Ryan Bingham performs at Old Forester’s Paristown Hall on November 03, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images)

Country Singer Ryan Bingham Plays Mysterious Ranch Hand Walker on 'Yellowstone'

Fans of the hit Paramount series Yellowstone recognize Ryan Bingham for playing Walker, the ex-con ranch hand who fills the bunkhouse at Dutton Ranch with music and a whole lot of drama. Whether he's fighting with Lloyd for romancing the barrel racer Laramie or despising Rip Wheeler for branding him with the Yellowstone symbol for life, he's been a dark and fascinating character to watch. And he's back for more in Yellowstone season 5.

Outside of the series, many music fans already knew the country and Americana singer-songwriter for his critically-acclaimed albums, such as 2007's Mescalito or writing the Oscar winning song "The Weary Kind" for the Jeff Bridges film Crazy Heart. Casting the award-winning songwriter seems fitting for the series since the Yellowstone soundtrack really adds to the entire experience of watching the modern western. Bingham says he landed the role through a chance encounter with series creator Taylor Sheridan, who was impressed with his cowboy past.

"I met the writer, Taylor Sheridan, when he was working on the project. He initially contacted me about working on the project and maybe just writing some songs for the show. Once we met and started hanging out, he found out I grew up riding horses — my family ranched out in New Mexico — so I grew up doing a lot of that kind of cowboy stuff," Bingham told Wide Open Country in 2019.

"So he said 'Well, I oughta just write you a part in the show.' He said 'I'll just write something small' [and said] 'If you do good, I'll keep you in there and if you suck we'll just kill you off. [Laughs] I'm still in there so far. We'll see how it goes."

Or was it a chance encounter after all? In an interview with LA Times, Sheridan explained that he was familiar with Bingham's music prior to the series and actually used it to inspire him while writing one of his other projects.

"I wrote [the movie] 'Wind River' listening to his song 'Hallelujah' on a loop," Sheridan said. "To have him on 'Yellowstone' is a gift. He is the graveled voice of this generation's cowboys and poets."

Yellowstone's Real Cowboy

Ryan Bingham attends the premiere party for Paramount Network's "Yellowstone" Season 2 at Lombardi House on May 30, 2019 in Los Angeles, California


Bingham's experience living on a ranch has proven to be an asset on the set of YellowstoneJefferson White, who plays Jimmy, another ranch hand with a checkered past, on the series, called Bingham an "incredible cowboy."

Bingham's Yellowstone castmates say the singer and actor frequently plays music on set and is always willing to give tips to his co-stars on team roping and riding.

"He has no ego," Denim Richards, who plays bunkhouse member Colby, said of Bingham in a behind-the-scenes interview on the Paramount Network. "[Taylor Sheridan] has a really great eye for talent and putting all those pieces together. It's been a tremendous blessing to have [Bingham] be a part of the project."

The "Southside of Heaven" singer says he enjoys the wide open spaces of Montana, where the show is filmed. Who could blame him? He's currently based in Los Angeles but after growing up in a ranch setting it must be nice to get a change of pace from the packed big city he calls home.

"There's a lot of room up here to breathe, a lot of room for imagination," Bingham says.

Walker the ex-con

Ryan Bingham in scene from 'Yellowstone'

Photo via Paramount Network

When the character of Walker was first introduced, he was immediately a fan favorite. Rip needed some additional help on the ranch and literally offered him a job outside of the prison where Walker was just getting released. As an ex-con, he had limited options which Rip knew. Rip's also big on second chances since he got one himself, though he proved to regret bringing Walker on board as he didn't seem to understand the meaning of the Yellowstone brand and that you did what you're told, no questions asked. Even if that means doing some really questionable things for John Dutton to ensure the Yellowstone stays intact.

Walker has had an interesting ride over the course of Yellowstone's four (and counting) seasons. There was a minute there when we thought he was gone for good because Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes) was supposed to take him to the train station (i.e. toss him off a cliff). As we know, he made an unexpected reappearance down the road and now he's back on the ranch because he knows too much about the Yellowstone and all of its skeletons.

Though he seemed like he might be kind of a trouble maker, Walker typically likes to keep to himself. He plays his guitar, taught Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) how to ride a horse after she swore them off following a childhood trauma, and he's been too preoccupied with his new romance to really care much about any of the other drama surrounding him. Despite loathing him for a while, Rip seems to have come to terms with the fact that Walker will be sticking around for the time being.

If we've learned anything from watching Yellowstone though, it's that no ones fate is sealed on the show. After all, Sheridan killed off John Dutton's oldest son in the series premiere. We know for sure that Walker is coming back for season 5 but his future from there remains unclear.

READ MORE: Ryan Bingham Has a Theory On Kayce Dutton's Vision From 'Yellowstone' Season Four Finale


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