Yellowstone co-creator Taylor Sheridan recently sat down to explain how he keeps the authenticity of ranching alive within the hit Paramount series.
The popular show headed by John Dutton actor Kevin Costner has gained quite the following since its debut in June 2018. The drama follows Costner’s character who is the patriarch of a powerful, complicated family of ranchers. The sixth-generation homesteader owns the largest ranch in the United States, which just happens to be right beside Yellowstone National Park. As land developers, politicians, and more try to encroach on the Dutton family’s land, they must navigate constant conflicts in the area.
While there’s plenty of Hollywood drama within the series, Sheridan puts an emphasis on authenticity. For a show based on the way of life on a working Montana ranch, it’s imperative to the show’s story. That’s why many of the actors in the series come from genuine backgrounds.
Take Forrie J. Smith, for example, who plays Lloyd. He’s a real cowboy who grew up around the Montana rodeo circuit. Additionally, Chief Rainwater’s right-hand man, Mo Brings Plenty, hails from the Lakota Nation and was raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There’s also numerous bit roles played by actual cowboys and horse wranglers.
‘Yellowstone’ Creator Wants to Show Fans the World He Grew Up In
Screenwriter, director, actor, and creator Taylor Sheridan grew up on a ranch in Cranfills Gap, Texas. He spent his early days much like the Dutton family in the Paramount series. Yellowstone‘s official Twitter account shared a short interview of Sheridan where he touched on the importance of the show’s authenticity.
“I strive for authenticity. I strive to show people the world I grew up in,” Sheridan explained. “The jobs in the American west haven’t changed much in the past century. You still do the job the same way. In order to get food on the table it involves a horse, it involves a rider, and it involves your hands.”
“There’s few jobs that are a way of life,” the Yellowstone creator continued. “If you’re ranching, or you’re farming, your job is your way of life. You’re never off-duty. There is no clock to punch.”
“So it just comes back to authenticity,” he added. “I don’t rehearse with my actors. There’s no way for me to inform them what this way of life is, you just have to do it. The better I can make them understand the thing they’re acting out, the better the performances, the more authentic the scenes look, then it looks real. I just take my actors and put ’em to work. So when they perform their character, they’re just doing another form of the job. Anyone who ranches for a living, anyone who cowboys for a living, when they see my work I want them to say, ‘That’s how you do it.'”