“Our family ranch has informed ‘Yellowstone’ in many ways,” cites co-creator Taylor Sheridan in a revealing 2020 interview, “but losing it was the biggest one.”
If you know Sheridan, then you know he’s a true-to-life cowboy. From his #1 cable drama, “Yellowstone,” featuring all of his personal horses, to his acclaimed 2017 hit “Wind River” delving deep into the plight of Native Americans, Sheridan has made his upbringing his life’s work. Or is it the other way around?
“When you write, it’s always of an autobiographical nature,” the prolific Hollywooder states outright. Such is the case tenfold for “Yellowstone,” of which Sheridan has poured his whole self into. Sheridan’s family ranch sold 30 years ago in 1991, right after his parent’s divorce. He was at Texas State University, San Marcos at the time. And if the Dutton’s deadly fight to keep their family ranch isn’t enough on an indicator – Sheridan was deeply scarred by this loss.
“I don’t think Taylor spoke to me for a year,” says Susan Drew, Taylor’s mother. In their interview with Texas Highways, Susan explains she couldn’t run the ranch alone, and it was time to move on. Taylor, however, wasn’t interested in moving on. And “Yellowstone” shows he may never be.
“I’m deeply influenced by where I grew up and how I grew up,” Sheridan added at the time by phone, actively filming his hit show in Montana.
‘Yellowstone’s Taylor Sheridan: ‘Our Generation’s Greatest Western Storyteller’
The proof is in the pudding, too, as “Yellowstone” is far from his only Western triumph. The aforementioned “Wind River,” 2017, closes out his “neo-Western” trilogy that began with “Sicario” in 2015 and continued on with “Hell or High Water” the year between. Through this triple crown, Esquire declared Taylor Sheridan “our generation’s greatest Western storyteller” in 2018, Texas Highways cites, paving a perfect path for “Yellowstone” to take the world by storm over the course of three seasons prior. It’s a fitting honor, too, for a man inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2020.
“We didn’t depend on our ranch for income,” Sheridan continues within. His father was a Fort Worth cardiologist, so money was never the issue at hand.
“But it’s where I learned how to become a cowboy,” he then laments of his family’s Bosque Ranch. Today, his production company bares the same name, continuing on a legacy he’ll never let die.
It’s a fitting tribute for a man whose first job was as a cattle rancher at 14-years-old. There, Sheridan made $400 a month alongside a bunk he could call his own. Something tells us many of the Yellowstone Ranch bunkhouse stories come from memories, all still fresh.
Instead, Sheridan grew up on a 214-acre Texas paradise west of Waco. There, the future Hollywood icon would learn to ride, tend, and appreciate horses. Couple this with a childhood also spent shooting guns and his “double life” as an actor in school, and you have the recipe for a man who would one day create the best damn modern Western this side of anywhere.