The post contains spoilers for “Yellowstone.”
One of the things fans love about “Yellowstone” is the drama. Sure, the action and fighting and intrigue are excellent, and they certainly keep folks coming back week to week — but there’s nothing like good drama that truly works. “Yellowstone” has that in spades, and the reason why it hits so hard lies in its characters.
Wes Bentley’s Jamie is one of the best sources of drama within the show, especially considering his rough past with his sister Beth, not to mention his own personal demons to reckon with as a Dutton. Things are and have been tough for Jamie, and Bentley has mentioned on multiple occasions that his character’s life lingers with him off-camera.
“I’ve prided myself for most of my career on leaving it at the door, or like an athlete would say, leaving it on the field,” the actor told The New York Times in January 2023. “But Jamie’s sadness permeates my life, even though I’m not sad. I’m very lucky to have a great family and be where I’m at in life, but he’s always there behind me, clawing at that, especially when I’m shooting.”
The “American Horror Story” alum also revealed that his wife sometimes has to highlight when he lets the character linger too much inside himself. “‘You’re letting him come home now,” his wife tells him, according to The New York Times. “‘Jamie’s coming home and we don’t want him here.'”
Wrestling the sadness
There are a lot of tragic moments in Jamie’s life, there’s no denying that. Kelly Reilly’s Beth holds a lot of vitriol for her brother from when he tried to help her get an abortion during her childhood — which turned out to include forced sterilization as part of the procedure. He knew this and took her anyway, keeping her in the dark for years after. In another shocker, Bentley’s character discovers in season 3 that Kevin Costner’s John Dutton is not his biological father, years into his own adulthood.
In the days following his New York Times profile, Bentley told The Hollywood Reporter that his character isn’t ever truly gone from his psyche, especially when shooting is around the corner. He explained:
“It took a good month and a half, I guess, for me to feel like I really shook him this time. And lately, I have not felt that way [about his sadness] — I had a nice vacation! But because we still talk about it, it hasn’t dragged me back in there. It may be different because of where Jamie is at. It doesn’t feel like he is ever that far away, because we are gearing up again [for filming the second half of season five] now.”
More than sadness
The actor also noted that it isn’t always depressing to be Jamie. In fact, the dynamics have changed a bit in season 5, especially between Jamie and his family, and thus Bentley’s headspace has also shifted. He told THR, “It may be just that Jamie is feeling a bit differently, that this time feels a bit different. The shaking off, like I said, was more of an adrenaline power rush this time than it was the season before, where it was just this sadness. That was really difficult and more difficult for me to get through than probably this was.”
Jamie has been making major moves in season 5 of “Yellowstone,” including a major betrayal of his family at the hands of new antagonists Market Equities, who want some of the Dutton land to build malls and other economic boosters, where he rallies for his father’s impeachment. Plus, he and Beth are majorly at odds because of that choice, and even seem to be gearing up to take one another out. It’s definitely a departure from Jamie’s usual space for introspection, but either way you slice it, Bentley is just about as close to his character as any excellent actor can be.
Part two of season 5 of “Yellowstone” is set to premiere in summer 2023.