Before Taylor Sheridan was the co-creator of the massively successful Yellowstone on Paramount Network, he was an actor. Sons of Anarchy fans might remember him from when he played Deputy Chief David Hale on the first three seasons of the FX series or Veronica Mars fans might recall when he played Danny Boyd. But after years of building up his resume, Sheridan abruptly decided to quit. In a recent Deadline interview, Sheridan opens up about that decision.
Within a few years, Sheridan went from being a struggling actor that primarily landed supporting roles, to becoming an Oscar-nominated screenwriter. So why the move from acting to behind the camera?
"I've always said Hollywood will tell you what you're supposed to be doing, if you will listen," Sheridan told Deadline, explaining his decision to walk away from Sons of Anarchy after three seasons.
"At that time, they were offering me what I thought was a very unfair wage. It was less than virtually every other person on the show, and not enough for me to quit my second job. So, the business affairs attorney, who I won't name, here's what he told my attorney who said, look, there's kids on the Cartoon Network making more than you're offering this guy.
"The guy goes, 'I know and you're right that he probably deserves to make more, but we're not going to pay him more because guess what, he's not worth more,' " Sheridan recalled. "'That's what he's worth. There's 50 of him. He is 11 on the call sheet. That's what that guy is, and that's all he's ever going to be.' And that's really when I quit...And I decided right there that I didn't want to be 11 on the call sheet for the rest of my life."
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And just like that, Sheridan put his days of chasing around Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) behind him and focused on writing. His first film, Sicario, landed with director Denis Villeneuve becoming a massive hit thriller that led to a sequel a few years later with Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro. Hell or High Water landed him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and Wind River gave Sheridan his big directing debut.
He clearly found his path because he's reached a point where he can just send his scripts to major names like Kevin Costner, Sam Elliott, Jeremy Renner, and Tim McGraw. He's expanded the Yellowstone universe with a prequel series following the origins of the Dutton family and has planned a Texas spinoff. He even has Renner starring in the drama series Mayor of Kingstown, an idea he played around with for over a decade.
One of the most notable things about Sheridan is how thoughtful his writing is. His writing is heavily influenced by the American history he would read growing up on his family's Texas ranch which most likely served him in 1883. He even spent time on a Native American reservation while working on Wind River to make sure he was properly honoring the story and delicate subject matter. He's a hard worker and that is definitely reflected in all of his films and television series.
While you probably won't be seeing him on shows like NYPD Blue or Party of Five anymore, you'll still see him occasionally in some of his own shows, like Yellowstone. It's a very different situation being 11 on the call sheet on the TV show you actually created.
"Now, I am happily 11 on the call sheet on Yellowstone, but I don't think anybody wants to watch me do anything on television for an hour because the business told me they don't. They told me I'm supposed to story tell behind the camera. And so, the only reason I am in front of the camera playing [the horse trainer] Travis is because I grew up on a ranch, riding horses. There's just not another actor out there who can do those things on a horse."
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