Fans just can’t get enough of Paramount Network’s Yellowstone (2018- ), which is soon to release its fifth season.
Starring Kevin Costner, Cole Hauser, Luke Grimes, and Kelly Reilly in lead roles, the show depicts real-world issues in the Montana ranching community.
The popular drama revolves around the Dutton family, whose members live on the largest ranch in the state of Montana. However, the privilege comes at a cost, as the Duttons must constantly fight to protect their land from all those who want it for themselves.
There are various aspects of the show that make Yellowstone unique among all western dramas. In this article, we bring you 15 fascinating facts about the series every Yellowstone fan must know!
1. The Dutton Ranch is a Real Working Ranch
The Dutton family home is more than just a film set, it’s a real working ranch with a rich history. Currently known as the Chief Joseph Ranch, the property spans 150 acres in the picturesque Bitterroot Valley near Darby, Montana.
The ranch was originally scouted by Yellowstone‘s location manager and booked via a “cold call”. Besides the main house, filming also took place at the corrals, barns, round pen, cabins, armory, bunkhouse, cemetery, and the surrounding wilderness.
When the Yellowstone crew is not filming, the place operates as a cattle and guest ranch. Visitors can book either Lee Dutton’s or Rip’s luxurious cabins and even bring their own horse!
Every reservation at the Chief Joseph Ranch includes a tour of the property and film sets.
2. Taylor Sheridan Supplies Most of the Horses in Yellowstone
When it comes to the show’s authenticity, Sheridan likes to leave nothing to chance.
“As far as my horses go, I supply most of the horses to ‘Yellowstone,’ my TV show,” Sheridan said. “And then I have horses that I show and breed.”
Indeed, the show’s creator is also a two-time ranch owner who owns several horse and cattle breeding operations in Texas. His mission is to produce the world’s best ranch horses and Angus cattle.
Sheridan regularly competes his Quarter horses in reining and cutting and has won several awards for his work.
3. There is an Annual Cowboy Camp for Yellowstone Actors
Every year, Yellowstone‘s core cast must undergo an intensive training program in preparation for the show’s next season. Disguised as “Cowboy Camp”, it involves learning how to rope ‘n ride, herd cattle, and live off the grid like real cowboys.
Organized by Taylor Sheridan, the purpose of Cowboy Camp is to give actors an idea of what it’s like to live like their characters. Among the attendants are Cole Hauser (Rip Wheeler), Luke Grimes (Kayce Dutton), Wes Bentley (Jamie Dutton), Denim Richards (Colby), and Jefferson White (Jimmy Hurdstrom).
On the other hand, certain cast members were given an exemption from Cowboy Camp. Kevin Costner (John Dutton) and Forrie J. Smith (Lloyd Pierce) are already experienced riders, while Kelly Reilly (Beth Dutton) has no riding scenes in Yellowstone and wasn’t required to attend.
4. Many Yellowstone Actors Are Real-Life Cowboys
Part of the reason why Yellowstone feels so authentic is that several actors are real-life cowboys.
Forrie J. Smith, for example, grew up on a Montana ranch and has been riding since the age of eight. He even helped design the Yellowstone bunkhouse according to set decorator Carla Curry.
Other seasoned cowboys in the show include Jake Ream (Jake), Ryan Bingham (Walker), and Taylor Sheridan (Travis Wheatly).
Jake Ream actually started out as a wangler on the show and was put in charge of organizing Cowboy Camp. Bingham also helps out behind the scenes by giving out riding tips and advice.
6. Reining Champion Andrea Fappani appears in Yellowstone
Andrea Fappani is a champion horse rider who appears in a few show episodes. During the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity event Season 1 Episode 5, he appears riding the sorrel stallion Lil Joe Cash.
A $5 million dollar rider and three times NRHA Futurity champion, Fappani’s name is among the biggest in the sport. He owns Fappani Performance Horses and produces some of the top reining horses in the industry.
7. The Biker Scene in Yellowstone Has a Hidden Meaning
In Season 3 Episode 4 “Going Back to Cali”, the Duttons butt heads with a group of bikers trespassing on their land. While the story seems just like every other in the Yellowstone series, it also has a hidden meaning few fans know about.
According to IMDb, Taylor Sheridan didn’t leave his previous role on Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014) on the best of terms. He played Deputy Chief David Hale through seasons 1-3 until his character was killed off due to a contract dispute.
Since Sons of Anarchy portrays the biker subculture, the Yellowstone episode may have been a way for Sheridan to cleanse the bad taste in his mouth from his past. After all, the bikers are taught a brutal lesson by the Yellowstone gang that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
8. Beth Dutton’s Character Was “the most challenging of them all” for Kelly Reilly
British actress Kelly Reilly has found Beth Dutton the most challenging of all the characters she ever played. However, despite her insecurity, she was the only actress Sheridan ever considered for the role.
Reilly is no newcomer to the acting world, although she wasn’t well-known in the United States before Yellowstone. Her previous acting credits include Flight (2012), Sherlock Holmes (2009), and Eden Lake (2008).
After her outstanding performance on Yellowstone. Few would believe that Reilly is nothing like Beth in real life. She even admitted to being an introvert and a homebird, who is not interested in being famous. However, the way Sheridan wrote her character really aligned with her.
“I knew immediately this was a storm of a woman who wasn’t just one thing. That resonated with me,” the actress told Awards Daily.
9. Ryan Bingham Who Plays Walker is a Real-Life Singer
Walker is a popular Yellowstone character due to his charm, rebellious nature, and singing talent. His songs are the highlights of many Yellowstone scenes, which is no surprise given that the actor is a real-life singer.
Ryan Bingham is an accomplished singer-songwriter with six studio albums under his belt. For a song he wrote for the movie Crazy Heart (2009), titled “The Weary Kind”, he received an Oscar, a Grammy, and a Golden Globe Award.
10. Kelsey Asbille’s Casting as Monica Was Controversial
Kelsey Asbille’s casting as Monica Dutton sparked a wave of backlash in the indigenous community. Upon being cast in Yellowstone, she told the New York Times that she is part Cherokee and that playing a Native role was “in [her] blood“.
The article prompted an investigation into her claim which found no proof that Asbille is of Eastern Band of Cherokee descent. As a result, several members of the Native community accused the actress of being a fraud.
One of the loudest voices speaking up against the casting decision was Adam Beach, known for his role in Suicide Squad (2016), Flags of Our Fathers (2006), and Windtalkers (2002). He even called for all Native actors to refuse to work on Yellowstone until the role was recast.
11. Only 4% of Yellowstone National Park Lies in Montana
Although the series is primarily set in Montana, only 4% of Yellowstone National Park lies within the state. 95% of YNP in fact lies in Wyoming, with approximately 1% in Idaho.
However, the famous national park has nothing to do with the series, as “Yellowstone” is the name of the Dutton ranch. It is also the name of a river that runs from northwestern Wyoming through Montana and into North Dakota.
The Yellowstone river might also run through the valley of the fictional ranch, although there is no mention of this in the series.
12. Cole Hauser Didn’t Have to Audition for the Role of Rip
Unlike other actors, Cole Hauser never had to audition for his role on Yellowstone. Sheridan knew he would make a perfect Rip from Day 1 and even wrote the character into more scenes as the show went on.
“There were some things he had done that I saw, where there was an intensity and a clarity of what that character wanted,” Sheridan told Deadline. “There is no subtext with the guy, and that’s what I really liked.”
Due to his connections, Hauser was one of the first actors to read the Yellowstone pilot. The role of Rip instantly resonated with him, and the rest, as they say, is history.
13. In Sheridan’s Mind, a Yellowstone Season is a “10-hour movie”
Sheridan’s original proposal to Paramount was to make a movie titled Yellowstone about the challenges facing Montana ranchers.
While the network signed a contract for a TV series, Sheridan essentially made “a very long movie that they showed on television.”
When creating the show, Sheridan styled everything so that viewers feel like they are watching a movie rather than a TV series.
From the script down to details like camera lenses and aspect ratio, all elements of Yellowstone reflect the creator’s unique approach (Source: Variety).
14. Kevin Costner was Paid $500,000 per episode during Season 1
The incredible sum was paid out to “send a message”, according to Paramount Network chief Kevin Kay. Before Yellowstone, Paramount was known as Spike TV and wanted to attract high-profile actors as part of the rebranding process.
At the same time, Costner was the only actor Sheridan ever considered for the role of John Dutton. Being a huge admirer of Costner’s work, he was eager to involve him in a project even before Yellowstone was conceived in his mind.
“Kevin’s one of the biggest movie stars of the past 40 years, and well deserved,” Sheridan told Variety. “He’s an incredible storyteller as a director, writer, and actor, and so when you have that tool in your toolbox, you can write him into some really conflicting situations.”
It is now thought that Kevin Costner gets paid $1m per episode in season 5.
15. Kevin Costner’s Band Wrote Songs for Yellowstone
As it turns out, Ryan Bingham is not the only professional singer in the Yellowstone cast. Costner’s band ‘Kevin Costner & Modern West’ has so far released four studio albums and even wrote some songs for Yellowstone itself.
Their 2020 album “Tales From Yellowstone” is a special collection of songs written from John Dutton’s perspective.
The lead single of the album “Won’t Stop Loving You” is about how everything on the ranch reminds John of the loss of his wife, Evelyn Dutton.