Screenwriter and director Taylor Sheridan is a unique force in the TV and film world. An artist who has constantly broken the rules of storytelling, he is known for his uncompromising vision and hands-on style of working. He is known for writing films like Sicario, Wind River, and Hell or High Water, all of which have been critically acclaimed.
He is probably best known for the neo-Western TV series Yellowstone and its prequels 1883 and 1923. The show is gearing up for its fifth and final season, the second part of which is set to air later this year. The writer recently spoke about how his life ended up imitating the show’s premise, leading him to secure over $350 million in two weeks.
Taylor Sheridan’s Journey From Acting To Writing
Before Taylor Sheridan made it big as a screenwriter and creator of hit TV shows and films, he was an actor. Sheridan had a recurring role in the crime drama Sons Of Anarchy and was also in a few episodes of Veronica Mars. However, he decided to pursue screenwriting as a career and sold his first screenplay Sicario.
Sicario was directed by Dune director Dennis Villeneuve and starred Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, and Daniel Kaluuya. The film dealt with border tensions between USA and Mexico. It was lauded upon release, with particular appreciation for Taylor Sheridan’s masterful screenwriting.
The writer then came to be known for the TV show Yellowstone, which starred Kevin Costner as an aging ranch owner who has to fight to keep his ranch from falling into the wrong hands. The show received record viewership for the Paramount Network and even got two prequel miniseries centered on the ranch. Sheridan also co-created shows such as Jeremey Runner starrer Mayor of Kingstown, the Sylvester Stallone starrer Tulsa King, and the Morgan Freeman starrer Special Ops: Lioness.
Taylor Sheridan’s Controversial Style Of Working
Taylor Sheridan is known for his uncompromising style of working. He works alone, disregarding the long-standing process of a writer’s room in TV shows. He has had over 60 writing credits on Yellowstone, which is a huge number for the writer who also acts as the showrunner.
His penchant for not using multiple collaborators in the writer’s room is deemed controversial as the Writer’s Guild of America strikes with demands for a mandatory minimum group of writers for scripted television. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the writer talks about his often criticized process,
“My stories have a very simple plot that is driven by the characters as opposed to characters driven by a plot — the antithesis of the way television is normally modeled…when you hire a room that may not be motivated by those same qualities — and a writer always wants to take ownership of something they’re writing — and I give this directive and they’re not feeling it, then they’re going to come up with their own qualities.”
Sheridan has also mentioned that he primarily likes to take care of his ranch, the Four Sixes ranch which appears in the show. He has revealed that his scripted shows are a way to manage his ranch. In fact, Yellowstone got its prequel series 1883 and 1923 so he could buy the 270,000-acre Four Sixes from its original owner.
Taylor Sheridan approached the owners of the family-run Four Sixes ranch to be featured in the show. After her death, fearing that the ranch would be split up (much like the premise of Yellowstone), the estate called up Sheridan to ask if he was interested in buying it. He said,
“I said, ‘How much?’ They said, ‘It’s $350 million.’ And I’m like, ‘I’m about 330 short. But please, you thought enough to call me, will you give me two weeks?’…“I was real rich for 45 minutes. Then I was broke again. That was the trade.”
Taylor Sheridan arranged for the funds after renewing his contract with Paramount Network to produce more shows. While he planned on taking on a supervisor role, he still decided to take on the bulk of the work after the writer’s room did not work out for him.