As “Yellowstone” Season Five and “Tulsa King” approach their premieres on Paramount Network and Paramount+ this weekend, another Taylor Sheridan series is on the horizon. Enter “1923,” Sheridan’s second “Yellowstone” spinoff after “1883.” “1923” picks up forty years after the events of “1883,” with a new couple leading the Dutton family in Montana. What happens to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s James and Margaret Dutton will be revealed in “1923,” but it’s not their show. Instead, this one belongs to Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren, who plays Jacob Dutton, James’ brother, and his wife Cara, respectively.
As per usual, the “Yellowstone” universe remains all about family, which Vanity Fair documents in their first look at the upcoming series. But expect the Dutton family’s ruthlessness to be at the forefront of this series. “You’re very close to the bone here,” Ford said about the prequel series. “The story is told in a very honest and straightforward way. There’s no apology for what becomes necessary to do. There’s a very strong moral context that’s frangible.” And expect the ethics of this generation of the Dutton family to be even more brittle than usual, thanks to the imminent Great Depression. “The Duttons live by a code of behavior that they set for themselves, and it requires complicated moral and ethical judgment,” Ford continued. “It’s not just the physical life that’s hard…the upcoming Depression and all of the pressures, economic and social, are leading up to this very volatile time in American history.”
Both Ford and Mirren understood the intense bond they had to portray between each other to make “1923” work. “They’ve been married a long time,” said Mirren. “They haven’t had children, so they haven’t had the sense of children holding them together. That really is what it becomes, isn’t it?” Mirren says. “An incredible partnership where you can be honest with each other, and your love and support of each other is total, but at the same time, you are no longer blinded by love or by lust. You’re much more clear-eyed about your relationship, but the relationship becomes all the stronger for that very reason.” Ford added: “Their lives are totally wrapped up in each other. There’s very little that sustains them other than themselves and the hard work and investment they put into their future and their family. It is a tough life, and it’s full of not just physical challenges but moral ones as well.”
There are other new faces on the Dutton ranch that must rise to this era’s challenges. James Badge Dale plays John Dutton Sr, just a little boy in “1883” who’s now a middle-aged manager at the ranch with Ford’s Uncle Jacob. Marley Shelton plays his wife Emma, while Darren Mann is Jack, their son, who’s the great-grandfather of Kevin Costner’s character on “Yellowstone.” Other supporting roles in “1923” include Michelle Randolph’s Elizabeth Strafford, who wants to marry Jack, and Brian Geraghty’s Zane, a loyal foreman on the ranch. There are characters beyond the Dutton ranch, too. Aminah Nieves plays Teonna; a Native American woman forced to attend a government-run boarding school. Meanwhile, Jerome Flynn leads “the sheep men” as Banner Creighton, a Scottish shepherd who serves as this series’ big bad.
“1923” depicts the Dutton at a fragile time in their lineage, where this generation is not as wealthy as Costner’s in “Yellowstone.” “They can lose it all in a season,” Ford said. “They’re up against weather, the economy, the influx of railroads, and the change in the cattle business. It’s a complicated time. It’s a volatile time. They are land-rich, but they are cash-poor because everything is put back into the business, into the ranch. Everything is hard fought for. I don’t think of them as rich. I think of them as having a degree of power based on their historical presence in the area based on hard work.” But with the era’s complications come the chance for progress, highlighting Mirren’s performance as Cara. “There is a recognition, especially I think from Cara, that change is coming, and you have got to change with it. You’ve got to,” Mirren said. “You’ve got to learn; you can’t imagine that things will go on forever the way they were. She has the ability to adapt, to change.”
But how will the story of this generation of the Duttons end? Ford shared a foreboding thought. “A lot of America seems to be, in my mind, unfinished business,” said the actor. “This is a story about the development of the country—and the nature and personality of this country is very much a product of the circumstances of this period of time.” What unfinished business will Ford and Mirren face as their Jacob and Cara Dutton? Find out when “1923” premieres on Paramount+ on December 18. Take a peek at the first-look pics from the series below.