An Inside Look at the Fifth Season of ‘Yellowstone’

Wes Bentley offers viewers an inside look at the fifth season of Yellowstone

Man of Montana

It is perhaps no surprise that Wes Bentley has a love/hate relationship with his Yellowstone character Jamie Dutton. Adopted into the Dutton family as a child, Jamie’s relationship with his de facto father John (Kevin Costner) has in recent years deteriorated, after his actions nearly caused the Duttons to lose the family ranch. But sharing secrets with a journalist he then had to eliminate is probably one of the least duplicitous things Jamie has done, in terms of causing irreparable harm. “He’s so intriguing,” the actor admits. “I dread playing him and I also love playing him. It’s the hardest role I’ve ever had to tackle.” 

For the 44-year-old actor, the challenge to inhabit this character was there from the start. “It took a lot of difficult work because you’re really tearing stuff apart inside yourself,” says Bentley, who finds Jamie hard not to bring home. “I’ve got a family that I love and I’m very different with them when I’m playing Jamie, because Jamie’s taking it over. He’s more negative than me, more despondent, more raw.”YellowstoneParamount NetworkBut exploring a character as complex as Jamie Dutton is also why he loves Taylor Sheridan’s western drama. “This is what I dreamed of as an actor—to play complicated, difficult, remarkable characters. But I also dread it because it really weighs heavy,” he explains. “I used to tell directors: ‘I will try to cry. If it comes, it comes, right?’ But now it happens even when I’m not expecting it. It just feels like every scene I have is something else that just shatters him, especially when it comes to the family.”  YellowstoneParamount NetworkAnd what a family it is. When we left the Duttons in season four, Beth (Kelly Reilly) had forced her brother into killing his biological father, Garrett Randall (Will Patton), for attempting to assassinate the entire Dutton clan in season three. To top it off, Beth managed to document the murder, making Jamie her pawn going forward. “That’s killed any sense of reconciliation and love he had left for Beth, and now he has his own hatred for her, to match hers for him,” says Bentley.  YellowstoneParamount NetworkAs the Dutton siblings crumble, the actors that portray them find joy in digging deep. “Somewhere inside, you feel like they love each other; like, they must care about each other if they’re this passionate to hurt each other,” the actor says of Jamie’s relationship with Beth. “Playing with Kelly is amazing. We trust each other so much. We love each other and by doing that we’re able to go as far as we can in the scene and know that we’re safe. I think it helps the audience feel like it’s really dangerous.” 

His relationship with John, now the newly elected governor of Montana, is equally fraught. “Him taking the governorship after decades of hating on politicians and governments and authority of any kind—now Jamie knows that he’s a hypocrite and a man that has no idea what to do in the modern time and how to save his own ranch,” says Bentley. “It loses the veneer of invincibility that Jamie sees in John. He doesn’t seem as much the threat as he did before. All this is while Jamie’s boiling with anger. He can’t do anything about it yet because he is under their thumb, but he is waiting for his moment and he’s going to strike.” YellowstoneParamount NetworkUntil that opportunity arises, Jamie is stuck trying to be civil. “He has to try and help John, as the governor, not mess everything up and keep the state together,” says Bentley. “He’s trying to do his part while underneath he is full of the rage that he can’t act on. It’s what I love about Jamie, playing those two things in the same scene, sometimes.” His percolating resentment is also likely to affect his relationship with the rest of the family, as a dramatic event in the season premiere promises to shake up the Duttons’ lives once again. “These terrible events have bonded some of them, because they do comfort each other, oddly and in weird ways, and they do have love with each other,” he says, adding, “but never with Jamie.” YellowstoneParamount PlusThe show that once felt like a secret is now a full-on phenomenon. Bentley credits Sheridan for creating a world that it seems no one can resist. “He knows how to bring people in, and it’s been fascinating to watch. It’s just gotten bigger and bigger. The poetry he writes with is enthralling for all Americans and for the world. But I think the family dynamic is probably what brings everybody together. We can all identify with that. Maybe not this level of family drama, but we all understand.” While danger like this can spell the end of a character without warning, Bentley hopes his Yellowstone journey will go on for some time. “I love seeing this out,” he says. “I don’t know how long that is—that’s all in Taylor’s hands—but I am certainly invested as long as they want me.”  

New episodes of Yellowstone are available to stream each Sunday on Paramount+