Latest ‘Yellowstone’ News: Josh Lucas explains the impact of playing young John Dutton as Helen Mirren shares what motivates ‘1923’s Cara Dutton

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Happy Wednesday, Yellowstone fans; we hope you’re enjoying the lead-up to the holiday season and the knowledge that with the holiday comes a Yellowstone marathon on Paramount! That’s right, if you’re dreaming of spending Christmas with the Dutton family — you’re in luck. As we joyfully look forward to time spent with loved ones and the magic of the holidays, we’re also looking at the Yellowstone universe with gratitude for the multitude of gifts it gives viewers with each new episode and storyline. Josh Lucas is grateful for Sheridan’s ever-expanding universe too, and he re entry shares more about what it means to play a young John Dutton in Yellowstone. Dame Helen Mirren also shares more about her character in 1923 and what drives her to push ahead against all odds. There’s a lot to enjoy in the Dutton family saga today, and you know what to do from here: grab your Yellowstone-loving bestie and your drink of choice, and let’s ride in. 

Josh Lucas talks playing a young John Dutton

Yellowstone fans first fell in love with John Dutton as we met him in season one, played by Kevin Costner and carrying around a heavy weight that could surely make his shoulders buckle. The thing about John Dutton is, he knows that they won’t. Of course, Taylor Sheridan is writing a singular, linear story, so when we met a young John Dutton, played by Josh Lucas, he had to hold that same understanding.

Over the years, we’ve seen Lucas in flashbacks as a strong, stoic man who knows life could change at a moment’s notice, sending everything he knows crashing down around him. In a chat with GQ, Lucas shares that when he first spoke with Sheridan about playing young John Dutton in flashbacks, he drew inspiration from others who have played similar roles. He had to make the character his own while staying true to what was being crafted for him in another timeline.

“When he said, ‘We’re going to do these flashbacks,’ I immediately thought of — and it’s too heightened of a reference —but the whole idea that [Robert] De Niro didn’t try to play or look like [Marlon] Brando in Godfather II. So I said to Taylor, ‘I don’t look that much like him, but who cares?’ I was thrilled to go do a scene and ride horses and just get to be there for a minute. But, what was interesting, I hadn’t seen the show, so, when he texted me earlier this year and said, ‘You’re coming back for season 5,’ he didn’t say, ‘I told you,’ but I remember thinking, ‘Like you told me!’ And I was totally excited to go do it for many reasons — the success of the show being a part of it — but also, I was like, ‘I’ll sit down and study the show now, particularly what Kevin’s doing.’ And I got bit, man. I would have to force myself to go to bed. And I started to feel a little bit of, I don’t want to say fear, but I was like, ‘Oh, f***, this is a huge responsibility and you got to get it right.’”

Lucas also had questions for Sheridan about which emotions John would be feeling as he navigates his life, and one response from Sheridan left Lucas laughing. Was Sheridan talking about the character he created, Lucas wondered, or was he talking about himself?

“He said one thing. I was like, ‘Is he lonely?’ He said, ‘He’s too f***ing 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 f*** 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 f***ing 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.”

The truth is, both John and Taylor probably feel lonely from time to time, or it’s likely that they feel the pressure of the weight that they carry, but they’re strong enough to keep shouldering it anyway, and Lucas certainly relates to that idea too.

Helen Mirren on Cara Dutton’s motivation in 1923 (and how it relates to her personally)

Helen Mirren is Cara Dutton in 1923, the newest Yellowstone prequel series, and her character is someone most of us would hope to say we can relate to. Maybe not in the sense that everything seems to be life or death for the Duttons, but because of her passion and conviction as a woman. While there are differences between Cara and Helen, there are also similarities.

Speaking to US Weekly, Mirren says that Sheridan is the type of writer who crafts the character to the performer he has in mind for the role. It’s not that these ultra-talented entertainment icons are learning how to become someone in the Yellowstone realm; it’s as if Sheridan is crafting the domain around them.

“Taylor Sheridan likes to write for the actor and the personality of the actor who will play the role. Cara is very much — as Jacob is constructed around Harrison Ford and Harrison’s personal qualities — Cara is constructed around me.”

That idea makes sense, and it’s further proven by the fact that Taylor Sheridan has spoken several times about scouting for Yellowstone’s cast before he even had a script to give them. He wants who he wants, knows who would breathe life into these characters with authenticity, and believes in himself, too.

Mirren also talked more about Cara Dutton, and what drives her as a woman; if it’s not been evident to you yet, it will be. Mirren holds Cara’s faith in high regard as the source of her strength. That being said, it doesn’t make Cara naive to what’s happening around her, and Mirren made sure to bring both sides of that equation to the series.

“She’s a Christian — a Catholic — and I think she has carried that faith with her. She doesn’t advertise it, it’s not a big thing. I wanted to have a little crucifix up on the set, but I said, ‘It’s gotta be really small.’ … If you don’t notice it, it’s fine, but it’s just a little indication of where Cara’s faith is. So, I do think she’s a woman of faith, but at the same time she’s practical, she’s down-to-earth, and she’s realistic.”

What we’ve seen so far of Cara is pure strength and passion; she loves her family, she cares for them when they can’t seem to figure out how to care for themselves, and it’s clear that there’s nothing more important to her than the longevity of what they’ve worked so hard for — love, togetherness, and their place in this world.

Josh Lucas on the pull of working with Taylor Sheridan

Lucas shared more about becoming part of the Dutton realm as he continued his chat with GQ, and he says that he felt a pull to Yellowstone for several reasons, one of which was working with the legendary Taylor Sheridan. Lucas had a lot of respect for him, both having been in the business for years and working their way through the ups and downs that come along with that.

“We were both actors who’ve been in this business for a long time, struggled in the highs and lows. I saw him as a contemporary, but I didn’t see him as such an authentic cowboy that — to use an obvious metaphor — would grab the reins of his career the way he did. I knew Sicario and Hell or High Water [which he wrote], and then, when I saw Wind River, I was like, ‘Oh, this guy’s an extraordinary talent.’ I read Yellowstone, and not many times in my career have I felt such a sense of, ‘I really want to work for this guy and be around him.’”

Wanting to work with Sheridan was undoubtedly something important to Lucas, and though he might have initially wanted to play the role of John Dutton’s son, we can’t see him as anything but a young John Dutton now. He plays the character with such passion and integrity that it feels like the character was written for him specifically. It takes a remarkable man to make John Dutton a man who is both adored and feared, and Kevin Costner and Josh Lucas do it with an exquisite sense of talent.