Yellowstone’s Young John Dutton Wanted To Play Very Different Role

Yellowstone’s young John Dutton actor Josh Lucas originally wanted to play a very different role in the neo-Western series created by Taylor Sheridan.

Josh Lucas had his eyes set on a different role before he became young John Dutton in Yellowstone. Played by Kevin Costner since the series debuted in 2018, John Dutton III is the patriarch of the Dutton ranch in Montana, a sixth-generation rancher who also became the Governor of his home state in season 5. A widower seeking to hold onto what is his by any means necessary, John has a strained relationship with some of his family members, which include his four children. In seasons 1, 2, and 5 of the neo-Western, elements of John’s past are revealed through flashbacks, in which John is portrayed by Josh Lucas.


While speaking with Deadline, Lucas reveals that the younger version of John shown in the flashbacks was not his first choice for a role on the neo-Western drama series, stating that he had his eyes set on ranch foreman Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) at first. Loyal to John to a fault, Rip is a complicated character with a troubled past who is fiercely protective of his family, of which he became an official member with his marriage to Beth (Kelly Reilly). Lucas reveals that Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan already had Hauser in mind early on in the casting process, leading to Lucas eventually being cast as John in the 1990s flashbacks, a character with its own set of nuances to navigate. Check out what Lucas had to say below:

“I wanted to be in the pilot. In fact, I’ve not said this to people, I really wanted to play Rip. But [Taylor Sheridan] clearly wanted Cole Hauser and it was kinda cool for me because I’ve known Cole since we were like 17, 18 years old.”

Related: Is Kayce Going To Die In Yellowstone Season 5?

Why Young John Dutton Is Essential To Yellowstone

Yellowstone season 5 flashback explained

Lucas’ turn as John has proved extremely successful, showing that Sheridan made the right call with the casting decision. Since his season 5 return, fans of Yellowstone have even called for Lucas to pay the ranch patriarch in a spinoff series set in the 1980s or 1990s to explore that time period in more depth. Given the existence of previous prequels 1883 and 1923, it’s possible that Sheridan would consider the spinoff, though it’s likely that the events of that series would be too close to the modern timeline in Yellowstone.

Even if Sheridan does not create a prequel dedicated to Lucas’ version of the Dutton patriarch, the younger version of John is important to Yellowstone for several reasons. John Dutton III is not exactly an open book, typically exhibiting a tough, no-nonsense persona and going through his life fiercely dedicated to his obligations. However, it took him time to develop into the man that he is in Yellowstone, and Lucas’ charismatic version of the character explores the rougher aspects of his youth that Costner’s version of John would rather not revisit.

It’s clear to viewers from the start that John’s goal is to protect his family and preserve their legacy, a priority that never wavers for the steadfast character. However, gaining more insight into who John was before he had single-mindedly dedicated himself to his role in the Dutton legacy helps viewers understand what is at stake for the character in the present. While Costner brought John to life for the first time, Lucas makes the modern cowboy more accessible and human, making him an essential facet of Yellowstone.

More: Yellowstone’s Timothy Reynolds Tribute Explained

Source: Deadline

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