If you're a major fan of the Paramount Network's hit series Yellowstone, you know that the actors are really getting their hands dirty on set in Utah and Montana. Kevin Costner leads the drama series as the patriarch of the Dutton family, trying to maintain his family's legacy for his children and grandchild. Yellowstone season 4 is coming up this summer and it's hard to believe how far we've come with these characters since the very first episode.
Before the cameras started rolling, creator Taylor Sheridan made sure that everyone on the Dutton Ranch knew how to accurately portray life as a real cowboy. Since Beth Dutton has a tough relationship with horses and the ranch, Kelly Reilly was off the hook, but everyone else went to "cowboy camp" where they learned to ride horses and live off the grid alongside real cowboys.
"Taylor [Sheridan]'s a cowboy himself," Luke Grimes explained to the Paramount Network. "He really walks the walk. He made sure that we were on the horse every day and he sent us to the cowboy camp."
A bunch of actors in the woods must have been hilarious for the real cowboys to deal with...but as Grimes explains, they were very aware of it.
"It was like a mule packing trip," Grimes told Associated Press. "So we were on horseback, we went like 20 miles into the wilderness, and cooked our own food, rode around all day, with shotguns...it was goofy...it was like City Slickers."
Essentially, the actors were sent up into the mountains with some real cowboys for a few nights. It was about five or six actors including Grimes (Kayce Dutton), Bentley (Jamie Dutton), Cole Hauser (Rip Wheeler), and Jefferson White (Jimmy). Even Colby (Denim Richards) from the bunkhouse was there...but apparently had some serious issues with altitude sickness. Kevin Costner is known for having incredible horseriding skills from starring in his Oscar-winning Dances With Wolves, the western hit Open Range, and more. We're assuming he just picked up where he left off for this TV show and didn't need to attend camp with the others but who knows!
"Cowboy camp was incredible," gushed Wes Bentley. "Four days in the mountains running around, get away from cell service. I'm one of the most experienced actors as far as horseriding goes, and I'm never on a horse!"
Forrie J. Smith, who plays Lloyd on the TV series, previously worked with Taylor Sheridan on his film Hell or High Water and said he really did show up to set looking like a cowboy, spurs on his boots and everything. By sending his cast to cowboy camp to train with the real deal, Sheridan was ensuring that things looked as authentic as possible on the show. We'd say he definitely succeeded and that's part of the reason the series is so captivating.
"I was a cowboy before I was ever an actor," explained Smith. "Most stuntmen back in the 50s, especially in westerns, came from the rodeo world. Becoming a cowboy or a horseman is a lifetime endeavor."
Apparently, the actors had a real reality check of what cowboys really went through away from it all with no outside contact during their trip. Living off the land is definitely an experience and they didn't necessarily have what it takes to truly rough it.
"We'd all be out there grabbing sticks and twigs and maybe the occasional branch off a tree," Bentley told NY Post. "And you feel really tough. And finally one of the real cowboys who was this Paul Bunyan-type guy went over and cut down an entire tree. He brought the whole tree over and he goes, 'That's a fire.' You're like, 'OK, this guy is not like me at all.'"