Taylor Sheridan Movies and TV Shows: The ‘Yellowstone’ Creator’s Full Body of Work

by Amy Myers
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(Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Since the masterpiece series known as Yellowstone hit screens just a few years ago, Taylor Sheridan has become an icon for Western movies and TV shows. And while Yellowstone may be one of the writer/creator/director’s crown jewels, Sheridan has been around long before the era of the Duttons.

In fact, he’s embodied the Western attitude since he was a kid. Born in 1970 in Cransfill Gap, Texas, Taylor Sheridan has always known what a rancher lifestyle demands. In his hometown, west of Waco, the young ranchhand grew up around cattle and even began driving the pickup at age 12. By 14 years old, he was herding the cattle, himself. When he wasn’t working on his family’s ranch, he was watching the classic Westerns with Clint Eastwood and John Wayne.

Of course, later in life, Taylor Sheridan would make the switch from his West Texas childhood to California where he tried to cut his teeth on acting for movies and TV shows. But those first years of his life made a huge imprint on how he would view the world and what he valued most.

Taylor Sheridan’s Writing Credits

Movies:

Shows:

  • Sicario (2015)
  • Hell or High Water (2016)
  • Wind River (2017)
  • Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)
  • The Last Cowboy (2019)
  • Without Remorse (2021)
  • Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021)
  • Fast (pre-production)
  • Yellowstone (2018-)
  • Mayor of Kingstown (2021-)
  • 1883 (2021-2022)
  • Lioness (pre-production)

Overview of Taylor Sheridan’s Career

  • Taylor Sheridan spent early life on a ranch
  • Also derived inspiration from his time on Native American reservations
  • Breakthrough came with his first screenplay, Sicario
  • Career has expanded exponentially since his debut as a writer

Taylor Sheridan Before the Movies and TV Shows

From Rancher to Thespian

Unfortunately, Taylor Sheridan’s ranching career ended prematurely when his parents split after his high school graduation and his mother couldn’t afford to keep the property. So, he decided to enroll at Texas State University where he studied theater. Sheridan thought that the degree seemed like fun, but in all honesty, he wasn’t happy.

So, when he got a gig for a commercial in Chicago, he dropped out of college and uprooted himself. Following the shoot, he took himself to L.A., hoping to find better opportunities there.

‘Salvation Was in Solitude’

However, with little luck getting any new jobs, Sheridan had to camp on the hills of the city. Eventually, he would accidentally end up on a Native American reservation. The aspiring actor became acquainted with a few members of the Pine Ridge reservation. Soon enough, Sheridan was spending his days listening to their stories, hearing their struggles and learning how different life was for them. This experience would greatly influence the characters in Taylor Sheridan’s future movies and TV shows.

When reflecting on his time spent on reservations, Sheridan shared, “In the late ’90s, I spent a lot of time on reservations, and there was a level of poverty and injustice that I had not witnessed before. I was shocked by it. This is federally controlled land, and there was an insidious mix of apathy and exploitation.”

Similarly, he commented on the U.S. government’s treatment of Native American and indigenous tribes. As a writer and creator, Sheridan believes it is his obligation to bring these stories and issues to the forefront of the nation’s conscience.

“It is the great shame of my nation the manner in which it has treated the native inhabitants of North America,” Sheridan said. “Sadly, my government continues that shame with an insidious mixture of apathy and exploitation. (…) There is nothing I can do to change the issues afflicting Indian country, but what we can do as artists – and must do – is scream about them with fists clenched. What we can do – is make sure these issues aren’t ignored. Then the people who can effect change will be forced to.”

How Taylor Sheridan Has Become a Household Name

‘Father of Modern Westerns’

Following his stay on the reservation, Sheridan managed to land a few minor roles in works like Walker and Veronica Mars. And for two years, he even worked on Sons of Anarchy. But Sheridan wouldn’t find his true calling until he moved to Wyoming, where he penned his first screenplay, Sicario.

While Sicario is now an award-winning film, it took a few years for Sheridan to get it off the ground. Back when the ink was still fresh on the page, the writer remembers trying to pitch the script while his hometown was in literal flames.

“In 2011, I was in Hollywood peddling ‘Sicario’ to constant and resounding ‘no’s,” Sheridan recalled. “Texas was suffering the worst drought on record. Wildfires spread across West Texas, burning some 4 million acres and 3,000 homes. While the urban centers in Texas were experiencing an economic boom, West Texas was collapsing under the weight of drought and fires.”

Thankfully, though, the film appeared at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015. And the response was a resounding success. This was exactly the catalyst that Sheridan needed to jumpstart his career. Just a few years later, Sheridan wrote the sequel to Sicario. This ended up being an early version of Hell or High Water, his second huge success. Then came Wind River, rounding out the famous “frontier trilogy.”

The ‘Yellowstone’ Era

Just when Taylor Sheridan was just cresting the ridge of top Hollywood writers, he pushed the limits even further with his next project – the show we can’t get enough of, Yellowstone. As we know, the series was an instant hit, further coining his place as the “father of modern Westerns.”

Then, like a domino effect, the creator pumped out 1883 and upcoming Yellowstone spinoffs, 6666 and 1932.

It might seem superhuman that Taylor Sheridan has been able to deliver so many top-notch movies and TV shows within the past two decades, but to him, the formula for success is pretty simple.

“I look for absurdly simple plots so that I can simply focus on the characters. Having an understanding of what dialogue’s easy to say and hard to say – I think that that’s helpful, too,” Sheridan shared, adding that he’s “allergic to exposition.”

He also lives by the mantra, “Never let a character tell me something that the camera can show me.”

And clearly, the words of wisdom have worked for him.

Thanks to Taylor Sheridan and his fellow co-creators, we are living in a truly special time in cinematic history. Like a phoenix from the ashes, Sheridan has resurrected the Western era and placed it under a new, more authentic light. Some lived in the era of spaghetti Westerns and Sergio Leone, but we get to say we lived in the era of Yellowstone and Taylor Sheridan.

Outsider.com