Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Yellowstone's Tate Dutton Recalls Kevin Costner's Impactful Words In Season 1

Few things in TV and film are more heartwarming than the portrayal of a grandparent's love for their grandchild. "Yellowstone" rancher John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and his grandson Tate (Brecken Merrill) are certainly no exception.

Since 2018, the masses have tuned in to Taylor Sheridan and John Linson's western drama for their weekly helping of sweet moments between them. Amid violence, murder, and battles for land, a huge plotline of "Yellowstone" is John's growing connection with Tate, whose early years he missed out on.

Ultimately, John wants to be a better guardian to Tate than he was for his own son, Kayce (Luke Grimes). He can often be found preparing Tate to someday take over the family's Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. Whether he's teaching Tate the art of hunting or how to care for horses properly, John diligently works to impart his decades of knowledge.

Simultaneously, he's a doting grandfather. A particularly adorable scene is when he gives Tate permission to have the biggest donut and even shows him how to sort the pastries by size to ensure he selects the best one. And, of course, when enemies kidnap Tate, a distraught John does all in his power to get him back.

For Merrill, landing the role of Tate on "Yellowstone" was his big break into the industry. In 2022, he appeared on two episodes of "This Is Us" as Teen Nicky Jr. and, according to IMDB, is set to star in a forthcoming project entitled "We All Got Up to Dance." Merrill is expanding his horizons as an actor, largely thanks to an impactful conversation with Costner while filming "Yellowstone" Season 1.

Kevin Costner helped Brecken Merrill realize he wanted to seriously pursue acting

Over the course of his multi-decade career, Kevin Costner has built quite an impressive resume, starring in 1989's "Field of Dreams" and 1992's "The Bodyguard," just to name a few projects. Despite being an acclaimed name in Hollywood, Costner wasn't above imparting some wisdom on a then-9-year-old Brecken Merrill while filming "Yellowstone" Season 1, not unlike how John does with Tate.

In an interview with ET, Merrill recalled a particularly frigid day on set that changed his life forever: "Kevin [Costner] says, 'Do you really, like, wanna do this? Is this what you really wanna do?' I thought about it for the next month, and he kind of guided me to that area of, yeah, this is what I wanna do. This is my career. This is my passion. It's super cold. It's zero degrees, but I'm loving it. I wanna be here. I just wanna thank Kevin. I'm so blessed to work with such an amazing cast."

Once Merrill decided he wanted to be in the business for the long haul, Costner refrained from treating him like a child. Instead, he saw Merrill as a professional colleague and held him to high standards. Merrill recalled to Morning in America how, one time, he called cut, not realizing that's something an actor can't do. Everyone laughed except for Costner, who Merrill said, "was confused why I called cut. And he just treated me as a peer more than just a little kid."

Still, Costner isn't too hard on his fictional grandson. In the same interview, Merrill revealed another vital piece of advice given to him by Costner: "Just to be yourself, don't take anything too seriously and just have fun, really."