Cowboys haven’t gone away. Many western ranchers still fit the description and proudly call themselves cowboys. There are five real cowboys in Yellowstone.
Yellowstone is a story about a ranch family struggling to hold onto their Montana ranch. Kevin Costner plays the leader/patriarch of the Dutton family. The story covers five seasons of struggles with politics, bloodshed, and tactics that wouldn’t be acceptable in today’s world. The setting of this show was the west during the modern day, but this location is one of the roughest and toughest places in America.
Authenticity brought to the screen
Although Yellowstone features some big-name actors, the beauty and importance of this show is how it aims to be as authentic as possible. This is captured by using the Montana setting and stunts that place characters in possible scenarios with period-themed items that would have been available at the time. Although most viewers expect to see western rough-riders played by actors in this show, five of the cast and crew involved in this show are real cowboys. This helps make Yellowstone even more captivating.
Taylor Sheridan – The Creator is a Real Cowboy
Taylor Sheridan is an actor and the creator of Yellowstone, but he is also a real cowboy. The creation of this show came from Sheridan’s childhood in Texas, which easily adds authenticity to the story. During the show, Sheridan plays the recurring role of Travis Wheatley. This character is a rodeo cowboy and frequent horse trader during the show. Sheridan has the credentials to be authentic. He learned to be a cowboy at an early age, growing up on his family ranch in Cranfills Gap. This experience helped inspire Yellowstone and other works in the neo-Western genre, including Hell or High Water and Wind River.
Forrie J. Smith – Plays Lloyd
Another actual cowboy making frequent appearances in this show is the man playing the character of Lloyd. The actor is Forrie J. Smith, who grew up riding horses at his grandparents’ ranch in the same setting of Montana used for Yellowstone. Smith comes from a long line of rodeo riders, which he has been part of since he was eight years old. Smith chose to get into the entertainment industry by doing stunt work and stunt acting. He worked with Taylor Sheridan doing stunt work in Hell or High Water.
Jake Ream – Plays Jake
Jake Ream first appeared in Yellowstone as one of the Dutton Ranch hands at the end of the first season. Jake Ream is one of the five real cowboys in Yellowstone, and he has had recurring appearances throughout the rest of the five seasons of the show. During season 3, Jake received the Yellowstone brand, solidifying his connection to the Dutton family and the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. Jake Ream worked with horses before the show and grew up riding them. Eventually, he created his own horse training facility in Utah and met Taylor Sheridan through a horse he sold to Sheridan without realizing who he was.
Ryan Bingham – Plays Walker
Ryan Bigham began his life as a cowboy at an early age and entered rodeo at age 17. He eventually rode on the rodeo team at Tarleton University but eventually switched to music. He met Taylor Sheridan and collaborated with him on Wind River, leading to his work on Yellowstone. He appears as Walker during the show and has been a recurring member since the first season when he received his Yellowstone branding. The role of Walker was specifically written for Bingham to play.
Ethan Lee- Plays Ethan
Ethan Lee was part of the staff running the cowboy boot camps for the Yellowstone actors that weren’t already real cowboys. Lee grew up riding horses and worked as a rodeo trick rider before entering the entertainment industry. The role of Ethan began in season three after Lee stepped in as a stunt double. Before the end of season 3, Lee earned his Yellowstone branding, which make him a full-fledged member of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. His role is one of the most authentic additions to the last three seasons of this show.
These five real cowboys add a great deal of authenticity and real-life experiences to Yellowstone. This authentic feeling is part of what makes this neo-Western series such a hit. Taylor Sheridan created a few offshoot series from the success of the original and continues to create as much authenticity as possible with modern-day Western characters.
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