiving these benefits just five days after concluding her filming for ‘Yellowstone’ in 2019, leading to questions about the validity of her injury claim.

am Elliott (left) and Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Power of the Dog” (right).Paramount+/Netflix

Nonetheless, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office decided to drop all charges against Kilcher in February, absolving her of the accusations related to workers’ compensation insurance fraud. “1883” star Sam Elliott found himself in hot water when he criticized “The Power of the Dog” for its “allusions of homosexuality.”