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Yellowstone Actors Who Are Real-Life Cowboys

Forrie J. Smith on the Show

Forrie J. Smith on the Show

Last names are overrated in the world of cowboys, so, on Yellowstone, actor Forrie J. Smith's character is known simply as "Lloyd." Lloyd works as a ranch hand on the Dutton farm and has appeared since season one of the show. Lloyd is branded with the Dutton ranch brand, which is a sign he was offered his job as a second chance in life. 

However, Lloyd is a character that's big enough for two men to portray. In some flashbacks on Yellowstone, we see Lloyd in his younger years before he knew the Duttons, and the actor that portrays the younger Lloyd looks like he could be related to Smith...and that's because he is! The younger Lloyd is portrayed by Forrie's real-life son, Forrest. 

(Image via Linson Entertainment)

Forrie J. Smith in Real Life

Forrie J. Smith in Real Life

Forrie J. Smith has been in the entertainment industry for years, but that doesn't mean he's not a real-life cowboy as well! In addition to being involved with rodeo work himself, he comes from a long line of country folks, including his mother, father, and grandfather—all of whom were barrel racers themselves. 

Before Yellowstone, Smith worked as a stuntman in Hollywood for over 20 years. So, while he's no stranger to show business in general, the show marks his first appearance as a series actor of any kind. Something tells us he's probably got some more great cowboy roles in his future! 

(Image via Instagram)

Taylor Sheridan on the Show

Taylor Sheridan on the Show

Let's be honest—there would be no Yellowstone (or 1883...or 1923) without the genius that is Taylor Sheridan. However, he's much more than just the creator and director of the show—as if that weren't enough! He's basically got his hands in almost every aspect of these shows...including the acting. 

Sheridan also portrays a recurring character on Yellowstone, Travis Wheatley. Wheatley is a horse trader and friend of the Dutton family who makes sporadic appearances in the early season before being bumped up to a series regular in season four. You can also spot Sheridan in the prequel 1883, appearing as rancher Charles Goodnight. 

(Image via Linson Entertainment)

Taylor Sheridan in Real Life

Taylor Sheridan in Real Life

While Sheridan has been a Hollywood regular (both writing and acting) since the mid-90s, the his cowboy persona is no mere act—he's the real deal. Sheridan spent his early years living on a ranch with his family until they lost the property in the early 1990s. 

After spending some time in New York and LA, Sheridan realized that rural living was the life for him and moved to Utah before ultimately relocating back to Texas. He and his wife, Nicole, actually run their own ranch now, which seems like a lot of work, considering his multiple hit TV shows! 

Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Jake Ream on the Show

Jake Ream on the Show

When Jake Ream was hired by Yellowstone production, neither of them had any intention of having him in front of the camera. In fact, series creator Taylor Sheridan brought him out specifically to teach the cast how to ride a horse and ensure that they remained safe while doing so. 

Before long, though, Ream was making appearances on the show, beginning in season one and increasing in frequency through the later seasons. This is actually his first acting job ever, but we doubt it's his last. Ream plays the ranch hand Jake on the show. 

(Image via Linson Entertainment)

Jake Ream in Real Life

Jake Ream in Real Life

There aren't many cast members on Yellowstone who are more true-to-life cowboys than Jake Ream. In fact, Ream first met Taylor Sheridan when Sheridan hit him up about buying a horse. If you've got a horse for sale, you're basically more cowboy than 99% of the country! 

Before his big Hollywood debut, Ream founded the company Ream Performance Horses, which he continues to run. His business specializes in training cutting horses, which are used for herding cattle and other livestock on ranches. It doesn't get much more authentic than that! 

Omar Vega/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Ryan Bingham on the Show

Ryan Bingham on the Show

Ryan Bingham plays everyone's favorite musical cowboy, Walker, on Yellowstone. Walker is not the greatest guy in the world, being a freshly released convict, after all, but he's become a fan favorite as his screen time has steadily increased over each of the show's seasons. He's now become a Dutton ranch staple. 

Walker was originally brought to the Dutton ranch by Rip Wheeler, the ranch foreman (portrayed by Cole Hauser), and since taking the brand, he's been welcomed into the fold. If you've ever watched the show and heard a cowboy break out into song, there's a good chance it was Walker! 

(Image via Linson Entertainment)

Ryan Bingham in Real Life

Ryan Bingham in Real Life

If you're familiar with his character, you're probably not surprised to learn that Ryan Bingham is a musician in real life. While he may have gotten his start playing bars and other small venues, his music is no joke—at this point, he's managed to nab both an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a Critics' Choice Award for his hit songs. 

However, he's also a cowboy at heart. In his younger years before his music career, Bingham was actually a part of the New Mexico rodeo circuit and made a name for himself riding bulls. So he's a decorated musician, an actor, and a bull rider? Is there anything this guy can't do? 

(Image via Instagram)

Ethan Lee on the Show

Ethan Lee on the Show

We'll be honest—there are so many ranch hands on Yellowstone that sometimes we struggle to keep up. Ethan Lee (who, appropriately, plays Ethan on the show) is a bit of a latecomer to the series, with his first appearance coming in season three of Yellowstone

However, since then, he's steadily shown up more and more on the show, with appearances in every episode of season four and planned appearances in most of the episodes in season five. Who knows? He may eventually get bumped up to the main cast by season six! 

(Image via Linson Entertainment)

Ethan Lee in Real Life

Ethan Lee in Real Life

Like many of the actors playing ranch hands on the show, is much more of a cowboy than he is a high-profile Hollywood actor. In fact, before he was cast in Yellowstone, Lee only had one previous acting credit as a wagon driver in Matthew McConaughey’s movie Free State of Jones

When he was growing up in Louisiana, Lee spent a lot of time in the rodeo scene as a bull rider and a trick rider on horses. Additionally, he's had some work as a stuntman on numerous TV shows and movies, including NCIS and Underground

(Image via Instagram)

James Landry Hebert on the Show

James Landry Hebert on the Show

Like everyone in the Yellowstone prequel 1883, James Landry Hebert's character, Wade, is a pioneer headed north in search of a better life. He made appearances in all ten episodes of this limited-run series, and while his character didn't explicitly meet an untimely end, what exactly happened to Wade is left up to the imagination. 

Wade is one of two cowboys who is hired by Shea Brannan, who is leading the expedition across the great plains. He remains with the caravan until it is eventually disbanded. After his departure, Elsa speculates what could have happened to him but doesn't have high hopes for his fate. 

(Image via MTV Entertainment Studios)

James Landry Hebert in Real Life

James Landry Hebert in Real Life

James Landry Hebert seems like a complete natural in front of a camera playing a cowboy, and there are two reasons for that. For one, he has official theater training, so it's no surprise that he can act up a storm. However, he's also a real-life cowboy, which can't hurt when you have to play one on TV!

After being orphaned at an early age and adopted by a family on an Indian reservation, Hebert grew up in the world of horse wrangling, which is just as difficult as it sounds! While he owns his own ranch, he's also nabbing high-profile roles with appearances in hits like Stranger Things and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

(Image via Instagram)

Tim McGraw on the Show

Tim McGraw on the Show

The Yellowstone prequel 1883 featured several big celebrity names in its cast, but Tim McGraw was probably the biggest get for the show. Considering his high profile, it's no wonder that he was cast to portray James Dutton, who is the great-grandfather of John Dutton III, the patriarch of the Dutton family in Yellowstone

We meet Dutton in the series after he has been released as a prisoner of war during the Civil War. He and his family link up with the expedition team headed to Montana. He hopes to find a better life for his family, but, considering this is a gritty drama, things don't always go as planned for him. 

(Image via MTV Entertainment Studios)

Tim McGraw in Real Life

Tim McGraw in Real Life

While he may not have quite the cowboy credentials as some of the other cast members, it's perfectly reasonable to consider one of the biggest country musicians of all time a genuine cowboy. 25 number-one singles on the country charts have to count for something, right? 

While he's mostly known for being country royalty, 1883 wasn't Tim McGraw's first attempt at acting. His Hollywood career first got its start in 2004 when he appeared in the hit movie Friday Night Lights. His filmography isn't the longest, but it's clear this isn't his first acting rodeo! 

Michael Hickey/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Alex Fine on the Show

Alex Fine on the Show

Alex Fine portrays Grady on 1883, and the expedition team would be lost without him. As one of the few experienced cowboys in the group, Grady helps the group wrangle a herd of Texas longhorn cattle for the trip. It's not the biggest role, but it's an important one for the show. 

In fact, Grady actually only appears in two of the series' ten episodes, but his skills prove invaluable to the entire group. However, when you're on a hit like 1883, any amount of screen time is a dream come true! 

(Image via MTV Entertainment Studios)

Alex Fine in Real Life

Alex Fine in Real Life

In real life, Alex Fine wasn't raised in the cowboy lifestyle like many of the show's real-life cowboys were. Instead, he came to it later in life. Fine primarily works as a fitness trainer in Hollywood and first got interested in bull riding when a client suggested the sport to him. 

Since then, he's caught the rodeo bug and continues to ride bulls to this day. When he's not acting or wrangling bucking broncos, Fine is married to singer-songwriter Cassie Ventura. The two got married in 2019 and currently have two children together. 

(Image via Instagram)

Faith Hill on the Show

Faith Hill on the Show

In another amazing get for the show, Faith Hill appears as Margaret Dutton, the matriarch of the family, in 1883. She, along with her husband, James, and their children, travel from Tennessee northward as they search for a new and better life. However, it's not an easy trip for her or her family members. 

Despite suffering numerous personal tragedies along the way, Margaret Dutton stays strong through it all. However, her story doesn't ultimately have a happy ending. At the beginning of the show's sequel, 1923, it's revealed that Margaret froze to death in the snow bank about a year after her husband's death. 

(Image via MTV Entertainment Studios)

Faith Hill in Real Life

Faith Hill in Real Life

Does anyone really need an explainer as to what Faith Hill gets up to when she's not starring on the show? Since 1993, Hill has been an acclaimed country musician who has managed to sell an unbelievable 40 million albums across the globe, making her one of the most successful country stars of all time. 

Like her on-screen and real-life husband, Tim McGraw, Hill was no stranger to acting before being cast in 1883. In fact, she made her first appearance in front of the camera in a 1997 episode of Touched by an Angel. She's also made appearances in films like The Stepford Wives and Dixieland, as well as in flashbacks during season four of Yellowstone.  

(Image via Instagram)

Sam Elliott on the Show

Sam Elliott on the Show

1883 (as well as Yellowstone) is a pretty no-nonsense show in general, but there's no one more no-nonsense than the character Shea Brennan, portrayed by actor Sam Elliott. In the show, Brennan is a Pinkerton agent who is in charge of helping a group of settlers safely make their way from Texas to Montana. 

Despite his professional motives, Brennan's real objective on the trip was to reach the west coast so that his now-deceased wife could see the ocean "through his eyes." By the end of the series, Brennan has achieved his goal and takes his own life, as he has nothing left to live for. 

(Image via MTV Entertainment Studios)

Sam Elliott in Real Life

Sam Elliott in Real Life

In reality, Sam Elliott is one of the most un-cowboylike people you could ever meet, as he's a California native who pursued acting from an early age. However, seeing as he's become so associated with Westerns and cowboy personas, it felt wrong not to include him on this list. 

While his real-life cowboy bona fides might not be much, not many people except for John Wayne himself have had as much success in the Western genre as Elliott has. He's made appearances in Western films for decades, including big-name films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Quick and the Dead, and Tombstone. 

CBS Photo Archive/CBS/Getty Images

Harrison Ford on the Show

Harrison Ford on the Show

The legendary film star Harrison Ford has finally made it into the comfort of our homes, playing Jacob Dutton in 1923, the sequel to 1883 and prequel to Yellowstone. Jacob Dutton is a rancher who runs the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. He is the brother of James and Claire Dutton who were seen in 1883. Jacob Dutton is the patriarch of the family in the early 20th century and married to Cara Dutton.

When speaking of his character, Harrison Ford told Outsider, “It’s a concrete character that I find realistic and intriguing to give expression to.” As for what it was like for the film star to move to the smaller screen, he said, “For me, personally, there isn’t much difference between filming for television and a feature film,” adding “There may be, actually, more time to develop a character over a number of different episodes than you have in a two-hour film.”

(Image via Paramount Network)

Harrison Ford in Real Life

Harrison Ford in Real Life

Ford also said, “This is one of the most ambitious undertaking I’ve ever taken on,” and that’s probably because it required him to train to become a real-life cowboy. “We’re spending a lot more time outdoors” Ford says,we’re in real places rather than on sets that have to be manufactured to create a reality. So there’s a sense of reality there. The minute you walk out into that cold in your 1923 costume, you begin to understand what the real life of a cowboy is like.”

Of course, this wasn’t Ford’s first time on a horse, having ridden one multiple times as Indiana Jones. And on top of that, earlier in his career, he starred in plenty of westerns in his younger days, appearing in TV series like The Virginian and Gunsmoke. If Ford is not officially a cowboy yet, its feeling like he should at least get the honorary title.

James Devaney/Contributor/WireImage/Getty Images

Helen Mirren on the Show

Helen Mirren on the Show

Helen Mirren was in over her head when she was thrust into Taylor Sheridan’s west, a common western theme, to be sure. In 1923, she plays Cara Dutton, the wife of Jacob. And while Helen Mirren may not have been a cowboy upon joining, she quickly had to learn just what it took to be one.

“I agreed to do it without reading any scripts….And I signed on without really knowing what I was getting into but with great excitement. And I think now I’m in the middle of it, I’m so grateful for the fact that I’m involved and that this will become a very important part of my filmography.”

(Image via Linson Entertainment/Bosque Ranch Productions/Treehouse Films/101 Studios/MTV Entertainment Studios)

Helen Mirren in Real Life

Helen Mirren in Real Life

Helen Mirren trained to be a cowboy for the series by attending Sheridan’s Cowboy Camp. However, when she got there, she already had some horse riding experience, believe it or not…

“I have actually ridden a horse many times, but I can’t ride. I’ve fallen off a horse many times”, Mirren told The Wrap, “And I’m older now. I said to Taylor right at the beginning, ‘I don’t ride, I can’t ride.’”

 “And thinking he’d probably say, ‘Well, that’s all right. We’ll teach you.’ But happily, he didn’t say that. He said, ‘No, it’s all right. I’m going to put you in a buggy.’ I did learn how to ride a buggy, drive a buggy, a horse and carriage, as we say in England. But I didn’t have to learn to ride. I was quite relieved about that.”

(Image via Instagram)

James Dale Badge on the Show

James Dale Badge on the Show

James Dale Badge plays John Dutton Sr. – a character who appears in both 1883 and 1923, as well as in flashbacks on Yellowstone. James Dale Badge plays the oldest version of the character who suffers a shocking death on 1923.  While his time as John Dutton Sr. was short-lived, he knew a death for his character was in store eventually.

Speaking of his death scene on the show, Badge told Deadline, “We took three days to shoot that. Like I said, when you’re working with animals and gunfire, it requires a certain type of energy. You have to really control your heartbeat and your anxiety ‘cuz that animal is feeling everything. I was just so proud of this film group and stunt guys and how they were able to handle it. It’s not always easy. When I was laying in the dirt, I was thinking like, ‘you know? I’m leaving something in this dirt. I’m leaving something here.’”

(Image via Linson Entertainment/Bosque Ranch Productions/Treehouse Films/101 Studios/MTV Entertainment Studios)

James Dale Badge in Real Life

James Dale Badge in Real Life

Like the rest of his castmates, James Dale Badge had to attend Cowboy Camp to train in the art of horse riding, among other things. Dale told Deadline, “I’ve said this before. I was born in New York City. There’s a big difference between someone who grows up on a ranch and someone who grows up riding the subway. But Taylor hires good people and I’ve known these guys throughout the years….They are good people and they bring good positive energy to work all the time, and they work safely. And I think that’s the most important thing when you’re working with animals. The animal is the main concern on set."

Speaking about his past experience with horses, he told Collider, “I've run some horses before, and the thing is, you start to learn that's like there's always another level. There's always another level that you can grow into. For me, I was just trying to be a calmer horseback rider. 'Cause you see the guys who're really good, and they're so smooth, and they're so chill, and it's effortless.”

(Image via Instagram)

Marley Shelton on the Show

Marley Shelton on the Show

Marley Shelton plays Emma Dutton in the Yellowstone prequel 1923. Emma is the wife of John Dutton Sr. and the mother of Jack Dutton. Her role on the show is significant, playing the great-grandmother of the John Dutton on Yellowstone, played by Kevin Costner.

Speaking of her character, Shelton told Collider “There's all kinds of dangers lurking in Montana plains. There is a bond of that shared experience that Helen and I, our characters, both have. It's an unspoken knowing, what's really going on underneath, but we have to kind of decidedly not go there because we have to keep... I think just methodically running the ranch keeps us from spiraling into fear and worry and loneliness.”

(Image via Linson Entertainment/Bosque Ranch Productions/Treehouse Films/101 Studios/MTV Entertainment Studios)

Marley Shelton in Real life

Marley Shelton in Real life

Marley Shelton has had plenty of acting experience in roles for films such as Pleasantville, Planet Terror and Scream but her role in 1923 was the very first time the actress had to play a cowboy – sorry, cowgirl — and that certainly meant she needed to attend cowboy camp…

“I got to try all kinds of new skills out. My character drives a buggy, so I got to also learn how to do that, which was really actually challenging but also really fun. I got really into the cattle herding aspect of cowboy camp. We did these drills when they were teaching us how to herd cattle into different corrals or pick them off or separate them, and they turned it into a competition, like a competitive game. They would time us. They'd pair us off, and we'd have to go and get five cattle and move them into a different corral.”

(Image via Instagram)

Michelle Randolph on the Show

Michelle Randolph on the Show

Michelle Randolph plays Elizabeth Strafford, the fiancée of Jack Dutton. Her appearance on the show marks her first major role in a television series, a role that she really came to embrace. And for a first role, she does a pretty darn good job.

Speaking of her character and her relationship with Jack, Randolph told US Weekly, “It’s so pure and innocent and hopeful — and passionate too…And they’re very unapologetically in love with each other. Which is really sweet because, I think, watching two people so in love you can’t help but be happy for them.”

(Image via Linson Entertainment/Bosque Ranch Productions/Treehouse Films/101 Studios/MTV Entertainment Studios)

Michelle Randolph in Real Life

Michelle Randolph in Real Life

The sister of Cassie Randolph from The Bachelor, Michelle Randolph was no cowboy in real life, which meant she desperately needed Cowboy Camp. And while she may not officially be a cowboy now, she’s certainly close to becoming one thanks to everything she learned during her cowboy crash course.

Speaking of her experience, she told US Weekly, “Everyone is so chill on set,” she said. “We had a lot of fun at Cowboy camp too. A lot of ice baths — group ice baths — and after, we were all very sore for a while. We had so much fun.” She also told Fox News just how much she loved her horse riding experience, commenting, "You get to really soar when you learn how to ride a horse.”

(Image via Instagram)

Brian Geraghty on the Show

Brian Geraghty on the Show

A veteran of both film and television, The Hurt Locker and Boardwalk Empire star Brian Geraghty plays loyal ranch hand Zane Davis, who is basically the Rip Wheeler of 1923. He works along with John Dutton and Jack Dutton. He’s one of the most likable characters on the show, so let’s hope he makes it to the next season.

Of course, it’s anyone’s guess - he isn’t really a character who is talked about in Yellowstone nor did he appear in the prequel limited series 1883. But given that Rip Wheeler is still around, that makes it a bit hopeful he’ll stick around longer.

(Image via Linson Entertainment/Bosque Ranch Productions/Treehouse Films/101 Studios/MTV Entertainment Studios)

Brian Geraghty in Real Life

Brian Geraghty in Real Life

Brian Geraghty didn’t have as much fun as his castmates when it came to Sheridan’s grueling cowboy camp, telling E! News, "We were all tortured in a two-week cowboy camp….So we got to have highs and lows together before we started, which actually was really good for bonding. We would all be terrible, and then the next day progress. We all got to be vulnerable. As adults, it's not easy to learn a new skill."

When speaking of the process, he told E! News, “You gotta not only ride a horse, but look like you know what you're doing.”

And on top of that, he and his castmates had to learn how to lasso, hold fire a six-shooter gun, and walk in spurs. According to Geraghty, “It's a whole different world."

(Image via Instagram)