After four and a half seasons of the beloved Paramount + show “Yellowstone” — with the final episodes of the series airing in November of 2023 — millions of viewers have been swept away by the drama and depth of the Dutton clan as they navigate the modern-day politics of running a high-powered Montana cattle ranch.
With the astronomical success of “Yellowstone” — lead by Kevin Costner as patriarch John Dutton, with Kelly Riley as Beth Dutton, Wes Bently as ambitious Jamie Dutton, and Luke Grimes as Kayce Dutton — it’s no wonder the Dutton universe has began to grow. It spawned the wildly popular prequel series “1883,” which aired in 2021 and starred Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Sam Elliott as the post-Civil war generation of Duttons on their journey to Montana.
The latest entry to the “Yellowstone” Dutton-verse is the origin story “1923,” which first aired in December of 2022 and showcases a post World War I generation as they tended to the ranch amidst struggles with drought, lawlessness, cattle theft, and prohibition. Their challenges intertwine with Montana’s great depression, which predated the nation by nearly a decade.
The show features major Hollywood heavies like Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren and Timothy Dalton and set a Paramount + viewership record with a whopping 7.4 million tuning in, made it the biggest series premiere on cable for 2022.
To tide you over until you can see the last episodes of “Yellowstone” and until the premier of the second season of “1923” and the newest green-lighted series (see more below), here’s a look at the star-studded “1923” cast and a few fascinating behind-the-scenes insights.
What is ‘1923’ about?
The “1923” characters follow the familiar structure viewers have come to know and love from this franchise. It follows Dutton family with their spouses and children, plus workers on the Yellowstone Ranch who are as good as blood relatives.
There are also the capitalistic nemeses who are chomping at the bit to get Dutton’s land and those who dare tread on Dutton properties for their own purposes — often just trying to survive the Great Depression.
This series also touches on the Indigenous people’s narrative of the story, which in “1923” is represented by a Residential Boarding School, a chilling, grim, and brutal part of American history.
The cast of ‘1923’
Full of both Hollywood A-listers and twinkle town newcomers, the cast of “1923” is what made it one of the most watched series of 2022 and features some of the most interesting characters in the entire “Yellowstone” franchise. Here is a rundown.
Helen Mirren as Cara Dutton
Cara Dutton, played by Academy Award Winner Helen Mirren, leads the cast as the matriarch of this generation of Duttons. She stands alongside her husband, Jacob Dutton, played by Harrison Ford.
Mirren went to “Cowboy Camp” to prepare for the role. “I said at the beginning that I don’t ride [horses]. I mean, I’ve been on the back of a horse many times, but I’m not a rider,” she told Deadline. “I’ve never really learned properly how to ride. So Taylor had the great idea of putting me in a buggy, so I did have to learn how to drive a buggy, which was really great experience. That was my Cowboy Camp.”
Harrison Ford as Jacob Dutton
Jacob Dutton, played by Harrison Ford, stands as the patriarch of this era of Duttons. While Jacob and Cara Dutton (Helen Mirren) had no children, the couple took in two of their nephews, John and Spencer, as their own.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ford explained that he took the “1923” job without reading a script. “I had faith [the showrunners] were going to deliver me a good script.” Ford went on to describe just how much work the Western series was in hindsight, but that it was “absolutely worth it.”
Brandon Sklenar as Spencer Dutton
Spencer Dutton is played by Brandon Sklenar. His parents, James and Margaret Dutton, led the “1883” series. After spending time serving in the military, he travels to Africa to hunt game.
Sklenar’s inspiration for his uber-masculine character: “On the page, he’s more than just an archetype, but he’s reminiscent of these classic, iconic film, masculine archetypes that you would have seen in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s. He’s got a bit of that Clint Eastwood vibe,” he told Newsweek. “He’s got some Humphrey Bogart, it’s all kind of in there, and I think it resonates.”
Julia Schlaepfer as Alexandra
Alexandra is played by Julia Schlaepfer. She is a British woman who, upon meeting Spencer in Africa, becomes rather invested in him.
To nail her accent and demeanor of Alexandra, Schlaepfer emulated Princess Diana: “We looked a lot at the royal family, I listened to a lot of clips of them. Ben [Richardson the director] and Taylor [Sheridan the writer] both gave me Princess Diana to look at because she’s a bit quieter, but she has this quiet rebel in her, you know?” She said to Newsweek. “Flair is what we were going for.”
Jerome Flynn as Banner Creighton
Banner Creighton is portrayed by “Game of Thrones” actor Jerome Flynn. He is a sheepherder who happens to be one of the main antagonists of the Dutton clan.
Speaking of “Game of Thrones,” according to the Wall Street Journal, the first season of “1923”, cost the studio $200 million to produce. That comes out to roughly $500,000 per minute, it makes “1923” among the most expensive shows on TV or ever made. We’re talking more expensive than the Game of Thrones spinoff.
Darren Mann as Jack Dutton
Jack Dutton, played by Darren Mann, is Jacob and Cara Dutton’s great nephew. He is the son of John Dutton Sr., who Jacob and Cara took in.
Prior to taking on the role of Jack Dutton, Darren Mann was a big fan of the series and of Taylor Sheridan’s work. He told Screen Rant, “I’ve been itching to work with Taylor for years. I can remember at TIFF 2018, they asked me, ‘Who do you want to work with?’ And I was like, ‘Taylor Sheridan. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna find him. I have to.'”
Brian Geraghty as Zane Davis
Zane Davis is a foreman on the ranch, played by Brian Geraghty. Geraghty, who has played roles in shows like Chicago P.D. and Big Sky, talked about his character’s loyalty to Cara and Jacob Dutton in the show.
“They’re like parents to him. They’ve been great to him. Jacob helped him afford this life that he loves, which is being a cowboy,” he told TV Insider. “The thing about cowboys is they need to work. They love their jobs, and they love showing up to work every day. So I think that’s it. He is always doing something in action for them.”
Aminah Nieves as Teonna Rainwater
Teonna Rainwater is a a young Native American girl who was placed in a boarding school after being taken from her family. She is played by Aminah Nieves.
Nieves, who is an Indigenous actress, told Elle, “A lot of people don’t know what happened or deny it happened; some people even think Native Americans don’t exist anymore. That’s why it’s so important to portray our story as honestly as we can, especially on bigger platforms like this, so people can’t run away from it anymore.”
Michelle Randolph as Liz Strafford
Liz Strafford is Jack Dutton’s fiancee, played by Michelle Randolph. Coincidentally, Randolph and Darren Mann actually played a couple before in a film called House of the Witch.
When it comes to her and Mann’s characters, Randolph told The Hollywood Reporter, “Their relationship, I imagine, is like every Taylor Swift music video or cheesy love song,” she said. “It’s the perfect little love story, and it was fun being able to play into that because it’s not something I’ve experienced in my real life. It’s very, very beautiful.”
Timothy Dalton as Donald Whitfield
Donald Whitfield is another antagonist in the “1923” universe, played by Timothy Dalton. He’s a wealthy businessman who won’t hesitate to do whatever he must to acquire what he wants.
While his character might be menacing, Timothy Dalton has earned a much more positive reception from his peers. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Taylor Sheridan said of Dalton, “When I called him, I called him from a ranch in Wyoming…and he said, ‘Taylor what are you asking me to do? There’s no script, there’s nothing.‘ I said, ‘You just gotta trust me,’ which I guess is not a British thing to do, but he did and his work is special and I’m honored to have him a part of it.”
Where can I watch “1923”?
“1923” is available to stream exclusively on Paramount +. You can try it for free for a week or a Paramount + Essential subscription costs $5.99/month or $59.99/year.
Do I need to watch “1883” or “Yellowstone” to watch “1923”?
Because the events of “Yellowstone” take place after those of “1923,” it isn’t necessary to watch first. On the other hand, the events of “1883” do take place prior to those of “1923.” While the storylines are loosely connected, it isn’t necessary to start with “1883,” but some might wish to.
Many viewers choose to watch in release order with “Yellowstone,” followed by “1883,” and then “1923.” Others have approached the series in chronological order, starting with “1883,” followed by “1923,” and then “Yellowstone.” Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong way to do it!
When is season two coming?
The first season of “1923” aired on December 18, 2022 and concluded in February of 2023. Luckily, the second chapter of this gripping series has been confirmed. However, fans can’t expect a set date for when they might see it on their screens.
According to NBC Montana, production of season two has been delayed indefinitely due to the Writers Guild of America strike. Several other shows have been affected as well, such as “Outlander,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and many more favorites.
While the show was initially created with the intention of it being one season, both fans and the cast have expressed excitement over where their storylines will go come season two. “I think of it as one piece,” Brandon Sklenar told The Hollywood Reporter. “There’s just a split in the middle, but it’s all one piece.”
Telling stories of this caliber is no simple task. Taylor Sheridan, the mastermind behind the “Yellowstone” universe, told Deadline: “Because it is so hard, physically, on the actors, on the crew, I feel like the shots look earned. And because Paramount trusts me and gives me the time to go shoot 10 to 14 days for a television episode, we can treat it like a movie, and it looks like a movie.”
He continues, “We can take the time to rehearse it and light it and build these set pieces. And if I call them and say, I need two helicopters in one day, they just go, all right.”
What Taylor Sheridan says, goes, and we can’t wait to see what his wild imagination comes up with next!