‘Yellowstone’s Taylor Sheridan On Safely Shooting Season 4 In A Pandemic, Emmy Momentum & The Benefit Of Having Kevin Costner As Your Series Anchor – The Deadline Q&A

EXCLUSIVE: Taylor Sheridan had to push back an hour on his Deadline Emmy nomination week interview, e-mailing simply, “I gotta move cows.” Sheridan is the real thing, owner of a working cattle ranch in Weatherford, Texas, and co-creator with John Linson, writer of every episode and director of most in the Paramount Network and 101 Studios series Yellowstone. The drama stars Kevin Costner as the well-worn Montana-based ranch patriarch John Dutton, who clings to the largest ranch in the country as desperadoes, bankers, real estate speculators and Native American activists try to wrest it from his tight grip.

Led by Dutton’s children, played by Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly and Wes Bentley, and Cole Hauser, Kelly Asbille, Danny Huston and Gil Birmingham, the show took some dark turns in Season 2 as the Duttons battled the Beck Brothers (Neal McDonough & Terry Serpico), two land-grabbing siblings so ruthless they hired neo-Nazi mercenaries to kill Beth Dutton (Hauser’s Rip Wheeler ended that threat convincingly in a clip you can watch below) and kidnap Dutton’s grandson Tate (Brecken Merrill). The undercurrent of violence has always been part of the show, but last season’s climax evoked contemporary Westerns showdowns like No Country For Old Men and Sheridan’s script Hell or High Water.

In the clip above, Dutton settles up for good with Malcolm Beck (McDonough). Dutton’s problems are hardly over; hanging onto the ranch is a burden, and there is a touching flashback scene in which he promises his dying father (Dabney Coleman) he’ll never let go of the family legacy.

Here, Sheridan explains why he thinks the ratings are growing exponentially by the week, how Yellowstone will soon shoot Season 4 around the pandemic, and whether his modern-day Western will become a fixture for decades like Gunsmoke and Bonanza or run its course sooner. Sheridan’s success has created opportunities for him: he still writes each episode, but only gave up the directing reins last season because he helmed Those Who Wish Me Dead, a film he scripted that stars Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult and Jon Bernthal, latter of whom was in Sheridan’s directorial debut Wind River.

Its third season is underway and the drama is putting up the highest primetime rating numbers on television this summer, even after a move to Sundays. Yellowstone has also begun to find its way on Emmy lists for contention for Costner and the stellar cast around him.

Sheridan has signed to create and oversee more shows for Paramount Network and 101 Studios. It is a remarkable mogul turn considering that Sheridan hadn’t written anything until he considered his lot as a supporting actor shooting his umpteenth series in Sons of Anarchy, and contemplated raising his family in a small Los Angeles apartment with work sure to get more scarce as he got older. He quit abruptly and began writing, and the result was the acclaimed spare survival tales Hell or High Water, the Sicario films and Wind River, as Sheridan showed a knack for doing in screenplay form what Cormac McCarthy does in novels.

DEADLINE: So, how difficult is it for one to move cows?

TAYLOR SHERIDAN: It’s not that different than maybe moving 49-year-olds that don’t want to go where you want to go, except you’re on a horse. These cows are good, they know the drill. We’re going to go over here because there’s better grass, and then we’re going to go over there because that grass isn’t good anymore. So, it’s no big thing. It just has to be done.

Taylor Sheridan CBS Films

DEADLINE: Safe to say you are in Texas, then, and not in L.A.?

SHERIDAN: Yeah. That’s where I am. There’s not a lot of cattle to move in L.A., I don’t think.

DEADLINE: Also a roomier place to hole up during a pandemic. When will you start shooting Season 4?

SHERIDAN: We’re supposed to start mid-August, and we’re putting that together as best we can. I’m fortunate that this show shoots on a ranch in Montana. We’re going to shoot exclusively there this year, or in and around it. So we’ve got the crew and the cast up there, and it’s in an area of the state that has no active cases now. As long as we’re very careful to not bring any in…so once we’re there, we’ll be very cautious about how we move. The best thing we can do for the community is limit our interaction with them, really, for now. And everyone will just stay there for the duration. I’ve spoken with the governor extensively about how to mitigate this. He was very fair and also very aware that L.A. is a hot spot, and that’s where a fair amount of our crew and most of our cast lives.

So he said, hey, look, bring them in, quarantine them for two weeks, test them when they get here, test them when they leave, and just ask them to stay on your set or at their home until that time. And keep a program of very rigid testing as you’re going.

DEADLINE: Seems reasonable…

SHERIDAN: Which is what we’ll do. It’s not unlike…all of the unions have been wracking their brains with what is the best protocol, as has every movie studio. And with my studio, we’re talking about a big corporation in Viacom that has a lot of different companies that could put their heads together and figure out the best thing. I think that under the circumstances, we have come up with a way that will allow us to go back to filming and be as efficient as we can. What you don’t want to do is limit scope as far as the filmmaking or the teleplay. No one’s going to care in a year when Season 4 comes out that we were shooting under stressful situations, if the camerawork and the scope of the show and the quality of the product isn’t what it has been up to this point. Finding a marriage of both, I think that we’ve come up with a good plan. I’ve spent a lot of time talking with my friend Tyler Perry, who is in a similar situation in that he’s starting up very soon. He, fortunately for him, has his own studio. I don’t.

DEADLINE: Yet.

SHERIDAN: So, he sent me some video the other day where he’s building housing on his lot where the cast and crew and everyone can stay right there, with a restaurant and everything. We’re both debating the pros and cons of building a cantina and anything else we can do to get through this.

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DEADLINE: For all those I’ve spoken with trying to be among the first back into production, the plan is anyone who takes part plays by strict rules. Nobody leaves, and if somebody sneaks out to go to a bar, they’re fired and replaced. Insurance is impossible and if your lead actor gets coronavirus, everything shuts for half a month or more. Disastrous. You thinking about it this way?

SHERIDAN: Yeah. Unfortunately, you have to have that zero-tolerance policy, and you have to articulate it to the cast and crew properly from the very beginning, and you have to let them know, look, you may think it’s draconian of us to say you can’t go anywhere, but it’s reckless of you to go somewhere because if you get this…granted, you may be healthy and you may not even know you have it, but you could give it to someone who will have a completely different reaction to it. Yes, one terrible thing could be that the show shuts down for a period of time. A worse thing would be that someone gets really, really sick, and a worse thing than that is someone dies. And so you have to be cognizant of that. We also, as a production company, have to understand that going somewhere for five months and only seeing your hotel room and the set is a terrible working condition, right?

DEADLINE: It doesn’t sound fun.

SHERIDAN: And again, I benefit from the fact that I have hundreds of acres at my disposal at a ranch, where we’re talking about having a restaurant there. And some form of entertainment on set every single day. You can get every meal there. We’re building an outdoor gym. We’re doing everything we can to try and make it as pleasant as it can be under these circumstances. And when we start, I don’t think it’s going to change. I don’t think that somewhere in the middle of Season 4, these restrictions are going to be something we can loosen. I think that possibly by the late spring of 2021, you can look at not having to break your set down into zones, and you know we’ll be testing essential elements every other day. That’ll basically be your interior zone, which is the set, and you have a zone surrounding that and a zone surrounding that, and there’s testing going on for those individuals as well. And then you’re only allowed to be in the zone you’re allowed to be in, and then you have the challenge of bringing in guest-star actors or day-playing camera operators. You can ask someone to self-quarantine at your location, but can you vet that? There’s a lot of challenges. It will, for sure, magnify the expense of every TV production.

DEADLINE: By how much?

SHERIDAN: I’m going to guess 20 percent when it’s all said and done. That’s what I anticipate. For shows that are really successful, the networks are willing to incur that expense. For some of those shows on the bubble that we’ve already seen canceled this year, I doubt they would’ve been canceled had it been a normal year. As they factor in the expense of having an EMT for every department instead of just one on the set, having sanitation teams, all these different things. All those people have to be housed and fed, and paid. So, it’s going to be an interesting challenge. As if this job wasn’t hard enough, it just got harder.

DEADLINE: Before everything shuttered in March, when had you planned to shoot Season 4?

SHERIDAN: The plan was to start in June. The plan’s been to start in June every single year, to be honest with you. And every year, something happens and we can’t start until August. The one benefit of this year, I had written most of Season 4, and then I stopped at episode seven to figure out when we’re actually starting, because I have to factor in weather. I have to know if we’re going to be there in November and December, because if we are, I have to write snow into the story line. Because there’ll be a foot of it on the ground. So, I had to pause on writing the last few episodes, which I’ll start up here pretty soon once I know we’re going, because I would hate to write them and then find out that we can only shoot six episodes this year, and then I have to go shoot in the spring, and then there’s no snow. There are so many things most people don’t realize. When they’re sitting at home, watching TV, they’re wondering well, why did this happen, and that? Well, a lot of times, it was triaging a situation that came up that has nothing to do with story. I’m trying to avoid that circumstance here.

DEADLINE: Do you find that there is maybe a little more urgency and power in what you write when the pressure is on and you’ll have to shoot those scenes shortly after you write them?

SHERIDAN: No, at this point, I’m able to flip the switch. If I have to turn out an episode that they need to see tomorrow, I can do it. If I want to write one that’s going to take place next year, I’ll do that, too. I don’t need a ticking time bomb behind me.

DEADLINE: How must that feel? Conditioned to deadlines, I couldn’t write a grocery list unless I had a gun to my head. You wrote every episode of Season 2, which culminated in that tense showdown with the Beck Brothers that was startling and showed the grit of Dutton kids Kayce, the former soldier unfazed by having to kill especially when his son was kidnapped, Beth, who fought off murderous thugs until Rip Wheeler killed them. And John Dutton, who gave a frontier justice ending to the remaining land-grabbing Dutton brother. You were planning a movie while all this was going on. What was the big challenge there?

SHERIDAN: I was going to do this movie in the spring. They wanted to start in the spring on Season 3, and I just couldn’t do it. I had to go do a movie. It didn’t fit with the timeline. I said go with god, do what you have to. We tried to build a [writers] room. I was tech scouting this film I just finished with Angie, and I got the scripts, and they were not happy. I read them…and the challenge to this world is…it’s not a terribly difficult plot. But if you didn’t grow up with cowboys and in this world, and you don’t know this world, it’s a really hard world to write because you’re going to fall back on the clichés of that world. People tune in to the show for varying reasons, but the authenticity of the show is its bedrock. From the saddles that are used, from the kind of horses that we use, to the situations that I place them in that if you don’t spend your afternoons moving cattle, you don’t know those situations exist. This is not an indictment of the talent of the writers; it’s just they were writing about something they know absolutely nothing about. So [the studio] said, what can you do? And I said, push until August and I’ll write them, but they couldn’t because there are scheduling conflicts with other people on the show.

DEADLINE: How was it resolved?

SHERIDAN: I said I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll write you an episode a week. You know I shoot nights on Friday. I get in Saturday, about 7 in the morning, I’ll sleep until about 2 or 3, and I’ll write until it’s done, and I sent them scripts every Sunday until the dang thing was finished.

DEADLINE: Amazing you can turn it on that way, considering you only began writing scripts when you realized acting wasn’t the long-term answer for you. How surprising was it to yourself, that you could dial it up and be a prolific multi-tasker who switched gears from a movie to the series?

SHERIDAN: Well, here’s the thing about TV. I’m not the only person to have written all the episodes of a series. When you know the characters so well, the real question is what is the situation you’re going to drop them into? How are you going to test them, test their strength and their morality? So, it isn’t a question of how they would react to those things, because after writing 20 episodes and directing all of Season 1 and big chunks of Season 2, I know these characters and the actors know I know them. It was just a question of, what do I want them to face? And strangely, directing prepares you. Because a director is basically a crisis manager with a camera. That is really all you are. You show up, you have all these plans, and by the time that you set up for the first shot, all those plans are out the window, for varying reasons. Weather, or you’re losing the location six hours sooner than you thought you would, or an actor’s stuck in traffic, an actor’s sick, a camera goes down. Any number of different things are going to alter exactly what you do. I’ve never had a day as a director go the way I intended it to go, and so when you sit down to write a story, you have a blank page. There’s no outer conflict that’s going to arise, and it’s the freest I can be as an artist. So, they were actually great breaks from the rigors of directing.

DEADLINE: Your show has turned into a ratings juggernaut, rising each season, and each episode above shows on better-known networks. Why are viewers sparking to this? Is it the same reason they watched Westerns that stayed on networks for decades?

SHERIDAN: I think it’s a few different things. I know people in L.A. that are fanatics for the show who do not fit the demographic of who you think would watch the show. Obviously, Kevin has a big draw, but as the show started, I really pushed them to market this [differently]. I said, look, if we’re going to make a show about space travel, then we want to market to astronauts. We want astronauts walking around, telling everybody this is the best show about space travel you can find. I said, we have to treat this the same way. I’m writing it for cowboys because if I make it authentic and believable to them, everyone else will believe the premise, as well, market it the same way, go to horse shows, go to rodeos, go to state fairs and put up banners there.

DEADLINE: How did they feel about that?

SHERIDAN: They thought it was ridiculous, but they did it. You know they just thought it was nuts. They said, there’s not 5,000 people at these things. I said I know, but there’s 500 of them every weekend, put them in all of them. No one’s ever paid any attention to these people. No one’s ever given them a show. It’s a show for everybody, but at the same time, it’s highlighting a lifestyle and a way of life that most people don’t live, but those who do, they don’t have a show about it. If I want to watch a show about what it’s like to grow up in the mob in New York, I have a lot of options, right?

DEADLINE: You do.

SHERIDAN: But if you grew up on a ranch in Nebraska or a small town in Indiana, you don’t have a show about that. So, it worked. I think that the look of the show makes it feel very different from television. We shoot it like a movie. We let the landscape be a character in it. I think it’s extremely well-acted, and I think that it’s just pulp fiction-y enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. You know some of these characters played differently would seem very cartoon-ish. The character of Beth, if she’s not understated and committed, it could be a lot of different things than it is. Same with Rip, same with Kevin’s character. Their approach and their skill and craft, I think it’s a combination of all of these things that give a good product. I also think there’s an appetite for this…a lot of shows these days are dealing with issues that we’re dealing with every day, and so it doesn’t necessarily feel like a break from your day. But aside from the few people in Montana with some inheritance tax issues and bad neighbors, most people are not experiencing what’s on the show, and so it becomes a true escape.

DEADLINE: Have you given much thought as to how many seasons you might take Yellowstone?

SHERIDAN: Well, I know how it ends. I know how the series ends, and you have to move in a straight line toward that end. You can’t walk in circles, waiting to get there, because the show will stagnate. So, you have to keep moving forward, and there have to be consequences in the world, and there has to be an evolution toward a conclusion. Can that be another two seasons beyond this? It could. I don’t see this as a procedural show. So, it’s not something that we could extend indefinitely. I don’t think anyone would want to do that; you’d cheapen the product. I haven’t had that conversation with the network or the studio yet. I’m sure it’s coming, but I would think that you would want this to end on an upswing as opposed to a plateau or a descent.

DEADLINE: Six seasons, then. One of your most effective weapons writing these shows is how you broaden mythology through the use of flashback. In this new season, we learn why Beth so loathes her brother Jamie, and it is stunning and unexpected. Beth’s hard-won love affair with Rip makes more sense when you see the origins of these two broken people who together make a whole. Talk a moment about using this device but not overdoing it to the point you are going sideways instead of moving forward to that series conclusion you mentioned. It’s one of my favorite parts of the show.

SHERIDAN: And mine, too, and yet you have to be sparing with it or it becomes an additional storyline in a different timeline, and then we start playing connect the dots. When it’s not that; these moments that we’re seeing in the past are pivotal in each character’s present. It has shaped who they are. Another way to do it is just have a monologue explaining the same thing, but it doesn’t have the impact of witnessing it. It’s always more powerful to see it and feel the history of that family, and as I continue to employ it and will continue to do so, I think that it’s a great way for an audience to truly understand how this family came to be. In a different way, it’s not unlike, watching Don Corleone come over to New York at the turn of the century, interspersed with watching Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone fully embrace the power of his family.

DEADLINE: Coppola and Mario Puzo used that device perfectly throughout The Godfather: Part II.

SHERIDAN: You get to not only learn about young Don Corleone, you also get to learn about turn-of-the-century New York, and the dawn of the mafia, and it’s a fascinating way to tell a story. Very unconventional and very rarely done on television because it’s expensive.

DEADLINE: Beyond the growing ratings, the show has begun to be touted for Emmys. You had me hooked from the pilot, and it has been fun to watch all of your lead actors grow in their characters, through some terrific dialogue and dramatic scenes. It has been a somewhat undiscovered gem in awards season. How does that feel?

SHERIDAN: Well, I think that whenever you’re dealing with awards in our industry, there are certainly lanes you can go down that fall into categories that get attention by people who give awards. At face value, a Western about a millionaire cattle rancher doesn’t seem to fall into the category of art that is trying to have an impactful effect on an audience, even though I feel it obviously is, or I wouldn’t do it. It’s also a challenge for a network that doesn’t have experience in the way that you go about approaching these things, because even presenting a show as awards-worthy show is its own art. There’s a reason that you see a lot of the same [shows]. I don’t know anything about the Emmys. I really have to talk about this from an Oscars standpoint. Putting it in movie terms, you see the same players every year as far as the producers and the studios. It’s because, number one, they obviously have excellent taste, and number two, they know how to play that game, and it is a game. I have played that game, so I’m aware of it, and the game is, get someone to watch your movie. How do I get these Academy members to watch the movie?

I assume the game is the same in the Emmys, even though I don’t even know how that’s quantified, but I would assume that with the volume of television out there to go watch, most Emmy voters probably don’t even know it’s on the air.

DEADLINE: There seems to be 400 series on endless networks and platforms, it seems, and it was simpler when there were three or four. If the voters do watch, all that character development culminated in a great moment of reckoning between the Duttons and the Beck Brothers that was right out of the O.K. Corral. Great villains, and you told me previously they were based on some people who are real and are still around. What did you most relish about unleashing those two guys who were like villains out of a Sergio Leone movie?

SHERIDAN: Well, if you think about it, we watched John Dutton fight a war against somebody who doesn’t break the rules. He just bends them. And he picked a fight with someone who makes the rules, which means he can unmake them, and he’s fighting for survival, and he doesn’t factor rules into those fights. So, when he comes up against two brothers that have an identical approach, which is, we don’t follow the rules, we don’t have rules, then I think that he has met his match, and I don’t think that he knew initially that they were as dangerous as they ultimately proved to be. But once he realized it, then he confronted it.

DEADLINE: It also fleshed out the character of the Dutton clan, from Kayce tapping into his killing ways, to Rip’s protection of Beth, to Kayce’s Native American wife Monica and a thirst for vengeance. What were the highlights for you in testing these characters that way?

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SHERIDAN: Thematically, it’s interesting. Granted, this show came out last year, but some of what you’re seeing now is there. You are seeing today a nation that has no common enemy and so it’s looking inside for one and finding plenty. I always built the Dutton family…I imagined it kind of like these feudal kingdoms in the Middle Ages that warred with each other a little until they had a greater enemy and pulled together and then warded off the greater enemy, and that’s really what happened [in Season 2]. If you look at the beginning of that season, the family’s completely fractured. And not just the family but the relationships that family members have outside the family. They’re all destroyed, and it is the threat of the Becks that pulls them all back together. Strangely, that pressure is what brings Monica [Kayce’s wife] back. It brings Jamie [Bentley] back. It brings the family together to go fight this thing.

But at the beginning of Season 2, there was not a relationship, including Rip, that was not in jeopardy of complete collapse, and so that’s what I wanted to watch them do. I wanted to watch this family that had completely fractured pull together to fight this common enemy, and then the question becomes, well, what happens now?

DEADLINE: Even Dutton’s rival, Chief Thomas Rainwater, put aside his desire to bring control of Yellowstone back to the Native Americans who once occupied it, to face the common threat of the Becks. You chose to start the currently airing season with a respite from the intensity and danger, by focusing on Dutton helping Tate heal from his ordeal at the hands of those neo-Nazis by camping with his grandfather in the vast spaces of the ranch, with a frontier setting all around them. Until you introduced a hedge fund threat now trying to seize Yellowstone through eminent domain. John Dutton is probably in a better position than he’s ever been in. His children live with him along with the grandson he was forbidden by son Kayce from seeing, back when the series launched. What parts of the current season most excited the writer in you?

SHERIDAN: It is the mending, which feels really earned, and so I think for an audience, they get to share in a bit of the catharsis that the characters face and get to share. I wanted to…I don’t want to give away too much, but I wanted to watch that. I try to do things differently in my storytelling, and so I wanted to watch some relationships fully form that in any other TV show or movie, they would form only to be destroyed as opposed to forming into something that makes them stronger than they were apart. We’d spent a few seasons watching them fight for this way of life, so I wanted to spend a few episodes that gave the audience a chance to watch what it is they’re fighting for. And trying to make everybody fall in love with it just a little.

DEADLINE: But not too long, obviously. Aside from these frontier vistas, you have Kevin Costner as your patriarch. What advantage and challenge does having an Oscar-winning movie star, who is aging exceptionally well, give you?

SHERIDAN: What you have to be careful of with an actor of that caliber is…one school of thought would be, the more Kevin on the screen, the better. But I want it to feel special. Whenever John Dutton is present, I want the moment to feel special. I want it to feel important. I don’t care to watch him brush his teeth. I don’t need that man to be ordinary for me. I need him to be human, but not ordinary, and I don’t ever want it to become ordinary to see Kevin Costner on television. I want it to feel remarkable. Even though this is obviously a story of his world through his lens, I want you to know the whole world so that you can see the impact that his character has on all of them. But you have to be shrewd, and very careful with that sports car. You don’t want to drive it all the time. Because then it’s just…a car, you know? If you ever get in a Ferrari and you forget you just got in a Ferrari, you might as well not have a Ferrari. I try to make the moments that I write for him feel worthy of an Oscar winner, and I don’t ever want to put him in an unimportant situation. John Dutton doesn’t move plot. He alters the plot, and so I try to be very reverent with the situations that I put that character in.

DEADLINE: A bit like how Michael Mann didn’t put his Heat stars Al Pacino and Robert De Niro together until that coffee shop scene well into the film, as opposed putting them in a lot of scenes together at the risk of homogenizing what came off as a special moment.

SHERIDAN: 100 percent. Otherwise, you’ve diluted it.

DEADLINE: You came up as a series actor, and then started writing these movie thrillers Hell or High Water, Sicario, its sequel Soldado, and Wind River, latter of which you directed. You’ve brought a sense of authorship to this show by writing all the episodes and directing many. What do you prefer: telling a story in a two-hour compressed time period, or doing it slowly over what you have said will likely be six seasons?

SHERIDAN: They’re both special for different reasons. With a film, you’re exploring for two hours an event that a character’s going to have to overcome. What you’re exploring in a longer form, and what’s so attractive to so many filmmakers who are moving to it, is [in series] you’re exploring a world and characters’ journey through it, and plot. Not that anything that I do is very plot-heavy anyway, but plot’s really out the window. Here it is: I got this [ranch], others want it, and people are going to try and take it, and that lets me spider web off in a lot of different ways. One thing with television, you can open doors in a script that you don’t close for episodes or seasons. Things just happen that have nothing to do with storytelling. An actor gets sick or quits or has a conflict…lose that actor, that’s devastating if you’re in the middle of production on a film. In a TV show, I can pivot, and no one will notice. You can hide your mistakes, and let me tell you something; name me five perfect films, and we can go sit with the filmmaker, and they will tell you the things they did in the edit to fix the disaster.

Because, you may end up with a fantastic film, but no one makes one. You go out and you overcome mistakes, and you realize things. The shortcomings of the script, or you realize that the scene that you’re filming right now is unnecessary. In a movie, you have a lot less room for error in the edit bay to correct that. So, there’s a certain pressure off you as a storyteller in TV. Films are much more merciless. That said, a film stands alone as this piece of art that I think is very timeless in a way. People, they do revisit shows and binge on them, but it’s a different thing. So, I enjoy the long form of television, but there is something special about making a quality film that’s going to be relevant years from now. As far as filming them, I don’t approach filming Yellowstone any differently than I approached filming Wind River. I just have a lot more toys. I don’t approach it any differently than the movie I just completed. I treat it exactly the same.

DEADLINE: The other thing about television is that characters who initially are minor become more because you’ve gotten a really good actor. Has that happened with Yellowstone in a way that surprised you?

SHERIDAN: I wouldn’t say that it surprised me, but Lloyd is an example…

DEADLINE: He’s the grizzled senior member of the ranch who mentors the ranch hands and sometimes does the dirty work when certain employees exit who know too much and whose loose lips could imperil the ranch…

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SHERIDAN: Lloyd’s a cowboy. Forrie Smith, who plays him, is a cowboy I met wrangling, and I was trying to find places to put cowboys in actor roles so that I could have characters actually running around doing some of this relatively dangerous cowboy stuff. He turned out to be a very pleasant surprise that I’ve leaned on fairly heavily in the story. Jake Ream, another cowboy who plays Jake in the bunkhouse, is this Utah cowboy who had never seen a camera. He didn’t know what action meant. He didn’t know what cut meant. He’s been a very pleasant surprise. You can watch two actors interact on set or off set and guide into that story line. Like Colby, played by Denim Richards, and Ryan, played by Ian Bohen. I never meant for them to be best friends that are always poking fun at each other. But that’s what they are in real life, and so it just bled its way into the story.

DEADLINE: That’s all I got. Was that easier than moving cows?

SHERIDAN: Well, I am always grateful for the appreciation I find out there, but you and I have danced a little bit over the past few years. And my idea of self-promoting is not talking. I like to let the work do the talking and people can love it or they can turn it off and complain about it. It’s, you know, I’m fine either way.

DEADLINE: I still find it remarkable to see all this, that came out of an actor 13th on the call sheet looking in the mirror in his two-bedroom L.A. apartment, with a child crying in the background, and having the courage to find another way to tell stories. It is so hard for fully formed people to change, you know?

SHERIDAN: Well, thank you. It’s not that hard when you run out of things to lose. The challenge is success. And whatever made you successful, you have to hang onto that and treat everything like that. I treat it all like I got nothing left to lose. If this is the last thing I am ever make, I’m going to make it my way.