From co-creators Taylor Sheridan, writer of such as modern classics as Sicario and Wind River, and Sons of Anarchy producer John Linson, Yellowstone follows the struggles of the well-to-do Dutton family as they struggle to keep their beloved ranch out of anyone else’s hands, especially corporate entities who see their land with dollar signs in their eyes. For the three seasons, the Dallas-esque drama has been the flagship original title of the Paramount Network (which will be changing its name once again very soon) and an essential entry into the Neo-western style of storytelling that Sheridan has become the patron saint for lately.
Of course, it is possible that even the most devout viewer of Yellowstone may not have recognized the majority of its most notable performers prior to their discovery of the series and, while it would be surprising to learn that a fan was previously unaware of the Kevin Costner’s career, stranger things have happened. With that in mind, why don’t we take the time to look back on what the following 12 cast members were up to before settling down at the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch.
Kevin Costner (John Dutton)
Playing a cowboy (and one who is stubborn-as-a-mule, at that) on Yellowstone should make Kevin Costner seem right at home, though somewhat out of time as well. Before becoming John Dutton, he starred in the 1985 western Silverado, 1990’s Civil War era epic Dances with Wolves (for which he also won Oscars as director and producer), a 1994 Wyatt Earp biopic, his third directorial effort Open Range, and the hit History Channel miniseries Hatfields & McCoys.
Of course, Costner is also well-known for his many sports movies, such as Field of Dreams and Tin Cup, infamous apocalyptic thrillers Waterworld and The Postman (the latter of which he directed), and playing the adoptive father of Henry Cavill as Superman.
Kelly Reilly (Beth Dutton)
John Dutton’s daughter Beth is played by Kelly Reilly, to whom an American western was relatively new territory. Yet, the English actress is otherwise well-known for TV dramas as intense as Yellowstone that span continents and time periods, including British crime thriller Above Suspicion, Season 2 of HBO’s True Detective, and fantasy epic Britannia, which is exclusive to Amazon Prime in the United States. Speaking of, her role in the 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice helped her gain a more American following before playing Mary Morstan in 2009’s Sherlock Holmes and its sequel, which saw her marry Jude Law’s John Watson two years later.
Luke Grimes (Kayce Dutton)
Before playing Beth’s brother, Kayce, Luke Grimes was something of a Neo-western veteran, starring in shoot ‘em up thrillers as recent as 2019’s Into the Ashes, Netflix’s more comedic El Camino Christmas in 2017, and (if you’ll count it) Oscar winner American Sniper. He even got a taste of the real Old West in Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnficent Seven remake, but those who were not adept westerns before Yellowstone may also recognize Grimes as Christian Grey’s older brother in the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise or recurring TV roles on Brothers & Sisters and True Blood.
Kelsey Asbille (Monica Dutton)
People who watch Yellowstone for Taylor Sheridan may remember Kayce Dutton’s wife, Monica, in the brief, but hauntingly devastating, role of murder victim Natalie in Wind River. Before then, when 29-year-old actress Kelsey Asbille was still using her given last name “Chow,” she was best known for playing recurring characters on long-running primetime soap One Tree Hill and MTV’s dark series reboot of Teen Wolf and is also credited as “Hot Girl” in her brief appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield.
Wes Bentley (Jamie Dutton)
With his starring role as the Duttons’ adoptive son, Jamie, Wes Bentley can pretty much say he has done any genre you can think of. He broke out as a troubled teen in Oscar-winning dramedy American Beauty, played deeply contrasting villains in Marvel’s Ghost Rider and horror thriller P2, tried out the YA novel movie trend as Seneca Crane in The Hunger Games, and traveled the furthest depths of space with Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar. His best known small screen effort prior to Yellowstone, however, is American Horror Story, on which he appeared in its fourth, fifth, and sixth seasons.
Cole Hauser (Rip Wheeler)
While the Duttons’ close friend and trusted ranch hand, Rip Wheeler, could, arguably, be his best known character to date, Cole Hauser’s career is rich in iconic cinematic favorites. The ‘90s were especially good to the actor, during which he appeared opposite Ben Affleck in both Dazed and Confused and Good Will Hunting and seemed to have the same kinship with Bruce Willis in the 2000s starring alongside the action star in Hart’s Wars, Tears of the Sun, and A Good Day to Die Hard.
As a television star before Yellowstone, Hauser investigated the notorious murder at the center of Lifetime’s The Lizzie Borden Chronicles and would become a main player of the Audience Network drama Rogue after joining the cast in Season 2.
Ryan Bingham (Walker)
Rip finds competition over Beth’s heart in Walker, a former prisoner he hires as a fellow Yellowstone ranch hand played by Ryan Bingham, who might be better known as a Grammy-winning musician than an actor. He did, however, appear in and write an Oscar-winning song for the 2009 drama Crazy Heart from director Scott Cooper, who also enlisted him to pull double-duty again in the Civil War-era western Hostiles, also starring Christian Bale. In addition to showing of his talents on Yellowstone, Bingham’s music has also been used for several films and TV series, including ER, Parenthood, and The Bridge, which used his song “Until I’m One With You” as its main theme.
Brecken Merrill (Tate Dutton)
If the youngest member of the Dutton clan, Kayce and Monica’s son Tate, looks unfamiliar to you, that is probably because Yellowstone is Brecken Merrill’s very first acting credit. It is destined to be the first of many for the 12-year-old as his performance has already him his the lead role in We All Got Up to Dance, an upcoming comedy drama hybrid set in Washington at the height of the Vietnam War that is currently in pre-production.
Gretchen Mol (Evelyn Dutton)
The one Dutton family member who is tragically missing is John’s late wife Evelyn, who has appeared on Yellowstone in flashbacks as portrayed by Gretchen Mol. The accomplished actress’ previously best known character from a western was Alice Evans - Christian Bale’s onscreen wife in the 2010 remake of 3:10 to Yuma. Yet, she is more likely easier to recognize from Manchester by the Sea, a recurring stint on the Golden Globe-winning Mozart in the Jungle, or her starring role on the prohibition era drama Boardwalk Empire for HBO, who also cast her as Bettie Page in its biopic about the 1950s pin-up model.
Jefferson White (Jimmy Hurdstrom)
One of the branded ranch hands employed at Yellowstone is Jimmy Hurdstrom. The character is the first regular role on a TV series for Jefferson White despite his numerous recurring stints and guest spots in well-known small screen hits. He made his acting debut as an unwitting KGB informant on FX’s acclaimed Cold War drama The Americans before playing a supposed child of incest on How to Get Away with Murder, a sadistic kidnapper on Netflix’s House of Cards, and an astronaut seemingly driven insane by cosmic isolation in one story from Jordan Peele’s revamp of The Twilight Zone.
Gil Birmingham (Thomas Rainwater)
Fellow House of Cards veteran Gil Birmingham collaborated with Taylor Sheridan on Hell or High Water and Wind River before playing Broken Rock Reservation Chairman Thomas Rainwater on Yellowstone. The actor, a descendent of the Comanche tribe, had a big role as a 19th-Century Native American in the historical miniseries Into the West and a smaller role as such in the 2013 big screen reboot of The Lone Ranger. However, Birmingham’s most recognizable character to date would probably be as Billy Black, the father of Taylor Lautner’s Jacob, in the Twilight movie series.
Danny Huston (Dan Jenkins)
Speaking of vampires, Danny Huston played the leader of one vicious pack of bloodsuckers holing up for an Alaskan feast in 30 Days of Night and would later play the less savage, but equally sinister, fact-based murderer Axeman in the third season of American Horror Story. Those characters, and plenty more villainous parts (including William Stryker in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Gen. Erich Ludendorf in 2017’s Wonder Woman) may have had a hand in him landing the role of Dan Jenkins, a capital developer who makes enemies with the Duttons over their land in the first two seasons of Yellowstone.
What do you think? Did these 12 talented performers have a better life onscreen before settling down at the Yellowstone ranch, or is the story of the Duttons stand at the peak of their acting careers in your eyes? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on this hit Neo-western series, as well as even more inside looks at the casts of your favorite movies and TV shows, here on CinemaBlend.