SPOILERS ABOUND! In tonight’s tense season climax of his Paramount Network hit television series Yellowstone, Taylor Sheridan got as close as he could to the old fashioned frontier justice showdowns seen in films from High Noon to Wyatt Earp to Sheridan’s directorial debut Wind River. The Ruthless Beck Brothers — played with devilish gusto by Neal McDonough & Terry Serpico — overtook Season Two with their desire for Kevin Costner’s John Dutton to cut them into his Yellowstone Ranch, just as they wanted Danny Huston’s real estate developer Dan Jenkins and Gil Birmingham’s Chief Thomas Rainwater to cut them in on their action. The Becks were roundly turned down, and the blood begins to spill shortly after.
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The Duttons got the full force of Beck retribution when John Dutton’s tough daughter Beth was attacked by two white supremacist thugs sent by the Beck Brothers. Her assistant was murdered and she was brutalized and about to experience much worse when her on and off again boyfriend Rip Wheeler arrived just in time to kill both attackers and save her life, getting shot in the process. After her brother Kayce hung the dead bodies of the thugs in the backyard of Malcolm Beck (McDonough), the feud escalates. The Becks continue to cross the line when they kidnap Dutton’s grandson Tate (Brecken Merrill), the son of former elite soldier Kayce and his Native American wife Monica Dutton (Kelsey Asbille), while the youth runs out to feed his horse. That sets up the final episode as the Duttons seek to rescue the boy, and end the Beck Brothers threat once and for all.
Since its inception, Yellowstone has turned flashbacks into an important storytelling mechanism to unravel the complicated Dutton generational family history. Tonight’s finale opens with Costner’s character, looking years younger, pulling an elderly man out of a hospital bed, unplugging the IVs in his arms and dressing him in the familiar cowboy garb. John Dutton puts his 90-year old father on a horse and off they ride. Played touchingly by Dabney Coleman, the dying 90-year old John Dutton Sr thanks his son for the opportunity to die with his boots on, and they reminisce touchingly perched on a bluff overlooking the ranch. “Don’t let ’em take it away from you son, not a goddam inch,” John Dutton Sr. tells his son, in a stern moment before he nods out after a few sips of whiskey from a flask. Cut to the present: sitting on the porch with right hand man Rip, Dutton vows that too many family members have been taken from him, and that it won’t happen again today, with his grandson’s life hanging in the balance.
That sets the stage for a rescue effort that unfolds slowly, interspersed with some truly touching emotional moments in a meditation on mortality, and fathers and sons.
First, the Beck Brothers send their hired white supremacist mercenaries to attack Jenkins, the interloping real estate developer who has postponed his feud with Dutton to lend his help to fend off their common enemy. Jenkins’ bodyguard (Wole Parks) is murdered and Jenkins sees a black-clad assassin trying to break into his front door. Armed and hiding in a closet, Jenkins manages to kill the gunman and then dispatches a second killer, while absorbing some gunfire himself. But the city boy makes a grave mistake. He stumbles out onto the porch in clear sight, and looks up at the blue sky he so badly wanted to be part of his future. He turns just in time to see a third gunman before he is hit with a fatal gunshot. As he bleeds out on the concrete, Jenkins defiantly mumbles a line he said several times to John Dutton, as they squared off and he tried to justify his ambitions. “I have a right to be here. This is America.” But Jenkins was never prepared for the ferocity that one finds in Yellowstone’s Montana, replete with ruthless ranchers, meth heads, skinheads and other desperadoes.
Back at Yellowstone, John Dutton firms his violent plan to recover his grandson, but he won’t tell it to daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly), because he doesn’t want her to be legally vulnerable, nor son Jamie (Wes Bentley), because he is just unreliable. They key man here is Kayce, who has become the supervisor of the ranch hands, but whose best skill is the one he picked up during tours in the Middle East. He’s good at killing, and ready to take as many lives as necessary to retrieve his beloved son. For John Dutton’s plan to work, he needs the loyalty of County Sheriff Donnie Haskell (Hugh Dillon), who has been at odds all season with Dutton because he clearly is on the Beck Brothers payroll and severely compromised. But Haskell knows his employers have gone too far by kidnapping the boy, brutalizing Beth and murdering Jenkins. Haskell grudgingly tells Dutton where the Becks are holed up, and that it is his own cousins, all lawmen, who are protecting them. Haskell agrees to tell them to stand down, as long as Dutton makes it about a cattle dispute and gets a search warrant before the shooting begins.
Armed with the warrant, Kayce prepares to head off to the Dutton ranch. His father stops him, but doesn’t know how to finish the sentence, as he knows his son could be killed. “Don’t worry dad,” Kayce reassures him. “This is about the only thing I’m good at.” Before he leaves, Kayce stops at the bedside of his wife. After telling him she cannot face the world without his son, Monica asks her husband to make a promise. “Promise me you’ll kill ’em.”
As Malcolm Beck heads off his compound to his office, Sheriff Haskell pulls him over, and the tension escalates quickly. After telling Haskell that he has too many skeletons in his closet to be playing these games, the sheriff makes Beck pop his trunk, to see if the boy is in there. “Do you think I’m that fu*king stupid?” he asks and when Haskell addresses him by his first name, an apoplectic Beck tells Haskell that what he regrets is that the sheriff doesn’t have children. As Beck pulls away, he attempts to call his brother to tell him that the sheriff has switched sides, and to leave the house immediately and head for the skinhead stronghold. He leaves that in a message because his brother doesn’t answer.
Dutton finishes his preparations by phoning Rainwater and advising him to stay on the reservation; after the murder of Jenkins, Rainwater will clearly be next. The chief tells Dutton he is prepared, and that as a show of support, Rainwater will send his own trained killer to help Dutton finish the Beck Brothers mission. Dutton tells Kayce to head to the Beck house.
When Kayce is let onto the property by Haskell’s lawman cousins, it soon becomes clear that Teal Beck never got the message. He’s sitting on the toilet when Kayce shoots him three times in the abdomen, leaving him alive because he needs to know where his son is being kept. “There’s a lot of stuff I can shoot before you die,” he calmly tells Teal. Kayce learns where his son is being held, by the Montana Free Militia and Teal tells them where they are holed up. Teal seems completely shocked and aghast to have been shot up and he is horrified at the indignity of dying on the toilet. When Kayce asks how he could possibly be surprised that the Duttons would fight back, Teal unbelievably replied that nobody ever fights back. Keeping a promise to his wife, Kayce polishes off Beck Brother #1 with a shot to the heart and then rigs it so that it looks like the corpse lost a shootout.
Dutton then gives Beth an addendum to the trust that controls the ranch. And soon she is with her lover Rip, who is limping from gunshots he absorbed saving her. Feeding the horses, Rip is feeling impotent for being unable to take part in the rescue effort. Beth asks him to walk with her, and they are soon in front of an empty ranch on the property. She pulls out an envelope and begins to read. Rip, who came to Yellowstone as a youth after he killed his own violent father after the violent man murdered his mother and brother, always looked up to John Dutton as a father figure. But it was unclear whether the feeling was reciprocal. Things changed after Rip’s heroics in saving Beth, and the letter Beth shows him makes it clear that the feeling is mutual. That house is now his. The unexpected validation of Dutton considering Rip a son, approval Rip has hoped for his whole life, strips away that tough as nails exterior and leaves him in tears of joy, in a most touching scene.
Kayce returns to Yellowstone, and soon he and John Dutton are forced to enlist the wounded Rip to charge in on horseback and draw fire from the militia. Rip agrees in a heartbeat. After Rip’s horse is blessed by the gunman sent by Rainwater, soon Rip and his horse are dodging gunfire, and John Dutton, Kayce and a coterie of lawmen take out the shooters one by one as they storm the compound, killing everything that moves. They don’t find Tate, but John Dutton finds Beck Brother #2 trying to sneak away. A gunfight leaves Malcolm shot up and groaning from a gut shot. “Scream till whatever makes you want to hurt a child to hurt me leaves you,” Dutton says to his adversary, who finally tells Dutton about another militia camp, the one where his grandson is being held. Dutton means to keep his promise to take Beck to a hospital, but the kidnapper says he would rather die alone. “I…I…wish we never met,” Beck says as he bleeds out. “Yeah, I bet you do,” Dutton said.
Soon, Dutton is leading a charge into another militia compound. One shootout and several dead white supremacists later, they find Tate in a bathtub, severely traumatized, his head shaved. He screams wildly until he recognizes his father.
Here is an interview on the finale I did today with Taylor Sheridan, who created the series with John Linson and who wrote the episode with Eric Beck.
DEADLINE: The finale was a beautiful, violent meditation on fathers and sons and mortality, mixed with the rough frontier justice showdowns of old westerns and movies you’ve written like Wind River and Sicario. The Yellowstone seems like the most beautiful place on the planet, but why does it always seem like such a burden on the people who own it, all of whom have such a fatalistic view about its future that they don’t seem to enjoy it?
SHERIDAN: If you look at the history of the west, or the world, this duality exists. I think Gretel Ehrlich said it best in a book she wrote, where she talks about that moment when you own land. With ownership comes a moment where you stop walking the land and you are patrolling it. We refer to a man’s house as his castle. That nature of kingdom and morality exists. If you’re a king, your morality is only tethered to your kingdom, it’s not really morality. It’s protecting and preserving the thing that you own. And you’re going to be defined by whether thing thing survives, or doesn’t. To me, some variation exists in everyone’s life and it’s how you mitigate that that determines who you are. Of course, the more you have to manage, and protect, the more people are going to try and take it from you. And the more your strength of character and your own morality and sense of self are going to be tested.
That’s one thing but another is something I said very early in Season One. What you’re watching is the slow death of a family. As the family’s true leader, John Dutton’s wife died prematurely. It’s a real look at how all these people are sitting there trying to figure out how to exist without that void. And like a feudal kingdom in the Middle Ages, they’re warring with each other until a greater threat shows up. Then they band together to fight that threat and then they go to war with each other again.
DEADLINE: The finale starts out with the most touching flashback moment between Costner’s John Dutton and his dying father, whom he takes out of a deathbed, and puts on horseback for a sip of whisky and some reminiscing on a ridge overlooking Yellowstone. Why did you fix on Dabney Coleman for that?
SHERIDAN: When that happened, I’d written it but I believe I was prepping a movie in New Mexico and I think he reached out and said he would be really interested in doing something. I had worked with Dabney many, many years ago, almost 20 years ago, as one of the young pups. He’s a Texas guy and was such a gifted, giving actor and I was really struck by how good he was, and how kind he was, to this kid who was guest starring on his deal. Its funny; I’ve employed a lot of people who were good to me when I was a young actor. Buck Taylor was in the first thing I ever did. I put him in Yellowstone. There’s something about that show that lends itself to hiring friends and family.
DEADLINE: Because you can. If you remember people who did you a good turn when they were up and you were not, that’s laudable.
SHERIDAN: Yeah, but I’ve been in this game awhile now and you just want to work with who you want to work with. I’ve found a crew that really gels with me and the guest directors we’ve brought in and it has become a big family. That’s the thing about TV that’s different from films. A film crew and cast never really has time to become a family, whereas in a TV series where you’re working together for years, you’re watching peoples kids grow up. It really does become family. And when you’re making a show about a family, with this family, it resonates. There has been many times we’ve been on set, like, I had a crew member come up to me and he was crying, and said, I had that conversation with my dad. It’s moving stuff.
DEADLINE: Not long ago, Kelly Reilly’s Beth brought Danny Huston’s Dan Jenkins character to that cowboy bar when he was trying to sleep with her, and he proceeded to get beat up by one tough cowboy after another. The Duttons, Rip, Kayce, these are such hard men in a hard world. How would you describe these guys, and the need to never back down. Is that how it is where you grew up in ranch country?
SHERIDAN: Yes. There’s a certain self reliance that comes with living far away from an urban center. If you live on a big ranch in the middle of nowhere, there’s no calling the police. You’re calling a neighbor. You can call the police, but they’re 45 minutes away and by the time they show up, whatever problem you had is resolved in some capacity. Likewise a heart attack or a house fire. You’re relying on friends and your family because the infrastructure doesn’t exist for you to rely on the services that you have to rely on in a big city. Also, there’s a certain frontier justice that exists to a degree. But then again, I’m also really trying to maintain a lot of the rules of the old west, and the old westerns, in this modern day scenario. And make them feel plausible but there is a certain stylized element to these characters that harken back to early John Ford films, and Zane Grey novels. It’s a fantasy; the image of the west created by them doesn’t really exist, but if you look at some of the characters who for better or worse did forge the west, what fascinating outlaws a lot of them were. And great men. Whether it’s Wyatt Earp, or Charles Goodnight, these are fascinating, flawed dreamers who lived by a real code. Whether you disagree with that code or not, the code is very interesting and to get a chance to explore that over a really long format and play with that a bit.
You know, the toughest person on that show is Beth (Kelly Reilly). There’s no question of that. I look at Monica (Kelsey Asbille) and Beth as the two strongest characters in the series. And the most self-aware, the most resilient if you look at what both of them have faced and overcome. When you have that, you get a chance for instance, to have Rip (Cole Hauser) be vulnerable and care about something. In Wind River, the simple format for that character that Jeremy Renner played was, I wanted to take a man with no name and make him cry and I wanted to take a man of few words and put him in a situation where he’s got to use a lot of words. And watch him struggle through those things. A lot of the same rules apply here, you get to take people and put them in situations that will test and tax their characters the most. And then let’s see how the heck they get out of it.
Plot wise…I mean, this is kind of a plotless show. It’s basically, I own a bunch of stinkin’ land and a bunch of people want to take it, which has happened since whoever came up with the notion of ownership 8000 or 12,000 years ago. You could drop this show in Spain, in Eastern Europe or Northern Africa. Anywhere, and someone is experiencing a similar circumstance to some degree. It’s I have this, people want it and I have to fight to keep it. That’s the plot. The rest is purely exploring the relationship between characters and a lifestyle and also having a lot of fun peeking at the real world of modern day cowboys. Because absolutely nobody but modern day cowboys knows what that is. It has never been done right, so I have a lot of fun showcasing that world the way it is, with their horses, with their gear, the way they talk, the way they make their living.,
DEADLINE: When you spoke about the toughest characters on the show, you didn’t mention Jamie (Wes Bentley). He killed a reporter this season, after giving her an interview that might have ended John Dutton and his hold over Yellowstone. His sister Beth detests him. He’s no Gary Cooper. Is he the Fredo Corleone of the Dutton clan, or will we see there is more to him?
SHERIDAN: Season Three really explores these relationships. In Season One, you’re building the world and giving it a trajectory and in Season Two, you are paving that road. Once we all know what that road is, I’ll give a Game of Thrones example. Once we understand all the players and what they want, then we understand the threat that’s really coming and the hero we think is coming, well now we can slow the world way down and look at what makes these people tick and keep putting them in situations that will show their true colors. I promise you next season, there are people on this show who are 100% not what they seem to be. And there are a few people who are exactly what you think they are but don’t believe they could actually be that. And it’s about figuring out who’s who.
DEADLINE: One of your actors who just grabbed the screen from the beginning is Cole Hauser. I remember him in Dazed and Confused, making his way among a crop of young actors but not really breaking through. He has filled out, matured and is totally redefined as this throwback who looks like he should have been on Bonanza or Gunsmoke for 20 years back in the day. When he walked in the door as you were trying to cast Rip Wheeler, this tortured man of steel, what did you see in Hauser and what you needed for that character? He’s endlessly interesting to watch.
SHERIDAN: He sure is and know this: I knew that’s who I wanted, from the beginning. He didn’t audition. I wanted him from day one. There were some things he had done that I saw, where there was an intensity and a clarity of what that character wanted. There is no subtext with the guy and that’s what I really liked. Because Rip has no subtext. You never wonder how he feels about you. And so I knew I wanted him from day one. It took a little convincing to get him on board but…we had some fortunate decisions made in casting and he was certainly one of them.
DEADLINE: What from his past performances stood out?
SHERIDAN: There were a few. One day I went to see a movie, I can’t remember what it was, but it was sold out. But you’re already at the theater, so by god you’re going to see a movie. The movie I saw instead was Pitch Black, which is this sci-fi thing. It’s very cool as a sci-fi horror deal, but I just remember thinking that Cole was in a different movie. Nobody told him it was a cool sci-fi movie. And then Tears of the Sun, which he did with Antoine Fuqua, again there was this loyalty he showed, which is a hard thing to express as an actor…how do you express loyalty? But he did it, even when he disagreed with the choices Bruce Willis’ character made, you could still feel it. I know it’s wrong but I’m doing it anyway. Nothing sums up Rip more than that. Those stuck with me and there’s a Midwestern ruggedness to him where you immediately identify that, this is someone you don’t want to mess with. And with Rip, that needs to be clear from the outset.
DEADLINE: His character was pretty tortured this year. We watched a flashback and learned that his father knocked Rip unconscious, and then killed his mother and brother and by the time Rip came to, he cracked his father’s skull with a cast iron skillet and killed the abuser but not until his family was gone. He was the boss of the ranchers until John Dutton gave that job to his son Kayce. It seemed like John Dutton didn’t really see Rip, until a few episodes ago when Rip saved Beth’s life and killed her attackers. Why didn’t he see Rip until then?
SHERIDAN: I don’t know that he was ignoring Rip. The way I look at it is, he’s really trying to preserve his family’s legacy and he’s trying to take this prodigal son who’d forsaken him, and teach him how to be a leader. In order to do that, you have to remove the leader. It was a tremendous sacrifice for him to ask of Rip, and Rip did it. And sort of earned himself a place in the family as a result. And so I just thought those notions of testing loyalty…traditionally the way that goes in the movies or a TV show is, someone gets tested like that, and they betray them. I didn’t want that. I wanted to see that loyalty stay constant, because that’s something I’ve never seen done. That’s why I did it and I thought it was beautiful and redemptive and what John gives Rip at the end, that bond you start to learn about. And you have Beth, who wields her sexuality like a weapon, but it’s all sort of a ruse because she’s always been in love with Rip. It’s this beautiful, sad romance that has played itself out since they were kids.
DEADLINE: Damaged kids.
SHERIDAN: Oh yeah, and you will learn in Season Three just how damaged. So to me, that’s really beautiful and fascinating to explore.
DEADLINE: Kevin Costner is so right as the patriarch of the Dutton clan, but he’s also a fairly accomplished director in his own right. Is it in the cards where you might give that young guy a shot behind the camera for an episode?
SHERIDAN: [Laughs]. He’s always welcome to have it. I don’t know that…it’s a hard hat to wear, given the pace of television and where it really gets difficult is we lean on Kevin so hard in keeping him in front of the camera. I think it would be asking a lot of him especially in the post schedule, to do both. But he’s welcome to and nothing would make me happier.
DEADLINE: It’s evident from the other Paramount Network show you launched, The Last Cowboy, and the Yellowstone episodes you appear in that you really know your way around horses. You must be pretty exacting with your cast when they get on horseback. Which of your stars took to riding fastest, and which struggled the most?
SHERIDAN: I put them all through pretty rigorous riding. Ironically, the person who gets to ride the least, Kelly Reilly, is the best rider. She grew up riding. Jimmy (Jefferson White) grew up in New York and pretty much had never seen a horse, and I put him on one in an arena and I remember, we had him out there two or three days in a row…horseback riding is all about trust between horse and rider. If at any point that animal doesn’t want you on its back or doesn’t want to go there, you’re not on its back and it’s not going there. It really is an ask, and okay proposition. And it takes a lot of trust for someone who has never been on a horse to get on one. And the horse can feel that fear so it was pretty dicey for a bit. To his credit, the second day I had him out there, just riding, never complaining. And when he got off, he said, I’ll fix this, I promise. He had these saddle sores he never told anyone about, and he’d bled through his jeans and all over the saddle. I was like, buddy, don’t worry about the saddle, but get a little moleskin and cover that thing up so you don’t rub your whole ass off.
DEADLINE: Danny Huston’s real estate developer character Dan Jenkins was like most of us people would be, too soft to be part of that world. He has a very interesting demise where he tries to prove himself and kills two of his attackers, but then he leaves himself exposed and is killed by a third attacker he never considered might be there. Assess his character if you would, and did he signify something more far reaching, about outsiders who come in to exploit a hard world they know nothing about, at least not really?
SHERIDAN: You hit the nail on the head. In essence, here is a guy who got between people who have literally been fighting for what they’ve gotten, for their entire lives. His fights had always been by proxy. Abusing, bending or manipulating the law. Having someone else fight for him. Now, he’s in a place, the world of Yellowstone, you will reach a point where these people will actually just fight themselves. It becomes a zero sum game and you’re the zero. That’s where he ended up. It does say something metaphorically about the interloper who comes in, and the possible consequences of that. It plays with that notion, for sure.
DEADLINE: Kayce, Luke Grimes’ character, he often seems emotionally lost. His son has been taken though, and we see him as a calm, stone killer. Describe his mental state as we end Season Two and where he might go?
SHERIDAN: Here’s somebody who’s lost because he is not fulfilling his destiny. He’s pulled by his notion of family and his attempt to build his own life and forging his destiny, to accepting the one that has been laid out for him. That’s his big conflict and will continue to be so. I see him as someone who has found himself on the path he was born to be on, and settling and accepting it. Whether or not he continues to, we’ll see down the road. That certainly is the case when we end Season Two.
DEADLINE: If he had it to decide, what would be his destiny? To be a great soldier?
SHERIDAN: If I told you, I’d be spoiling the whole thing. You’ll realize, soon enough.
DEADLINE: His wife Monica spent all this season trying to resist the lure of Yellowstone. And yet in this episode, she tells Kayce before he heads off to recover their son who is kidnapped by the Beck Brothers, that after he frees their son, to kill the men who took him. It’s a surprising comment, because she was the most pure, innocent character in the show. Has she been corrupted?
SHERIDAN: I don’t think so. If someone takes your child, we’ve crossed that line where we are in zero sum game land. We’re going to get the kid back and make sure the child is never taken again. What she suggests is the most guaranteed way to do that. I don’t see it as compromising her morality in this world. Because this is not a world where you can call someone to show up and make it okay. Because no one is coming. If you want it to be okay, you’ve got to make it okay, yourself. If there’s such a thing as okay, here. It may seem a little nihilistic, but it’s not. I’ve always said, the further you get away from the law, the more you live by the laws of nature. And how do men and women live by those laws? Well, this is how.
DEADLINE: Thomas Rainwater, the chief who wants to use casino proceeds to seize Dutton’s ranch land, I recall speaking to you and feeling you bristle because in the pilot, I thought he was an opportunist. But he is honorable and cares about his people. He and John Dutton find common ground in getting back John Dutton’s grandson, who is half Native American. He steps up here and he and by the end of tonight’s finale, he and John Dutton are bonded in the blood that has been spilled. Can you give a tease on how this affects their rivalry going forward?
SHERIDAN: Here’s the thing. They’re great enemies, only in the fact that they both want the same thing. Literally, the same piece of land for very different reasons. You have to respect both of them for their positions. Rainwater’s position is the simplest and morally purest of the show. Get this, it was taken from us and look at the consequences to the people who held it, once it was taken from them. He 100% should try to get it back. And John Dutton should 100% try and keep it. And so they’re going to continue to fight.
DEADLINE: John Dutton, Thomas Rainwater and Dan Jenkins put aside their differences to unite against the Beck Brothers, who want Yellowstone and are so ruthless they don’t think twice about kidnapping Dutton’s grandson and hiding him among a militia of white supremacists Neal McDonough and Terry Serpico play these guys with gusto. Well, at least through most of the episode. Where did you get the inspiration for such unrepentant sociopathic bullies? Was there a template from the westerns you watched growing up?
SHERIDAN: They are inspired by two actual brothers.
DEADLINE: Which ones?
SHERIDAN: That I can’t say, but they were inspired by two actual brothers.
DEADLINE: Going back way into the past?
SHERIDAN: No, you don’t have to go back too far, and that’s why I’m not saying anymore. I don’t need them showing up at my house.
DEADLINE: The moment when Kayce shoots Teal Beck on the toilet, and asks why he didn’t think the Duttons would fight back, and he blubbers that nobody ever fought back, what a great line. Neal McDonough, he is a religious guy in real life, but why does he make such a fabulous villain?
SHERIDAN: I don’t know. It’s the great thing about acting, you get to explore worlds, feelings and things you would never care to explore in your own lives. He’s a good guy, a great dad, a really sweet guy. The character he plays is absolutely nothing like him, whatsoever. Which is really interesting.
DEADLINE: You are much in demand as a screenwriter and a film director, after Wind River, Hell Or High Water and Sicario. How are you making all this work? The commitment to making this series seems all consuming. And you’re already well into shooting Season Three, so you don’t give yourself much down time.
SHERIDAN: No, I was shooting nights on this movie with Angelina…
DEADLINE: You mean the drama you wrote to direct, Those Who Wish Me Dead, with Angelina Jolie…
SHERIDAN: Yes. I would wake up 2:00 in the afternoon on Saturday, and write an episode of Yellowstone, turn it in and go right back to bed. And then show up to work on the movie. I guess I’ll sleep when I’m dead, because I’m not sleeping much now.
DEADLINE: Is it too much to imagine that the guy who realized while playing a role in Sons Of Anarchy that he’d never do better than fifth on the call sheet after 20 years and it would only get worse, and so he pushed all that away to write Sicario and Hell Or High Water is just making up for lost time?
SHERIDAN: Well, a couple things. I was 13th on the call sheet, and was never going to be higher. And 100%, I had my own family and my own tiny kingdom that I’m trying to build and preserve for them, and at some point I’m going to get too tired to work at this pace, or people are going to get tired of these stories. And they’re going to want someone else who tells different stories, and I’m going to be trying to get in that center square on Hollywood Squares. There reaches a point to where you run out of gas. I’m not there yet. I’m having too much fun doing this, but I’m aware there are only so many stories you have to tell, and only so many people who want you to tell them.
DEADLINE: One last one and maybe you tipped it talking about Kelly Reilly play Beth. Is there a character in particular who you most enjoy writing dialogue for?
SHERIDAN: Yeah. Writing for Kelly as Beth is maybe the favorite character I’ve ever written for. I never have any idea what she’s going to say. She’s a blast. I like writing for all of them. Kevin is so interesting and I love writing moments of levity for him. Because he has such a sideways sense of humor and it all comes out of an earnest place. He has such a relatable sense of humor. With Kelly, you can truly say anything with Beth Dutton. With a character who just simply doesn’t care about the consequences or the reaction to her words, she just refuses to be weak. That cavalier, she’s the freest character I’ve ever written. She will do or say whatever the hell she wants. It allows you to put her in some fascinating situations.
DEADLINE: You resolved a lot in tonight’s finale, and you made the two toughest men in Montana cry. That would be Hauser’s Rip Wheeler and Costner’s John Dutton, after his grandson is saved. In seems that had the same effect on viewers. Bravo.
SHERIDAN: Thank you very much. There were a lot of people who told me this was a ridiculous idea for a TV show, and that nobody would want to watch it. It’s gratifying to see there’s an appetite.
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