Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren Star in ‘1923’

One of TV's most popular franchises hitches its wagon to two megastars, as Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford lead a new Yellowstone prequel

One of TV’s most popular franchises hitches its wagon to two megastars, as Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford lead a new Yellowstone prequel

As it continues expanding across the TV landscape like so many Old West frontiersmen, the Yellowstone franchise is turning to the past… again. 1923 starts its run this Sunday, with Harrison Ford and Oscar-, Emmy- and Tony-winner Helen Mirren playing Jacob and Cara Dutton, who head another division of the family introduced in Yellowstone and its first prequel, 1883. The forebears of Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone patriarch John Dutton face illness and drought as they edge into a tumultuous new era shaped by Prohibition, another boom in Western expansion, and the Great Depression (which hit Montana much earlier than most U.S. states). The Taylor Sheridan-created series has a second season of eight episodes, the same length as season one, already ordered. 

1923Paramount+Being filmed principally in Montana, 1923 is “a wonderful adventure” in Mirren’s view. “I’d never been to Montana before, so that’s been a revelation,” the actress says. “I knew it was impossibly beautiful, but the size and the variety of it is extraordinary. Doing this kind of story in this kind of landscape, where they are intrinsically tied together, is an amazing experience. The geography of America has always fascinated me, and these [characters] are dealing with all the glories and difficulties inherent in that.” 

The large, accomplished ensemble of 1923 also includes James Badge Dale (The Pacific), Timothy Dalton (Penny Dreadful), Robert Patrick (Scorpion), Jennifer Ehle (Contagion), Darren Mann (Animal Kingdom), Brandon Sklenar (Mapplethorpe), Marley Shelton (Scream), Brian Geraghty (Big Sky) and Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones).  

1923Paramount+Mirren reports that rather than being too detailed about her role in his pitch, creator-producer Sheridan gave her “a sense of, ‘Do you want to come on this ride?’ We don’t know where the ride’s going to take us, and I found that really interesting and exciting.” 

Meanwhile, Mirren previously worked with Ford in 1986 movie The Mosquito Coast. She recalls that as “a great time, then we went off and did other things and lived a whole life, really. There’s been a connection that has never been lost, though… so when we came together again, there was an incredible sense of familiarity and affection and history. That’s invaluable if you’re playing husband and wife.” 

Though Mirren is no stranger to the small screen, thanks largely to her Emmy-winning work on the U.K.’s Prime Suspect, she considers 1923 a new sort of TV experience. 

“I’ve never done something like this before,” she maintains. “With Prime Suspect, we would do one four-hour story about every two years, so it was more like a miniseries. It wasn’t something ongoing like this is, though how far we’ll go is a mystery to me. I have to say that Taylor is an extraordinary writer; this springs with such complexity, but at the same time, it’s incredibly accessible. It’s not high-falutin’, but very playable, great writing.” 

New episodes of 1923 premiere Sundays on Paramount+