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Breaking Barriers: How Brandon Sklenar Overcame Social Anxiety and Dyslexia to Shine as Spencer Dutton in ‘1923’

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“1923” actor Brandon Sklenar is opening up about his experiences with anxiety, dyslexia and more before he was cast on the show.

Yellowstone fans can’t seem to get enough of the Dutton family. The Paramount Network show has already led to hit spin-offs 1883 and its sequel 1923. The Western drama series all feature character-driven stories that bring audiences into a different world. But for 1923 actor Brandon Sklenar could play Spencer Dutton, he had a few personal challenges to overcome first.

Brandon Sklenar’s audition for ‘1923’

Prior to 1923, Sklenar had already made TV guest appearances on shows like New Girl and Westworld. But despite 1923 being his first main role on TV, the actor revealed he found auditioning for the show to be “the smoothest [he’s] ever experienced.” Here’s what he told Esquire about how he landed the role of Spencer Dutton.

“I was backpacking in Oregon and Washington for three weeks,” the actor said, adding, “I was in a place at the time where I wasn’t feeling great about acting in general.”

Though things were tough for Sklenar, he made a plan to try and improve his mindset. “I wasn’t giving up or anything, but I was doing 75 self-tapes a week, and it was just too much. I was like, I’m going to go into the woods for a while and connect with nature and just forget about all this stuff for a minute. Of course, in the thick of that, I get the call. Two weeks later, they said, “Oh, you’re going to Jackson Hole tomorrow to test with Taylor.”

Sklenar also told Esquire he had wanted to work with series creator Taylor Sheridan for years. Prior to creating Yellowstone in 2018, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker wrote films like Sicario and Hell or High Water. He also made his directorial feature debut with the 2017 thriller Wind River.

What Brandon Sklenar overcame to reach his dream of acting

In his interview with Esquire, Sklenar also discussed the journey that led him to acting in the first place. The actor revealed that, while he long had aspirations of being an actor, he had to work through some of his own personal challenges to really pursue a career in acting.


“I just loved just building these characters that weren’t necessarily me,” he said, adding, “I used that as a technique in school.”

The actor continued, “I had a lot of social anxiety when I was a little kid — and I had severe dyslexia and a really bad stutter. I probably used that in some way to try to fit in. And in doing so, you didn’t fit in at all, because you’re just this weird kid who’s pretending to be somebody else. No one else is really doing that for days on end. But yeah, in conjunction with just loving films and being able to be taken away by something like that? You can just disappear in a story. It’s so cathartic and therapeutic.”

Given how much of a fan favorite Sklenar is with fans, his performance as Spencer Dutton proves just how far he’s come in his career thus far. And with 1923 Season 2 coming soon, the actor will likely only continue that success going forward.

How Brandon Sklenar was inspired by a Peter Dinklage movie

Sklenar’s turn as Spencer Dutton might perhaps inspire the next generation of stars. Likewise, Sklenar found inspiration in a number of places, including an underrated comedy/drama starring Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage.

“I just loved movies growing up. I had pretty much free reign of watching whatever I wanted, which was cool. HBO was llike my playground. I was watching Oz when I was six and The Sopranos. I remember seeing HBO film The Station Agent with Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale, and Michelle Williams just two houses next to my grandmother’s house where I grew up. That was my first experience of a film set. So I was renting all these films and deep-diving into everything.”

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