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    "Yellowstone" Is One Of The Biggest TV Shows Right Now, So Here Are 27 Facts Every Fan Needs To Know

    The scenes at the Dutton family's ranch in Yellowstone are filmed on location at a real ranch in Montana.

    There are some major spoilers for Yellowstone Seasons 1 through 3 ahead!

    1. First, creator Taylor Sheridan and Kevin Costner actually met before Taylor wrote Yellowstone. He just had the idea in his head. Then, he wrote the pilot, immediately sent it to Kevin, and he was in.

    Paramount

    "I'd been a fan of Kevin's work my whole life," Taylor said. "Just a chance to sit down with someone you've admired was a great honor. I was really hungry to find something to do with him and I had the idea for this show. I wrote the pilot and I sent it to him." 

    2. At first, Yellowstone was only going to be a 10-episode limited series, similar to Hatfields & McCoys. The show continuing really hinged on Kevin Costner agreeing to do Season 1 and then signing on for more seasons.

    Paramount

    "The show got put together and it was no longer going to be [only 10 episodes] and a lot of it had been put together because of me and agreeing that I would do it," Kevin explained. "I had to make a real fundamental decision. I thought actually that if I had said, 'Well, now I'm not doing it,' maybe it might've crumbled before it got started."

    3. Originally, Yellowstone was going to be on HBO. In fact, Taylor Sheridan wrote two scripts before he was told that HBO didn't want to move forward with it.

    Jamie saying, "She's gonna tear this family apart"
    Paramount

    "I sat with the senior vice president of HBO, who told me that they weren’t going to go forward with it," Taylor recalled. "When I asked why, he said, 'Nobody wants to see this.'"

    4. Now, Yellowstone has gone on to be one of the biggest cable TV shows with nearly 14.7 million people tuning in during the Season 4 two-episode premiere in 2021.

    John covered in blood lying on the ground
    Paramount

    The 14.7 million figure is up "58% compared to Yellowstone's Season 3 premiere" in 2020. The massive jump in viewership is contributed to the series streaming on Peacock and people catching up during a nearly yearlong wait between seasons.

    5. When Kelly Reilly first got the Yellowstone script before auditioning for Beth, she called it "the best pilot" she's ever read.

    Beth telling a stranger at a bar "I'm hunting too, just not hunting you"
    Paramount

    Kelly said she was "floored" by Taylor Sheridan's writing from the minute she read the Yellowstone pilot. "Every single line of hers in that first pilot I read, I couldn't believe what I was reading," Kelly recalled. "I have the same reaction that the audience has when she comes out with some of the things she says."

    6. Cole Hauser didn't audition for the role of Rip. In fact, he was who Taylor Sheridan wanted for the role from day one.

    Paramount

    Before Yellowstone, Cole starred in numerous movies, such as Dazed and Confused, Tigerland, and Good Will Hunting. Speaking about casting Cole, Taylor said, "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."

    7. Taylor Sheridan wrote the character of Chief Thomas Rainwater with Gil Birmingham in mind. Gil previously appeared in Taylor's movies Hell or High Water and Wind River.

    Paramount

    Taylor wrote both Gil's roles in Wind River and Yellowstone with him in mind. "He's a very fierce actor. He's really talented," Taylor said. "I called him before I wrote [Yellowstone]. Like, 'Gil, I’ve got a role that’s right for you, buddy. I hope you come do this thing with me.' And he said yes. And I was grateful."

    8. All of the ranch scenes, including the interiors of the Duttons' lodge, are filmed at Chief Joseph Ranch in Darby, Montana.

    Exterior shorts of the lodge and Dutton family property
    Paramount

    The lodge is a combination of modern renovations and historic aspects that have been part of the ranch for years. The house was built from 1914 to 1917 and all of the original logs and stones seen inside were taken from the property itself. And yes, you can actually take a trip and stay at Chief Joseph Ranch.

    9. The little bit of set decorating Yellowstone does inside the Dutton family lodge actually stays up all year long, even when they aren't filming.

    Close-ups of the inside living room of the Dutton lodge
    Paramount

    New couches, drapes, and chairs have been added to the lodge by the show, as well as some family heirlooms. This gives the lodge a feeling of it being modernized for present day, but also feeling like the Duttons have lived there for generations.

    10. Up until Season 4, about "70–75%" of production took place in Utah; however, due to limited tax incentive programs, the series is now filmed solely in Montana.

    Paramount

    Ahead of Season 4, the production "secured a 40,000-square-foot space on over 100 acres in Missoula, Montana." Since the buildings weren't built to house a large-scale TV production, soundstages had to be created that included adding insulation to soundproof some of the sets.

    11. Before production began on Season 1, six or seven of the actors went on a "pack trip" together for four nights, during which they were taught how to be cowboys.

    Paramount

    Horse trainer Jake Ream — who also appears onscreen as Jake, a wrangler at the Dutton ranch — recalled that Taylor Sheridan asked him to take some of the cast on the trip so they could learn what it's like to be cowboys, work on a ranch, be around horses, and more. They actually spent the trip on some property that Jake's grandfather owns.

    12. The entire cast had to go through "rigorous [horse] riding" training too. Ironically, Kelly Reilly, who plays Beth, is "the best rider" but anyone who watches the show knows she rides the least.

    Beth crying and riding a horse
    Paramount

    "Jefferson White grew up in New York and pretty much had never seen a horse, and I put him on one in an arena," Taylor Sheridan recalled. "I remember, we had him out there two or three days in a row… Horseback riding is all about trust between horse and rider. He had these saddle sores he never told anyone about, and he'd bled through his jeans and all over the saddle."

    13. Most of the time, the actors are doing their own horse riding and roping stunts, which helps give Yellowstone an authentic feel.

    Paramount

    "[Taylor's] invested into the actors. They are riding. They are doing the stunts. When Cole [Hauser] ropes those guys, he is swinging the rope, riding fast, and doing a lot of that stuff," explained Jake Ream.

    14. For Jimmy's rodeo scenes in Season 3, it's a combination of Jefferson White's stunt double riding a horse and Jefferson on a mechanical horse for close-up shots.

    Jimmy on a bucking horse
    Paramount

    "[We] try to put the actors in the situations as much as possible," stunt coordinator Jason Rodriguez explained. A lot of times, camera angles and precise cuts are used so that the scene ends up being comprised of half stunt double work and half the actors.

    15. During Season 1, Kevin Costner was paid $500,000 per episode, a price that Paramount was willing to pay in order to show that the network meant business.

    Paramount

    At the time, Paramount was rebranding from Spike TV and it wanted to attract "top-tier actors" to its projects. According to Paramount Network chief Kevin Kay, he said Kevin's salary "sends a message." Of course, the gamble worked out. Yellowstone is one of the biggest TV shows and there are already two spinoffs in the works.

    16. Yellowstone films each season like a movie in order to give the series a cinematic feeling. In fact, the goal from the start was to make the show feel like "a very long movie that they showed on television."

    Paramount

    Taylor explained that the show's aspect ratio and the camera lenses used are all intentionally picked so that Yellowstone feels like a movie rather than a TV series. Taylor even wrote Season 1 without "act breaks or teasers" so the scripts were basically styled like a movie script. 

    17. Gator, who is the Duttons' chef, is played by Gabriel "Gator" Guilbeau. He actually runs craft services — which is the department that supplies food, drinks, and snacks to the cast and crew — on Yellowstone.

    John saying, "Gator, what the fuck is that?" and Gator saying it's grilled octopus
    Paramount

    Gator began cooking for film and TV sets right after he graduated high school in Louisiana. On set, he makes a ton of barbecue but he loves making Cajun food. Gator's first acting experience was when he appeared in the hilarious grilled octopus scene on Yellowstone. Gator's dad actually did craft services on movies for 27 years too.

    18. Out of all the characters on Yellowstone, Taylor Sheridan considers Beth Dutton "the toughest," and her and Monica "the most resilient."

    Paramount

    Taylor explained, "You know, the toughest person on that show is Beth. There’s no question of that. I look at Monica 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."

    19. In fact, Taylor Sheridan's favorite character to write is Beth Dutton because he loves how you never know what she's going to say and she's so unpredictable.

    Beth saying, "You are the trailer park. I am the tornado."
    Paramount

    "With Kelly [Reilly], you can truly say anything with Beth Dutton," Taylor began. "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."

    20. Kevin Costner's band Kevin Costner & Modern West has written several songs that are featured on Yellowstone. And in 2020, they released the album Tales From Yellowstone.

    John telling Kayce, "You're my son. I know exactly who you are and don't you ever be sorry for it."
    Paramount

    Tales From Yellowstone is a collection of songs that are written from the perspective of Kevin's character John Dutton. The lead single "Won’t Stop Loving You" is about the loss of John's wife. Speaking about that song, Kevin said, "This man is about the land. And when you share the land with your partner, every place you ever go, you see her on it. He’s a man going forward but you never forget that moment; it’s immovable."

    21. When it came to designing the cowboys' bunkhouse, set decorator Carla Curry sat down with Forrie J. Smith, who plays Lloyd, and asked for his thoughts since he lived that lifestyle for years.

    The cowboys hanging out in the bunkhouse
    Paramount

    "When I had to dress this, I actually sat down with him and we talked about just a few of the little details," Carla said.

    22. In fact, Lloyd's bunk on the show is filled with Forrie J. Smith's personal items from his time at a rodeo and working on a ranch.

    Close-ups of Forrie's rodeo pictures in his bunk
    Paramount / Via youtu.be

    Carla Curry explained, "If you look in his bed in there, you can see a lot of his personal details that I ended up adding. You can see the details in it."

    23. Before booking the role of Roarke Morris in Season 3, Josh Holloway considered Yellowstone his "favorite show on TV."

    Paramount

    "It's fun to play a villain," Josh explained. "This was my favorite show on TV before I booked this."

    24. Creator Taylor Sheridan can actually be seen on the show as Travis Wheatly, a horse trader and one of John Dutton's acquaintances.

    Paramount

    In real life, Taylor owns horses and has competed in western horse riding competitions. He also grew up on a ranch in Texas. A lot of the horses featured on Yellowstone are from Taylor, too.

    25. After the Season 3 finale, which featured most of the Duttons possibly dying, the cast didn't know who would be returning for Season 4.

    John and Beth both covered in blood
    Paramount

    Kelly remembered going to Taylor Sheridan right away and asking if Beth would survive the explosion at her office. "When I got the script for the explosion, of course, I asked [Taylor] the question: 'Is she going to make it? Are you trying to tell me something?'" Kelly said. "I think every actor thinks they're going to get fired. Everybody always thinks it's their last shot at it and they'll never work again. But, no, everyone was very honest from the get-go, saying, 'No, no, no. Taylor just wanted everyone to think that they all died. He wanted that cliffhanger moment.'"

    26. The family dynamics of the show have led to cast and crew members dealing with their own family issues IRL. In fact, one crew member came up to Taylor Sheridan crying and said he finally had a conversation with his dad because of the show.

    Paramount

    "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 people's kids grow up. It really does become family," Taylor said. "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."

    27. And finally, Taylor Sheridan said all of the storylines in every season so far have been about watching "the slow death of a family," and the wild Season 2 finale was really when that idea came to a head.

    John telling Beth, "I know who loves me. I know who is loyal. I always have."
    Paramount

    "What you’re watching is the slow death of a family," Taylor said. "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."