Wes Bentley in scene from 'Yellowstone' as Jamie Dutton
Paramount Network

Who Plays Jamie on 'Yellowstone'? Wes Bentley Plays the Controversial Dutton

There's a reason everyone keeps talking about the hit Paramount network show Yellowstone. It's that good. And it brought Kevin Costner to our TV every week, which is definitely exciting. But the show as a whole wouldn't be the same without its incredible cast, including the sometimes difficult to love character Jamie Dutton, played by Wes Bentley. Jamie has really been through it over the show's past four seasons, and it looks like he has even more hurdles coming his way in Yellowstone season 5.

While certain Yellowstone characters have developed passionate fan followings, namely Beth Dutton and Rip Wheeler, others have earned a reputation for being a bit more complicated and easy to root against. That is certainly the case for Jamie who has always felt like an outsider in the Dutton family, despite growing up in a loving home, getting a Harvard education and basically guaranteed job security for life since John Dutton essentially runs the show in Montana. He's kind of a mess, and certainly has his fair share of issues with his sister Beth, but that's really what makes him so interesting on the series. It can't always be a room full of fan-favorites. You need to have some chaos thrown in the mix to keep things interesting. Wes Bentley definitely delivers on keeping Jamie one to watch on the series and he continues to get more intriguing as the series goes on.

Who is Wes Bentley?

Wes Bentley attends Paramount's "Yellowstone" Season 5 New York Premiere at Walter Reade Theater on November 03, 2022 in New York City.

Photo by Roy Rochlin/WireImage

Wesley Cook Bentley was born in Jonesboro but grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. Though he attended the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City studying drama, he was only there for one year before he dropped out to fully focus on his acting career. And he pretty much immediately started booking roles in feature films, including Oprah Winfrey's Beloved, and the Oscar-winner, American Beauty.

Bentley went on to star in Lovelace, 3 Nights in the Desert, The Game of Their Lives, The Four Feathers, Ghost Rider, Jonah Hex, and The Hunger Games as game maker Seneca Crane. He also appeared in the live adaptation of the Disney film Pete's Dragon and Mission: Impossible - Fallout. Outside of feature films, Bentley also has plenty of TV experience. He spent years joining Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story family appearing in three different seasons — American Horror Story: Freak Show, American Horror Story: Hotel, and American Horror Story: Roanoke. 

Unfortunately for Bentley, making it in Hollywood at a young age led to personal struggles with substance abuse. Like his best friend and former co-star Heath Ledger, Bentley started heavily using drugs as a way to cope with the intense expectations people had for him in the industry. At one time, he was using drugs full-time, which led to the end of his first marriage to actress Jennifer Quanz. 

But the actor pulled through. Though he didn't ever go to rehab since he was low on extra cash at the time, attending regular meetings with his 12-step program did the trick. Bentley's career came back better than ever with a supporting role in the Christopher Nolan film Interstellar. The 2009 documentary My Big Break even features Bentley discussing his early fame from playing Ricky Fitts in the film American Beauty and his drug and alcohol abuse.

In 2010, Bentley married producer Jacqui Swedberg, and they have since welcomed two children together, a daughter named Brooklyn and a son named Charles. He's stayed clean and sober ever since he decided to turn his life around.

Yellowstone's Jamie Dutton

Kevin Costner and Wes Bentley in a scene from 'Yellowstone'

Paramount Network

Since 2018, Bentley has been playing Jamie Dutton on Yellowstone opposite his onscreen siblings, played by Luke Grimes and Kelly Reilly. On the show, Jamie specifically struggles with his relationship with his sister Beth which has sometimes been tough for viewers to watch (those flashback scenes are painful). In an interview with Screenrant, Bentley explained some of the difficulties involved with playing Jamie on the show.

"I think for Jamie, there's a lot of conflict in him with his family and trying to find his place. His loyalties continue to be tested...and he continues to look for himself. It seems to be a lifelong search, but it never can be a search without something dramatic happening."

Is Jamie a good guy or a bad guy? It's a topic of conversation fans have tried to figure out since day 1. Jamie constantly tries to get his father's support, even after discovering he was adopted and dealing with that situation. But he also undermines John, has his troubled past with Beth, and killed that reporter a few seasons ago. So it's hard to say, but Bentley doesn't approach playing his character with that mentality. He embraces Jamie's character flaws as what makes him so interesting.

"I try not to view any characters with that kind of judgment," Bentley told Wide Open Country in 2021. "That was a rule I learned at acting school, and I really believed in it so I stick with it. I do my best, but you know, I've been playing Jamie for years now, so it's hard not to have some of that. I guess I can see how he could be viewed as a villain, but, myself, I can't see him that way because I'm just looking out for Jamie, basically. I'm looking for what he wants and we're going to get that thing. And what he fears, I fear. So it's tricky. But when I can kind of peel myself away, yeah, definitely. I can see how some people could see him as a villain. And some people are confused and the ones who see him as a villain, they're a little connected to him. So now they don't know how to feel about that. So it's complicated in the best ways."

This article was originally published in June, 2020.

Read More: 'Yellowstone': How Luke Grimes Went from 'American Sniper' to Kayce Dutton