‘Yellowstone’ TV: The Heartwarming Story Behind How the Actor Who Played John Dutton’s Dad Was Cast

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

Yellowstone has had its fair share of touching moments with the Dutton family. But perhaps one of the most memorable was during the season 2 finale. In the episode, the story flashed back to John Dutton Sr.’s dying day.

During a 2019 interview, writer and producer Taylor Sheridan sat down with Deadline to discuss the show. And during that time, Sheridan revealed that his casting of Dabney Coleman had a heartwarming story behind it.

At the beginning of the episode, we watch John Dutton remember his last moments with his father, John Dutton Sr. In the scene, Kevin Costner whisks his dad from a hospital bed, dresses him in boots and jeans, and they ride off to the Dutton farm. Dutton Sr., who was played by Dabney Coleman, thanks his son for letting him die with his boots on. Then he looks out onto the land and says, “Don’t let ’em take it away from you son, not a goddam inch.”

Dabney Coleman is an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor who started working in Hollywood back in the early 1960s. He’s most known for his role in the 1982 film Tootsie. And more recently he starred as Commodore Louis Kaestner in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire

Why Taylor Sheridan Cast Dabney Coleman

When Deadline asked Sheridan why he chose to cast Coleman in Yellowstone, he said it was because years ago he worked with Coleman as a “young pup,” and Sheridan never forgot Coleman’s kindness.

While Taylor Sheridan was preparing to film a movie in New Mexico, Dabney Coleman reached out to him, hoping they could work together. Sheridan had already written the season 2 ender of his show, but he hadn’t gotten around to filling the part of John Dutton Sr.

I had worked with Dabney many, many years ago, almost 20 years ago, as one of the young pups,” Sheridan recalled. “He’s a Texas guy and was such a gifted, giving actor and I was really struck by how good he was, and how kind he was, to this kid who was guest starring on his deal.”

Taylor Sheridan said he’s hired a lot of actors who were good to him in the past, including Buck Taylor. So, it was an easy choice to cast Coleman in his newest hit series. “I put him [Coleman] in Yellowstone,” he said. “There’s something about that show that lends itself to hiring friends and family.”

Watch Season 4 of Yellowstone

Two years and three Emmy nods later, Yellowstone is about to premiere its 4th season. And after a long and painful wait, the creators finally dropped a new trailer.

The season 4 premiere debuts on Sunday, November 7th.