Harrison Ford as Jacob Dutton in '1923' episode 2
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Harrison Ford's Best Western Roles Prove He's a Dutton at Heart

He was a cowboy long before '1923'.

Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan continues to land incredible stars for the hit show's multiple spinoff series. First, he expanded his Dutton family saga with 1883, a prequel series starring country stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill plus the incomparable Sam Elliott. Now he's outdone himself by casting Hollywood legends Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren for 1923, Paramount+'s next chapter in the Dutton timeline.

A real-life rancher, Ford plays John Dutton's (Kevin Costner) uncle, Yellowstone ranch patriarch Jacob Dutton. Mirren portrays his wife, Cara. It also stars 24's James Badge Dale as John Dutton Sr. and Westworld's Brandon Sklenar as World War I veteran Spencer Dutton. In 1923, the predecessors of the Duttons in Yellowstone face prohibition, Montana's depression and other historic events— which sets up for hours of intriguing television. Season 2 is already in the works.

Beyond his career-defining and myth-building roles in George Lucas' Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, Ford shined in box office-hit dramas (cable TV fixture Witness, the critically-acclaimed Apocalypse Now and the comedic Sabrina), action movies (As Jack Ryan in Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games), science fiction benchmarks (Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, as the anti-hero Rick Deckard) and an interpretation of the classic book Call of the Wild. He's even got a featured role in one of Disney's forthcoming Captain America films. But did you know that he's been in a handful of westerns across his illustrious career?

Some of Ford's earliest work was set in the Old West, riding horses and chasing outlaws. Sometimes he even played an outlaw surlier than Han Solo himself. Based on these roles, it's safe to say that the Hollywood legend was a cowboy long before signing on to play a Dutton.

The Virginian (1967)

Harrison Ford in a cowboy hat in an episode of 'The Virginian'

Screengrab via YouTube

It's hard to even imagine a time before Ford was a massive movie star, but everyone has to get their start somewhere. A 25-year-old Ford made his television debut as a credited actor in the popular western series The Virginian, starring James Drury as the foreman of the Shiloh Ranch. He was in two episodes, credited as Young Rancher / Cullen Tindall. Undoubtedly this debut helped Ford land a few more of the western gigs on this list.

A Time for Killing (1967)

American actor Harrison Ford on the set of A Time for Killing based on the novel by Nelson Wolford and Shirley Wolford, and directed by Phil Karlson.

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While his appearances on The Virginian were Ford's first TV roles, A Time for Killing was his first credited film role, proving that he's been a cowboy from the start. The movie stars Glenn Ford (no relation) in a story of Confederate POWs escaping a prison for the Mexican border with Union soldiers on their tails. Ford played the role of Union soldier Lt. Shaffer who helps chase down the escaped soldiers. The kicker? Neither group realizes that the war has actually ended. What a dramatic debut in the film world.

Journey to Shiloh (1968)

Harrison Ford in a cowboy hat in a scene from 'Journey to Shiloh'

Screengrab via YouTube

One of Ford's earliest film credits was this western co-starring James Caan. He starred as Willie Bill Bearden in the story of seven young Texans traveling to fight in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. They meet some perilous challenges along the trail until they eventually make it to Shiloh, Tenn. Who doesn't love a rag-tag group banding together on a crazy road trip? Young Ford is almost unrecognizable here with his long hair.

Gunsmoke (1972- '73)

Harrison Ford in a scene from 'Gunsmoke'

Screengrab via YouTube

Were you even a grizzled actor in the '60s/'70s if you didn't land a role on one of the longest-running TV shows of all time— not to mention the launching pad for Burt Reynolds' career? Ford appeared on two episodes of Gunsmoke in 1972 and 1973 as the characters Print and Hobey. He got to play a villain, which is fun to see before he takes center stage as one of Hollywood's top leading men a few years down the line. Did you ever think you'd get to see Luke Skywalker's ally get brought down by Marshal Matt Dillon?

Dynasty (1976)

Harrison Ford wearing a tie in a scene from 'Dynasty'

Screengrab via YouTube

This made-for-TV movie was based on the true story of a family of pioneers seeking their fortune out on the Ohio frontier. Ford leads the film as one of the family's sons, Mark Blackwood, who deals with a series of complicated family dynamics throughout the film. We've got a family working to maintain their riches to hit it big while dealing with a slew of family drama. If that doesn't sound like Yellowstone, I don't know what does. The movie got some mixed reviews, with some feeling like a stacked cast was wasted on a weak story, but the main point is that Ford's post-American Graffiti, pre-Star Wars acting was predictably on point.

The Frisco Kid (1979)

American actors Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford on the set of The Frisco Kid directed by Robert Aldrich.

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Ford, the late character actor Vincent Schiavelli and comic genius Gene Wilder star in this campy '70s western about a Polish rabbi befriending a bank robber on the road to San Francisco. Talk about a long-lost credit from Ford's incredibly lengthy filmography. The role of the robber Tommy Lillard, played by Ford, was originally meant for John Wayne, as The Duke was looking for some light comedy after playing Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. But salary disagreements led to the casting of up-and-comer Ford instead, who had recently shined in his breakout role as Han Solo in 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope. This was a role that showed that Ford had the physical skills to lead a western — riding horses and fighting off outlaws right and left. Since 1923 will have cattle thieves threatening the Dutton ranch, those horse-riding skills will definitely come in handy.

Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11: Actors Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde and Harrison Ford attend the 'Cowboys and Aliens' UK film premiere at the 02 Arena on August 11, 2011 in London, England. (

Ian Gavan/Getty Images

It's half western, half sci-fi and easily the biggest-budgeted project on this list. Based on a graphic novel, Ford plays the role of the ruthless cattle baron Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde, who works alongside an outlaw (Daniel Craig) and a mysterious woman (Olivia Wilde) to defeat an alien ship that is threatening their existence. It's definitely not your typical western, but we see a different side of Ford as the gruff rich man, stooping to the level of an outlaw to do the right thing and help save the day. There are horses, gunfights and all of the essential elements you need in a good western. More importantly, it shows that Ford ages like a fine wine. He still has the stamina to ride horses in the West with the best of them which is an energy we know we'll get to see in the Yellowstone multiverse. Plus, it's a better movie than cynics might suspect if they've written it off because of its bizarre title and synopsis.

This story previously ran on June 22, 2022.

READ MORE: 'Yellowstone' Prequel '1923' Star Harrison Ford is a Real Life Hero and Rancher