And I’ve tried to glean from Taylor, how is John different at this age? Is he harder? Is he so heartbroken about his wife that he’s cold? There’s elements of John Dutton that are Kevin Costner, but also very much Taylor. One of the cool things with Yellowstone is that Taylor does cowboy camp, which is pretty intense, and I was able to watch him and be like, “I think there’s stuff I want to take from him into John.” And I’m sure Kevin does that, too. But I definitely felt a daunting sense of responsibility. Even though the pieces are brief, they’re seminal, right? I would do the scenes, I’d walk away, and I wouldn’t be like “Yeah, I nailed that!” I’d feel like, “Fuck, I hope I got it.” [Laughs.]
Have you and Kevin ever directly chatted about the character?
No, we never did. I didn’t purposely stay away. We don’t work together, obviously, and I’ve had nothing but the nicest interactions with him. Kevin’s a really nice guy. I don’t know that John Dutton is, but I think Kevin is. [Laughs.] I think, maybe respectfully, he’s just always been like, you do your thing. So, sure, I would love to know that he’s happy with what I’m doing, but I also then have to kind of fall into the mindset of John Dutton, like, I don’t give a fuck.
You mentioned earlier that Taylor said from the beginning that season 5 would be when your role really picked up, but I have to imagine it’s hard to sit at home and bank on that.
I never did. To me, I’ve never gotten any Hollywood sense of Taylor, but that would just be Hollywood talk, and he’s not that guy. But I still didn’t—not that I never thought about it again. I always was like, “I wish I was doing more on that show,” because I genuinely loved making it in the beginning and I had known how successful it was. It took seeing it for me to get even more like, “Wow, that is something that I would really love to be a part of.”
Did you ever ask Taylor what the big difference is between who John is in the period you’re playing him and when Kevin is inhabiting the character?
He said one thing. I was like, “Is he lonely?” He said, “He’s too fucking busy to be lonely!” And the way he said it made me think, “Is he talking about John Dutton or Taylor Sheridan?” [Laughs.] Again, I don’t need to build up the mythology of Taylor, but how the fuck is that guy doing what he’s doing? He is a one-man band. He controls…and I mean control in a good way. An example would be the day I started shooting this season, I heard the director, Christina [Alexandra Voros], call Taylor and be like, “He’s wearing chaps, right?” And Taylor was like, “No, he’s not fucking wearing chaps!” And she was like, “No, no, no, Taylor, I’m not talking about the scene in the governor’s office, I’m talking about on the horse. So he takes them off, correct?” And he’s like, “Yeah!” To me, the fact that he’s dealing with the costumes at that level, on a specific day-to-day basis of what, nine shows now, and that all of it is in his brain, I have nothing but mad respect for it.