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How Yellowstone's Improvised Scenes Takes Things Beyond The Script To Bring Audiences The Show They Love

"Yellowstone" is riding into its Season 5 following a dramatic Season 4 that revealed a big departure and the aftermath of that explosive Season 3 finale which included assassination attempts on John Dutton (Kevin Costner), his daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly), and his son Kayce (Luke Grimes). The neo-Western follows the Dutton family, who is constantly at war with outside entities trying to claim a piece of the large Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. While the fight over land is a central part of "Yellowstone," the Duttons add extra depth and drama with their complicated relationships that could significantly impact the family's legacy. It's a legacy that is being greatly explored in prequel spin-offs "1883" and soon "1923" and "6666."

The popular series is known for its intense action scenes, larger-than-life characters, and gorgeous Montana landscape. None of this could come to life without writer and co-creator Taylor Sheridan. But there's one ingredient that is helping give the series an extra special touch, and it's something that's not even written into the show.

The off-script moments that add extra depth to what's on the page

According to some "Yellowstone" cast members, Taylor Sheridan seems to approve of the actors going off script from time to time. Jefferson White, who plays ranch hand Jimmy Hurdstrom, told Deadline that fans can see that improvisation while the cowhands are in the bunkhouse. "We get to riff and depart from the script. He knows how to take that improvisation and shape it on the day and in the editing room to create atmosphere he was writing toward," he said.

But it's not just the cowhands that get to show off their improv skills. David Cleveland Brown, who played Beth's assistant Jason during the show's first two seasons, told Outsider that improvisation added some extra depth to an interaction he has with the Dutton family's patriarch. "One scene I had with [Kevin] Costner, I reach my hand to shake his, which wasn't in the script. I thought it would be fun since I know his next line was basically rejecting me. My little addition made it in," he said.

While they enjoy improvising as needed, Luke Grimes explained to Deadline that Sheridan likes to keep the show's future trajectory close to the vest. "He knows where the show is going and how it ends but he's not going to tell us. That's the joy..." Season 5 of "Yellowstone" kicks off with a two-hour premiere on November 13, 2022, on the Paramount Network.