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Forrie J. Smith is a Real Cowboy Who Also Plays One on 'Yellowstone'

One of the coolest parts about the Paramount Network's hit series Yellowstone is that creator Taylor Sheridan has worked hard to make the show realistic. Being a modern cowboy is hard work and the show tries to keep their representation of ranch life as authentic as possible. They even hire real cowboys on their set. Forrie J. Smith, who plays the ranch hand Lloyd on the Dutton ranch, is one of those cowboys.

After falling off of a horse as a small child, Forrie Smith told his parents that he wanted to grow up to become a stunt man. Luckily for him, growing up in Helena, Montana was the perfect place for Smith to learn the ropes of the rodeo and master riding horses. Smith started competing in the rodeo when he was just 8 years old, but as he told the Rodeo News, it was the family business. In addition to his father and grandfather being skilled in the rodeo, his mother was a barrel racer. The skill set was in his blood. 

"My granddad rodeoed when they circled the cars and snubbed the horses," recalls Forrie. "I was drawn to it...I was raised in the back seat of a station wagon. My dad was winning checks until he was 52 in the RCA."

After years in the rodeo, Smith spent 25 years as a stuntman in Hollywood. He worked on films like Rambo III and several westerns, including Desperado, Tombstone and Hell or High Water. He credits his many years in the rodeo with preparing him for the jump into working in films.

"I use a lot of the things I learned from rodeo in the film industry - like breaking things down into steps, thinking positive and not being negative. Thinking about what you did wrong and forgetting it; thinking about what you did right and building on it. Hurry up and wait - that's all learned from rodeo."

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Though he's had small bit parts in films and TV shows since 1987, Yellowstone was Smith's first job as a series regular. He was initially a guest star working on John Dutton's (Kevin Costner) family ranch. But, after appearing as a recurring character for the first two seasons, he was brought on as a full-time character in Yellowstone season 3. After working together on the Dutton Ranch, Lloyd has a close relationship with Cole Hauser's character Rip Wheeler, who Lloyd treats like his own son. His real son, Forrest Smith, even played Lloyd in a flashback episode on the show.

Smith told TV Fanatic that it was incredibly special to him that Taylor Sheridan brought the western way of life to the small screen. Despite the fact that modern life has definitely affected how real cowboys operate, it's still important for people to see.

"I give Taylor a big kiss on the cheek for bringing our culture to the forefront and making a great show out of it. It means a lot to me, but it's kind of too late. They've already got the water table sucked down. They've already subdivided a lot of good grazing land. But [Yellowstone] is telling our story. And I'm glad to see that getting out."


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This article was originally published in August of 2020.