Skip to main content

How One Yellowstone Star Helped Turn The Bunkhouse Into One Of The Show's Best Settings

lloyd, ryan and other ranch hands in the bunkhouse on yellowstone season 3
(Image credit: paramount network press)

I'd imagine many Yellowstone fans out there would agree that the Paramount Network drama deserves lots of award-showering recognition, although the TV Academy is a little late on getting that memo. Thankfully, Yellowstone did earn its first Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Production Design For A Narrative Contemporary Program, with kudos going to the team that makes this show look so flipping gorgeous, from the expansive exteriors to the Duttons' pitch-perfect Montana abodes. One of the drama's most memorable settings is definitely the bunkhouse, and it turns out we can partially thank star Forrie J. Smith for cementing its importance within the series.

To talk about Yellowstone's currently lone example of Emmy nomination love, production designer Cary White, set decorator Carly Curry and art director Yvonne Boudreaux all spoke with Deadline about bringing the western series to televised life. And while Curry gave co-creator Taylor Sheridan his due props for knowing how to make the show's cowboy-friendly settings feel as authentic as possible, she then credited the beloved Lloyd actor Forrie J. Smith for adding further details that impressed Sheridan even more. In her words:

We don’t do fake on Yellowstone, and the bunkhouse is everyone’s favorite set. Forrie Smith, who plays Lloyd in our show, he is the real deal, a cowboy who lived that life. When we started putting our details into this, I had a pretty good sense of how cowboys live because I live with one. But talking to Forrie, he was able to give us a lot of little details you wouldn’t think of. Like the bottle of Tylenol by his bed, for his arthritis, the snuff cans that are all over the place, the Louis L’Amour paperbacks. When Taylor walked in for the first time, he was kind of blown away. He only had a few scenes written for that, but once he saw what was there, he brought it. He said, ‘I definitely need more scenes in the bunkhouse.’

Carly Curry's husband is someone who is also well-tuned with ranch life, as the couple own a ranch themselves, but it obviously never hurts to have another professional step up and offer their own expertise. In this case, Forrie J. Smith had ideas for the smaller details that would make the bunkhouse feel more lived in, and less like a set. So in a sense, he basically pinpointed some of the ways in which the ranch hands would more or less junk up the place with their personal supplies, whether it be medicine bottles or snuff cans or dog-eared western novels. One could probably also expect to see some hole-worn socks, boot shine, and at least one form of erotica scattered about.

One would assume there was a sizeable sense of pride that came along with adding the kinds of set details that made Yellowstone's co-creator and brainchild Taylor Sheridan even more eager to film within a certain setting or location. Especially since it was something he'd already had a hand in designing the bare bones of himself. That's the kind of praise I'd put on my refrigerator.

While not all of Yellowstone's cast members are intimately familiar with the cowboy life, star Kevin Costner has certain been in his fair share of western movies and TV shows, even beyond his personal life and interests. And you can bet that Forrie J. Smith isn't the only bunkhouse resident who's so learned in ranch life, though he might well be the oldest. (Still young at heart though, if Lloyd's behavior is any indication.) It'll probably take more extensive research to figure out what those bunkhouses were like back in the 1880s, though, for the upcoming Yellowstone prequel spinoff.

Fans will hopefully be able to revisit the bunkhouse soon for Yellowstone Season 4, which is set to premiere at some point this fall, with new characters joining the action, and new details arriving to clue audiences in on what happened to the Dutton family after those attacks in the Season 3 finale.

Nick Venable

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.