TV Talk: Harrison Ford discusses starring in ‘Yellowstone’ prequel ‘1923’ | Daily News Byte

TV Talk: Harrison Ford discusses starring in ‘Yellowstone’ prequel ‘1923’

 | Daily News Byte


Trib Total Media TV writer Rob Owen offers a viewing tip for the coming week.

Of all the shows Taylor Sheridan has produced — “Yellowstone,” “1883,” “Mayor of Kingstown” — his two latest are the best.

Last month, it was the premiere of the Sylvester Stallone-starring “Tulsa King,” which added some much-needed profanity to the Sheridan-verse.

This month, viewers will get “1923,” a “Yellowstone” prequel (and “1883” sequel), which brings the biggest star power to date: Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren lead the cast.

Streaming Sunday with a one-time linear telecast Sunday night on the Paramount Network after the new “Yellowstone,” “1923” is also the most ambitiously structured of Sheridan’s series efforts.

Instead of following a single, straightforward story, “1923” follows three stories at once that may converge at some point.

In Bozeman, Mont., Yellowstone Ranch patriarch Jacob Dutton (Ford), brother of Tim McGraw’s James Dutton from “1883,” tries to keep the peace while also keeping his herd alive during a drought. His wife Cara (Mirren), whom Jacob refers to as “the boss,” manages the home front, including rife with tensions when nephew Jack (Darren Mann) postpones his wedding to Elizabeth Strafford ( Michelle Randolph) because of a cattle drive. .

Then there’s the story of another Dutton, a veteran haunted by the atrocities of World War I who hunts a predator targeting an African safari near Nairobi, Kenya.

Back in North America, there’s also the story of Teonna (Aminah Nieves), a Native American mistreated by a strict Irish nun (Jennifer Ehle) at a government boarding school.

Paramount+ just made the first episode available for review, and it’s a tense hour of drama with a few moments of levity courtesy of Ford’s trademark, low-key sarcasm. There are also at least two jump scares.

In a virtual interview via Zoom earlier this month, Ford said he decided to act in TV shows for the first time in decades because of writing on both “1923” and his upcoming Apple TV series +, “Retreat” (Jan. 27).

“The material seems unusually good to me in both cases,” said Ford. “And I don’t want to miss the opportunity.”

Ford said he’s busy working in England — likely on the fifth Indiana Jones movie, which hits theaters next year — and hasn’t seen much of “Yellowstone,” but he’s made a point to catch some of “1883.”

“I don’t really want to concentrate on what will happen in the future because (my character) has no knowledge of it — but I will know what happened to my brother and his family (in ‘1883’), what their worked hard to come to Montana,” said Ford. “That hardship is the reason why (Jacob Dutton) feels the level of responsibility that he does for the future of his family. And they are beset with all kinds of issues and problems.

“The drought has produced less grass, there’s competition for that grass between the herdsmen and the cattle,” Ford continued. “Electricity is coming; street cars. His way of life is challenged. And his ranch is directly threatened by what we see.”

Ford says his Jacob Dutton is a complex character “expressed in dramatic events.” Ford sees Jacob’s main quality as determination.

“The way (Taylor) created these characters was really very successful to me, and I hope to be useful in interpreting for him,” Ford said.

Paramount+ is being a little tight-lipped about how long any of these “Yellowstone” spin-offs will run. Nearly a year ago, the service announced there would be “more episodes” of “1883” — no sign of those so far — but stopped short of ordering a second season.

With the involvement of Ford, one of the last remaining movie stars to make TV (Tom Cruise being one of the others), you can think of “1923” as a one-and-done limited series. But not so fast.

“We’ve done eight, and we’re planning to have the opportunity to do another eight,” Ford told me.

“1923” also boasts at least one Pittsburgh connection: Co-star Brian Geraghty, who plays Dutton’s devoted ranch foreman Zane, spent his childhood until age 8 in Mt. Washington at a time when his father was a vice president of marketing for Heinz.

Geraghty didn’t become interested in acting until later in his life, but he remembers seeing a theater in Pittsburgh that made an impression.

“We went and saw a production of ‘Peter Pan’ there, and Sandy Duncan was playing Peter Pan,” Geraghty said. “I remember shouting to the whole audience, ‘I can see the strings! I can see the strings!’ ”

You can reach TV writer Rob Owen at or 412-380-8559. Follow Rob Twitter or Facebook. Ask TV questions by email or phone. Please include your name and location.


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