Yes. That’s why God made Advil. Were you a fan of the Western genre before Yellowstone?
I’ve been a fan since I can remember. I love all Westerns, even Giant [a 1956 epic film starring James Dean]. Those kinds of Westerns, to the Spaghetti Westerns, to the old American and Hispanic Westerns. I’m a film historian when it comes to Westerns, so I love it.
I wanted to ask you about Rip’s relationship with Beth on Yellowstone. It’s such a contrast between Beth’s relationship with everyone else. Why do you think Rip has such a special place in Beth’s hardened heart?
There’s obviously a huge history between the two of them. Rip and Beth have known each other since he was an orphan child at the age of 12. Every person has that soulmate, that person who’s kind of the yin to their yang. The way I’ve tried to portray Rip with her is he’s not interested in butting heads. He has a way of breaking down her seriousness or anger or emotion with either kindness or love. Those are the things that make them special.
Yes. Because if you guys went head-to-head, that could get ugly.
Yes. For example, when she gets pissed off, I start laughing at her. [laughs] It’s like, “Okay, honey.”
Well, that first episode, she was really mean to you. You just walked away. You looked at her and walked away.
Yes. I’m like, “I don’t need your shit. See you later.”
That totally disarms her.
How do you connect to Rip’s backstory? How does your history inform your interpretation of the character?
His backstory has been one that’s been worked on between Taylor and I. Taylor’s imagination and some of my past with my own family and my own father. Taylor has become a really good friend, and he knows a lot about my family and what I’ve gone through. He hasn’t used all of it, but he has used some of it to trigger certain things in me as an actor and also in Rip. Taylor’s done a wonderful job of exploring who Rip is, what gets him going, the blackness in his heart, the red that’s still there. It’s been fun to be able to play those different colors throughout the years.
Rip is such an interesting character because he’s terrifying and heartbreaking at the same time. He can be both things.
Yes, and he has a big, big heart.
But he’s scary too at the same time.
He’s not one you would want to take on, that’s for sure.
Yes, exactly. There’s a lot of “Take ’em to the train station,” “Send Rip” t-shirts and whiskey glasses for sale out there. Are you awed by Yellowstone becoming a cultural phenomenon?
I’ve had that question asked a lot recently, and I’m not so much awed by it. I think when you have a grassroots show like this, that started very small and is built from the interior of the country out, and now it’s finally seemingly hit California and New York, which took many years, then you’ve done it the right way. You’ve taken the stairs versus the elevator. Each year, we’ve taken those steps to really solidify not only our audience, but the love for the show.
Do you have any other projects in the offing right now that you want to tell us about?
Yes. I have many that I have been working on for the last eight, nine months. We’re just going out with a show called Chosin, which is about the Korean War and about the Chosin Reservoir, which is one of the most brutal battles in the history of our country against the Chinese. We’re developing a TV show, and it’ll be shot in Korea. Then, there’s The Westies, which I wrote and am going to direct. It’s about the Irish mob in 1975 until the ’80s, and the rise and fall of their reign in New York, and scaring the shit out of the Italians and the police for a few years. [laughs]