Yellowstone Prequel Keeps A+ Casting Game Going By Adding Former James Bond Star In Villainous Role

Chief talking to Cliff on the moon in Doom Patrol
(Image credit: HBO Max)

Everyone with a Paramount+ subscription should be as amped as all get out for December to arrive, as that’s when Yellowstone fans will get to watch the next big prequel chapter in the Duttons’ family history, Taylor Sheridan’s 1923. And while it didn’t seem like any other show within this western universe could possibly eclipse the A+ cast of the flagship, and yet 1923 is doing its damnedest to try. The spinoff is being headed up by Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren, and the growing ensemble has now added another stellar co-star in former James Bond portrayer Timothy Dalton.

While film and TV audiences may be more used to seeing Dalton taking on protagonist roles, he’s no stranger to playing baddies, and it sounds like the Shakespearean stage actor won’t be playing the most heartwarming and life-affirming dude in 1923. According to Deadline, he’ll take on the role of Donald Whitfield, who is described as exuding wealth and power, with an ego to match. What he doesn’t boast much of, however, is a healthy amount of empathy, which has played a big part in how he’s amassed his fortunes. 

Whitfield is also noted as being a nefarious person, who uses intimidation and manipulation to make sure he gets everything he desires. Which just goes to show you how thin a line there is between heroes and villains in Taylor Sheridan’s stories, since that all basically describes Kevin Costner’s John Dutton and Kelly Reilly’s Beth, and we can’t get enough of that pair! So maybe I’m just reading into this all backwards, and Whitfield will actually be BFFs with Harrison Ford’s Jacob Dutton and James Badge Dale’s John Dutton Sr.

This newest installment in the burgeoning neo-western franchise is set 40 years after Tim McGraw and Faith Hill gave us James and Margaret Dutton in 1883, with Harrison Ford playing the latter’s brother as he carries the family torch. (Presumably the lone connection character will be Spencer, portrayed by Brandon Sklenar as an adult.) As just about anyone reading this knows, the 1920s were a rough period for plenty of reasons, especially for those fighting for land in Montana, from financial struggles to health emergencies to a lack of water. Bringing the Duttons' dysfunctions and Dalton’s Donald Whitfield into the mix only adds to the complications.  

1923 has been on a casting announcement tear as the production has continued. Most recently, fans have learned that Game of Thrones vet Jerome Flynn signed on to play the leader of local sheep men, with Terminator 2 legend Robert Patrick cast as the local sheriff, who no doubt has to cover up tons of bloody Dutton secrets during his tenure. Even with all the new family members being introduced, there’s still a whole town to populate, so I hope these casting announcements continue. 

It’s almost surprising to hear that Timothy Dalton was roped into the Yellowstone-verse for the upcoming project, since he’s basically limited his career to one project at a time for many years now. Prior to his work in HBO Max’s wonderfully wild Doom Patrol, the actor enjoyed a series regular role in Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, so he certainly does seem attracted to darker material on the small screen. That said, he also offered up some voicework for Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure in 2019-20, and has maintained his Toy Story role of Mr. Pricklepants across the shorts and the fourth film. So it’s not all doom (patrol) and gloom (patrol).  

1923 is set to make its debut on Paramount+ in December, presumably coinciding with the midseason finale for Yellowstone Season 5, which recently dropped its first big trailer. As it went with 1883, fans can look forward to spending the holidays with the Duttons of yore, but head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see everything else hitting the small screen in the coming months. 

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.