‘1923’ Is Shaping Up to Be the Most Impressive ‘Yellowstone’ Show to Date: Here’s Why

by Jon D. B.
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Harrison Ford speaks onstage during D23 Expo 2022 at Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California on September 10, 2022. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

What do you get when you combine Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, Taylor Sheridan, and one of the most chaotic years in American history? 1923.

We’ve known Taylor Sheridan‘s next Yellowstone prequel, 1923, will star Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren for quite some time now. But the casting announcements of the last few months have gone a long way in cementing this as the finest ensemble of any Yellowstone project to date. The roles they’re filling are also fleshing out what fans can expect from the series. And to put it plainly, I don’t think we’re ready for how impressive this show could be.

Sheridan’s first prequel, 1883, far exceeded expectations, anchoring a masterful tale on the star power of Western giant Sam Elliott. Pairing him with country megastars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill was a smart move, too, as both have limited acting experience. Audiences and critics alike were unsure how to feel about their casting beforehand, making 1883 feel like a true “wait and see” risk. But the real-life married couple rose far beyond the challenge, proving themselves fantastic leads for what would become the finest television Sheridan has conjured in his career.

And things are already different for 1923. The show’s leads are as opposite of a “risk” as possible. Not only has Sheridan managed to cast Hollywood royalty as his patriarch and matriarch, but he’s managed to surround them with phenomenal, proven talent, too.

‘1923’ Packs a Powerful Cast and an Unexplored Generation of Duttons

As Jacob and Clara Dutton, Ford and Mirren have action stalwart James Badge Dale as backup in the form of John Dutton Sr., “the oldest nephew and right-hand man of Jacob Dutton.”

James Badge Dale attends the premiere of Warner Bros Pictures’ “The Kitchen”. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

As the “right-hand man” of his Uncle Jacob, Dale’s John will play a pivotal role in 1923, and will no doubt inherit the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch for his offspring. That offspring, of course, leading to Kevin Costner’s John III of Yellowstone proper.

1923 is also set to unfurl that long-absent gap in the Dutton family tree. We’ve yet to meet any of the generation between 1883‘s John Dutton Sr. (who Dale will be the third actor to portray) and Yellowstone‘s John Dutton Sr. (Dabney Coleman).

Darren Mann during Toronto International Film Festival 2018. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images)

The introduction of Darren Mann as Jack Dutton will be our first introduction to this third generation of Western Duttons. Jack is the son of John Dutton Sr. (Dale), and great nephew to Jacob Dutton (Ford). Casting announcements describe Jack as “a dedicated rancher who is deeply loyal to his family.” And it is he who will eventually father the John Dutton Sr., or II, of Yellowstone flashbacks.

Actor Jerome Flynn at the premiere of HBO’s ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 7. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

But the hits just keep on coming. One of the most recent additions to the cast is Game of Thrones favorite Jerome Flynn. Flynn will give life to the “hard-headed, brogue-wearing Scotsman,” Banner Creighton. As the leader of the local sheep men, Flynn’s Creighton will be one of many beloved character actors elevating the ensemble to prestige television heights.

Frontier Justice Meets Modern America

And then there’s the setting. 1923 will not only focus on the decade’s (now unthinkable) American Prohibition, but also the catastrophic droughts, depressions, and their resulting famines that Americans faced throughout the 1920s.

Not only this, but Montana in the year 1923 also brings the perfect setting for a Sheridan drama. In the early 20th century, Montana was still very much a land of frontier justice. Much of what we saw in 1883 and Yellowstone Season 4 flashbacks is still the reality of this gorgeous yet deeply scarred landscape.

In choosing 1923, Sheridan picks the perfect “halfway” point between the “old world” of 1883 and the modern political hellscape of Yellowstone. Place actors like Ford, Mirren, Dale, and Flynn in such a mix and you have a recipe for a masterclass in television. Let alone a Western.

All of the above considered makes 1923 a far more likely candidate for multiple seasons than 1883. Both McGraw and Hill are done with their 1883 characters for good, and Sheridan is looking to move that story on to a Bass Reeves-centered series instead. And with half of audiences’ favorite central protagonists dead, this is probably the best move.

But come 1923, Sheridan has the chance to embrace Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford as his television leads for as long as they’ll have him. There’s a good century’s worth of stories to unfold, too. So here’s to hoping 1923 delivers, then keeps it coming.

For more on the cast ahead of 1923’s December 2022 premiere, see our Meet ‘1923’s New Duttons: Jacob, John Sr., Jack, and the Actors Portraying Them in ‘Yellowstone’ Prequel next.