‘Yellowstone’ Creator Taylor Sheridan Draws Inspiration From a Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson Classic

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

For his fan-favorite show “Yellowstone,” Taylor Sheridan drew inspiration from another gritty, mysterious show; “True Detective,” the first season of which starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. The show followed the two detectives as they solved a bizarre ritual killing. It explored their psyches and odd behaviors as well, delving deep into the characters.

The first season of “True Detective” was written and created entirely by Cary Joji Fukunaga and Nic Pizzolatto. Taylor Sheridan did something similar, where he creates and writes every episode of “Yellowstone.” Sheridan spoke to Deadline about his process recently.

“What Cary did, I am doing,” he said. “Write 10-hour movies and go shoot them […] It’s still challenging, because everything I shoot takes place outside for the most part and we’re beholden to the weather and have to force our way through. But at the end of the day, to go to some of these locations where most people have never been, where you’re opening up a new world, and all of these places or characters in the story, to me, it’s fascinating.”

“True Detective” did things similarly, where the characters really opened up over the course of the season. The way they develop on “Yellowstone” is so reminiscent of “True Detective” it’s eerie.

Sheridan continued, “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. 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.”

Taylor Sheridan On His Writing Process

Taylor Sheridan says he doesn’t know how to write television. He writes so much more than television, he creates whole novels for the screen.

“I don’t know how to make a TV show,” Sheridan told Deadline recently. “I don’t have any idea and don’t really care to learn. I don’t do pattern budgeting, or write act breaks into things.

Sheridan has a unique way in that he writes everything on “1883” and “Yellowstone” himself. They’re truly his projects and his projects alone. “I write 10-hour movies, and go shoot them,” he said. “I don’t have a writers room, I’ve written them all myself.”

Because he writes everything himself, the shows have a singular vision: Taylor Sheridan’s vision. He’s able to write what he wants, and create memorable, immersive experiences for viewers. He approaches writing shows like writing novels; it’s a solitary experience, but it produces incredible successes.