The Paramount Network's hit series Yellowstone has really created some excitement around cowboy culture in general. The story of patriarch John Dutton (Kevin Costner) operating the largest cattle ranch in the United States is fascinating for people who really don't have much exposure to the cattle industry. Sure, he's technically incredibly wealthy on the show, so not your average rancher, but with his son Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes) working as the Livestock Commissioner, we get more of a peek at how that industry works to protect the average rancher as well as defends their way of life.
Part of the reason the TV show looks so authentic is not only because it's filmed on location in Montana but the fact that the entire cast (except for Kelly Reilly, who plays Beth Dutton) needed to train at what is known as 'cowboy camp' before filming started. It doesn't hurt that the Dutton Ranch is also filled with real-life cowboys. Some started as behind-the-scenes trainers, and others joined as actors with a rodeo past.
Here are 5 real cowboys who currently star on Yellowstone.
Forrie J. Smith - Lloyd
Forrie J Smith plays fan-favorite Lloyd, the ranch hand and loyal best friend of Rip Wheeler. Smith grew up in Montana, where the rodeo was really just the family business. His mother was a barrel racer, and his father and grandfather both competed as well. After falling off of a horse as a child, he told his parents he wanted to grow up to become a stuntman, and he did just that. He's been working on stunts in Hollywood for well over 20 years, picking up bit parts in front of the camera here and there starting in the late '80s. Yellowstone is actually his first series regular job, and as we've seen over the past four seasons, he's great. Who isn't rooting for Lloyd?
Taylor Sheridan - Travis
Series creator Taylor Sheridan grew up on a ranch in Texas. He's a talented rider whose upbringing is essentially what helps his writing about the Dutton family seem so authentic in the series. After moving on from his acting career and hitting it big as a writer and director, Sheridan spent some time in Utah but is now fully based in Texas, where he owns and operates a ranch with his wife. He wrote himself into his series as Travis Wheatly, a horse trader who does business with John Dutton. He looks effortless on a horse because, at this point, it's just second nature to him.
Jake Ream - Jake
Funny enough, Ream first met Taylor Sheridan when he reached out to buy a horse. The Utah cowboy had no idea who Sheridan was at the time, but they formed a connection. Fast forward to the beginning of Yellowstone's production in Montana, and Sheridan calls Ream out to help train actors to ride and generally help behind the scenes.
In Yellowstone season 1, Ream started out mostly saddling and wrangling horses and generally being on top of everyone's safety. He's actually one of the most talented horse wranglers Paramount has and now helps out with the crazy stunts we see on the series. Sheridan started adding Ream into more and more scenes, needing a cowboy here and there to rope or ride. Pretty soon, he just got added to the cast as a member of the bunkhouse, his first acting gig ever. Not too bad!
Ryan Bingham - Walker
Ryan Bingham grew up around the rodeo and horses. He grew up in a small town on the New Mexico/Texas border and started learning to ride bulls at a young age. He left home at 17 and supported himself in the rodeo world, his rodeo buddies becoming more like family. Eventually, he got his big break with music which led to his current opportunity on Yellowstone as Walker. While you get to see Bingham perform music pretty regularly on the show, what you don't see is how he helps behind the scenes. On the Yellowstone podcast, host Jefferson White (Jimmy on the show) explained that Bingham was really helpful to all of the cast members that weren't as familiar with riding horses and would constantly offer advice and helpful critiques to look more authentic.
Ethan Lee - Ethan
Ethan Lee is a real-life cowboy who grew up in Amite, La, spending years at the rodeo riding bulls, horses, and more. He even spent years working as a trick rider. He got introduced to the entertainment industry after getting asked to help out with horses for Matthew McConaughey's 2016 film Free State of Jones. More opportunities kept coming to help with horses in Hollywood, and eventually, the Yellowstone team reached out. What was meant to be a couple of weeks of work turned into months, and by the end of season two, Taylor Sheridan made him part of the cast. Ethan Lee became 'Ethan the ranch hand,' an official member of the Yellowstone Ranch.
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