In a recent interview, 1923‘s own John Dutton Sr., James Badge Dale, reveals that he and Harrison Ford are highly perplexed by the Dutton family tree.
At Outsider, we’ve been mapping out the Dutton family tree for years now (literally). It all started back in Yellowstone Season 2 with that moving flashback of a younger, moustache-clad John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and his ailing, elderly father, John Sr. (Dabney Coleman). We’d seen flashbacks prior, but none as captivating as this glimpse into Duttons of the past. Fans, and the show’s mastermind, Taylor Sheridan, have been fascinated with this family’s history ever since.
Sheridan’s own fascination with his television-dominating family has given us the fantastic 1883 and (currently) 1923. And while neither has produced a character as timeless or groundbreaking as Costner’s John, both have shown Sheridan’s storytelling ability at its finest.
For Outsider, and myself in particular, a passion for my own family history and family tree led us to create the first comprehensive Dutton Family Tree for fans (including ourselves) to help decipher this family’s lineage from 1883 into Yellowstone. While fruitful (and a blast to continually cover, ponder, and debate), 1923 is now filling in some of the gaps for us. But as the latest actor to portray a John Dutton Sr. reminds us, nothing will ever be set in stone until Taylor Sheridan writes it so.
‘And here’s the thing, this is Taylor’s universe’
When asked about his character’s relation to Costner’s John, James Badge Dale answers honestly. “I don’t know the tree. We all need a flow chart. I’ve seen them online, when people have tried to create them,” the 1923 star says of ours and the countless others out there.
“I don’t know if those are accurate or not. And here’s the thing, this is Taylor’s universe. We could be saying one thing or thinking one thing, and Taylor can decide something else and we’ll be watching “1943” and realize it’s a little different and he’ll change it up,” Dale adds.
Ain’t that the truth. But this is far from a negative. In fact, it’s the best part of finding this fictional family fascinating. We may have Jack Dutton (Darren Mann) and Elizabeth Strafford (Michelle Randolph) pegged as the grandparents of Costner’s John through 1923‘s early episodes. But what if Sheridan pulls a bait-and-switch and it’s Spencer Dutton (Brandon Sklenar) and Alexandra (Julia Schlaepfer) that end up continuing on the family tree?
At this point, anything is possible, as Dale so rightly says. And at least on my end, this is far more fun than having it all figured out. How interesting would it be to have Spencer become the one to carry on the Dutton lineage and legacy? Perhaps he will in a roundabout way, and will prove the ancestor of adopted Jamie Dutton’s (Wes Bentley) real mother, who we know has a deep connection to John Dutton, but we don’t know how?
‘Harrison and I would be like, ‘I think we’re related, I don’t know how.’ We all need a flow chart.’
The only thing that keeps me from firmly considering Spencer as the grandfather of Kevin Costner’s John is Sheridan’s own words to his 1883 cast. By what he told Tim McGraw, McGraw’s James Dutton is the great-great grandfather to Costner’s John. By this, one of his sons would be the great grandfather, with John Sr. being the obvious choice both by name and how 1923 is using the story of his son, Jack (as our current Dutton family tree shows).
If Spencer proves to be the one to actually carry on this legacy, it would throw a big wrench in what McGraw said via Sheridan. For Spencer’s son to be Dabney Coleman’s John of Yellowstone flashbacks, this would eliminate a generation, making James the
great-great-grandfather of Costner’s John. But hey, such changes have already been made once, so why not again.
Sheridan Has Already Changed the Dutton Family Tree Before
When I spoke to McGraw ahead of the 1883 premiere, he told me point-blank that his James was the great grandfather to Costner’s John. And this only goes to further Dale’s point that nothing is “fact” until Sheridan writes it. We’re dealing in fiction, after all. It can be whatever Sheridan wants it to be and chance ten times over.
This was the overarching feeling on 1923’s set, too, Dale says.
“This was the running joke. Harrison and I would be like, ‘I think we’re related, I don’t know how.’ We all need a flow chart,” he jokes of Ford.
Answers are coming, though. We’ll find out how the Dutton family tree works out come the rest of 1923 Season 1 and that confirmed Season 2.