HomeEntertainmentTVYellowstone‘Yellowstone’ Star Ethan Lee Reveals He Initially Turned Down the Show

‘Yellowstone’ Star Ethan Lee Reveals He Initially Turned Down the Show

by Victoria Santiago
Photo Credit: Yellowstone Gallery, Paramount Network Press Center, Viacom

Ethan Lee is an actual cowboy that happened to find his way onto Taylor Sheridan’s iconic Yellowstone. He didn’t immediately agree to the role, though.

Since Lee is such a jack-of-all-trades, he’s often wanted on TV sets for his valuable experience and knowledge. He grew up at rodeos, spent time riding bulls and horses, and even worked as a rodeo trick rider for years. On shows, Lee has made saddles, prepped horses, and taught actors how to ride horses. In the past, he’s done work on NCIS: New Orleans and Free State of Jones. Lee decided that he didn’t fit in well with Hollywood’s “hurry up and wait” culture. So, when Yellowstone came calling, he decided to turn them down.

“All my kids were small, and dad just didn’t want to be gone that much, you know?” Lee regretted his decision to turn Paramount’s show down, though. He liked the work itself, and he certainly liked the money that came from working on TV shows. “I even told my wife I kind of regret turning that down,” Ethan Lee said. “Sounded like such a good deal and something that may be fun, something that may go seasons. So, you’re thinking I might have turned something down that could be great, potentially.”

When Ethan Lee Finally Agreed to Help on ‘Yellowstone,’ He Quickly Rose Through the Ranks

After turning down Yellowstone, he talked about it with his wife and decided that he would agree if they called him back. Of course, they called him back. A job that would originally take two weeks ended up lasting for all four seasons of the show.

Since most of the actors in the popular Western don’t know how to ride horses, Ethan Lee runs a cowboy boot camp for them before filming starts. After that, he acts as an on-call teacher for whatever riding lessons or help the actors need. In addition to that, he would occasionally fill in as a stunt double if an actor didn’t feel comfortable for something.

For example, he first filled in for Ian Bohen, who plays Ryan on the show. They were filming at night, and there was a lot going on. Due to this, Bohen didn’t feel comfortable riding his horse. Someone told Lee, “Hey, I need you to get in wardrobe and stunt double for this guy, Ian Bohen, he’s not comfortable.” After that, he started being used a stunt double more often. His role on the show grew quickly from that point on.

Eventually, Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan started writing Ethan Lee into the episodes. He’d write in the cowboy as “Ethan, a Yellowstone ranch hand.” By the end of the second season, Lee was an official part of the cast. “For me, it was a huge deal and always will be,” he said.