Over the past few years, Taylor Sheridan’s incredibly popular drama series “Yellowstone” and its various spinoffs have earned a reputation as some of the most demanding and physically exhausting shows on television. To ensure that each actor can safely and accurately portray life on the Dutton ranch, the entire cast is required to go through a grueling training program called “cowboy camp” — which teaches the actors the basics of horseback riding, cattle wrangling, and other aspects of ranch work.
This intensive program has earned mixed reviews from various members of the “Yellowstone” franchise, with some — like “1923’s” Julia Schlaepfer – fondly comparing the experience to summer camp, and others bemoaning the program’s difficulty. Even once you’re past cowboy camp, working on the actual shows themselves can still take an extreme physical toll on the actors — as was the case with “Yellowstone” actor Jefferson White, who earned permanent scars from his time spent on horseback.
In the case of “1923” star Brandon Sklenar, who plays Spencer Dutton, the intense swimming scenes he had to perform alongside Schlaepfer stuck out to him as the most difficult aspect of the entire show and some of the most difficult stunts of his career.
Sklenar says the swimming scenes were the most demanding scenes of his life
While speaking to Jen Landon on “The Official Yellowstone Podcast” about his role as Spencer Dutton in “1923,” Brandon Sklenar gave some insight into the shooting of Episode 6’s harrowing scene aboard a capsized tugboat. The scene saw Spencer and his fianceé Alexandra (Julia Schlaepfer) fighting for their lives within the flooding ship and eventually forcing their way to the top of its overturned hull — an experience which Sklenar says was the most difficult thing he’s done in his career.
“Episode 6, all the swimming — man, that was tough. That was definitely the toughest thing I’ve done on a project hands down,” Sklenar explained. “I mean one of the toughest things I’ve done in general. I’m in pretty decent shape and we swam a lot going into to that and it was hard because the water was cold and it was pretty chilly outside and what ends up being in the show is a few minutes but we did that for four days.”
The extremely taxing nature of this scene is evident on screen as Spencer fights against the rapidly flooding cabin and pulls Alexandra to safety, nearly drowning in the process. Still, it’s certainly interesting to know just how difficult these stunts were behind the scenes, and perhaps some fans will have a greater appreciation for the tugboat ordeal knowing how just how extreme the shooting conditions actually were.