Why the Ensemble Cast of ‘Yellowstone’ Should Win at the 2022 SAG Awards

Article Image
Photo Source: Courtesy Paramount Network

As we prepare for the 28th Screen Actors Guild Awards, Backstage is breaking down this year’s film and television ensemble work for your consideration. For more voting guides and roundups, we’ve got you covered here

Main cast: Kelsey Asbille, Wes Bentley, Ryan Bingham, Gil Birmingham, Ian Bohen, Eden Brolin, Kevin Costner, Hugh Dillon, Luke Grimes, Hassie Harrison, Cole Hauser, Jen Landon, Finn Little, Brecken Merrill, Will Patton, Piper Perabo, Kelly Reilly, Denim Richards, Taylor Sheridan, Forrie J. Smith, Jefferson White
Casting by: John Papsidera
Created by: Taylor Sheridan and John Linson
Distributed by: Paramount Network

Taylor Sheridan’s Paramount Network drama “Yellowstone” is such an audience hit for the same reason that its cast has received a coveted Screen Actors Guild Award ensemble nomination: It’s a veritable feast for all its actors. The stars of this modern Western get to take big swings—emotionally, psychologically, and, given the show’s cowboy focus, physically—without sacrificing entertainment value.

And entertaining it is, after four seasons of dramatic twists and cliffhangers. Award-winning star Kevin Costner leads the cast as John Dutton, an alternately kindhearted and brutal patriarch who owns Montana’s Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. Ongoing threats to John’s land, including developers, local Native American communities, and even the titular National Park let us see a character who’s constantly asking himself how low he’s willing to sink. As he straddles the genres of twisty family drama and old-fashioned Western, Costner’s character is the moral heart of “Yellowstone,” operating somewhere between nobly righteous man and antihero.

But following the literally explosive events of the Season 3 finale, it’s John’s children who are now taking center stage. Kelly Reilly, as the brilliant but depraved Beth, takes her character’s family loyalty to the limit in the show’s fourth season (which begins with her emerging from the wreckage, looking almost bored as she lights a cigarette). It’s clearer than ever that she’ll do anything—and step on anyone—to attain power: climate activist Summer (Piper Perabo), snappy CEO Caroline (Jacki Weaver), and her brother Jamie (Wes Bentley). Theirs is perhaps current TV’s most intense love-hate sibling relationship. 

When Beth’s ruthlessness goes too far, Reilly and Costner generate electrifying chemistry within the rift between father and daughter. Meanwhile, opposite Cole Hauser’s tough yet big-hearted ranch foreman Rip, the typically heartless Beth becomes devoted and romantic. 

Luke Grimes’ Kayce, the youngest and most loyal of John’s children, continues to seek healing for his post-traumatic stress disorder with the help of Native American practices. His scenes opposite Kelsey Asbille as his wife, Monica, and Brecken Merrill as his son, Tate, are what keep us rooting for this family no matter how messy things get. 

As Jamie, Bentley takes audiences on a true roller-coaster ride. Particularly opposite Will Patton as (spoiler alert) his murderous biological father Garrett, he excels at conveying how lost and beaten down by circumstance his character is. Whereas the other Duttons project tough-guy facades, Jamie is all raw insecurity; it makes Bentley’s performance endlessly watchable.

Ultimately, what makes “Yellowstone” so riveting, and its cast so worthy of award recognition, is its handling of conflict both within and without. Individually, each of these characters must grapple with protecting themselves in a dog-eat-dog world; together, they collide and reunite, alternately hurting and forgiving each other. With the prequel “1883” and spinoff “6666” underway, it’s clear that audiences are hooked on the world Sheridan and his cast have created.

Want more? Stay in the loop with everything you need to know this awards season right here!