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1923's Helen Mirren Believes Faith Carries Cara Dutton

The most recent "Yellowstone" spinoff is "1923," which takes place a couple decades after the events of another spinoff, "1883." "1923," also created by Taylor Sheridan, stars Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford as Cara and Jacob Dutton, a married couple without children who have raised Jacob's nephews John (James Badge Dale) and Spencer (Brandon Sklenar). As for the show's connection to the larger "Yellowstone" storyline, Jacob is the brother of James Dutton from "1883" (portrayed by Tim McGraw). Throughout the series, the characters face various hardships such as Prohibition and drought, as well as the earliest stage of the Great Depression.

As fans of the show know, Cara is a complex and strong character. Despite being a woman in a time that has barely given women the right to vote, Cara holds her own next to her husband, Jacob. At one point in the series, she even takes family matters into her own hands by representing Jacob (who, at this point, is severely wounded) at a meeting for local cattle owners, ultimately convincing them to agree to the formation of a police force that will oversee the ranch war lawfully. From taking care of her family to facing whatever hardships come their way, Cara remains strong throughout.

According to Mirren, who portrays Cara, the character's strength partly comes down to one thing: faith. Here's what Mirren has to say about the role that faith plays in her portrayal of Cara.

Mirren believes that Cara has faith even if it's not explicitly stated

In a January 2023 interview with Us Weekly, Mirren opened up about the backstory that she came up with for her "1923" character, Cara Dutton. Firstly, Mirren plays Cara as an Irish woman, which led to another key detail for the character: determining her religion.

Mirren explained, "I play her Irish, and because she's Irish I think she has faith. I think she's a Christian, a Catholic, and I think she has carried that faith with her." Despite making this decision, Mirren made another decision that Cara wouldn't advertise it in any way. The actress continued, "She doesn't advertise it, it's not a big thing, you know. I wanted to have a little crucifix up on the set but I said, 'it's got to be really small, so you notice it if you notice it, if you don't notice it, it's fine.' But it's just a little indication of where Cara's faith is, so I do think she's a woman of faith."

However, Mirren doesn't believe that Cara's faith defines her, which fans of the show would likely agree with — after all, Mirren showcases the character's depths. Mirren continued, "At the same time she's practical, she's down to earth and she's realistic."

Mirren praises Sheridan for writing strong female characters

In December of 2022, Helen Mirren spoke with Vanity Fair to discuss her involvement in "1923," which, at the time, had newly premiered. During the discussion, Mirren revealed that, prior to working on "1923," she had never liked Westerns because of the way that women were portrayed. Mirren explained, "They always had breasts [on display] in...awful dresses. Either [they were] nice school teachers or the tart with the heart—you know, the madam of the brothel who really looks after everyone."

But, Mirren believes that "1923" and the other "Yellowstone" stories are an exception to this — and she credited Sheridan for creating more dynamic female characters than often show up in Westerns. Mirren said, "[Sheridan] creates absolutely great female characters without it being sort of self-conscious. They are naturally within the story."

Mirren had signed on for "1923" without reading a script after discussing the potential series with Sheridan, who insisted he needed to write for the actors he cast, and after being blown away by "1883." So, when she finally got the script, she was relieved to see that Cara was not sidelined and that she was just as strong a character as Jacob. Mirren said, "You see Cara having to take control of situations," says Mirren, before speaking about the real-life women who inspired her character. "Women's contribution to survival, it is so enormous and it's never really sufficiently recognized. Women like Cara, they're on a kind of a frontline of a war as well. It's a war against the elements, but women are great at survival."