Yellowstone prequel 1923: Everything we know so far

Harrison Ford as Jacob Dutton stands with a horse on 1923 Yellowstone prequel
(Image credit: Paramount Plus)

Travel West and back in time to 1923 in a new Yellowstone prequel that continues to the story of the Dutton family's ownership of their ranch throughout the decades. 

The original Yellowstone series focuses on Kevin Costner's John Dutton III, the sixth-generation patriarch to oversee the large, prosperous ranch. He is carrying on a legacy started by ancestors James and Margaret Dutton, whose founding of the ranch is chronicled in the first Yellowstone prequel 1883.  

1923 sees a different generation of Duttons — patriarch Jacob (Harrison Ford) and matriarch Cara (Helen Mirren) — running the ranch in the early twentieth century. They must contend with extreme hardships, including Prohibition, Western expansion, pandemics, droughts and the looming Great Depression.

Here's everything we know so far about 1923.

1923 release date

Paramount Plus has set the 1923 premiere date for Sunday, December 18, 2022. The first episode will air on both Paramount Plus and the Paramount Network. 

The second episode will air Jan. 1 (skipping the Sunday that is Christmas Day). 

The first season consists of eight episodes. A second season has been planned by creator Taylor Sheridan.

1923 trailers: Watch the first teaser trailer

The first 1923 teaser trailer is all about violence and how it has "always haunted this family," as a female narrator notes. Her words play over flashes of violent action, with characters alternately racing on horseback, pointing and shooting guns, and beating someone with their fists. 

This is still the very wild west. And the Duttons are prepared to do whatever it takes to defend their ranch and family.

1923 cast

The cast of 1923 is led by Harrison Ford as Jacob Dutton and Helen Mirren as Cara Dutton. They are the patriarch and matriarch of the Dutton family in the early twentieth century. 

Jacob is the brother of James Dutton (portrayed by Tim McGraw in 1883), who founded the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. Cara is Jacob's wife of Irish descent. 

"Jacob’s the silverback," Ford told Vanity Fair. "He’s responsible for that branch of the family. These are two people with a very strong bond to each other who are facing really complicated circumstances."

Mirren explained, “I see Cara as an immigrant. One of the things I very strongly wanted was that she would speak with an Irish accent, not with an American accent. It’s always slightly annoyed me with Westerns that you have all these people speaking with modern American accents when in fact so many of them were fairly recent immigrants."

Helen Mirren as Cara Dutton in 1923 Yellowstone prequel

(Image credit: Paramount Plus)

She added, "The big Irish immigration to America, because of the potato famine, was in the late 19th century. That absolutely chronologically works for Cara. She’s now in her late 60s, we imagine. So she would’ve come, I think, as a young woman from Ireland. I think that’s one of the extraordinary elements of America. The people who arrived, and are still arriving, are people with enormous resilience and enormous courage and independence."

Ford and Mirren will be joined by other 1923 cast members, including:

  • James Badge Dale as John Dutton Sr., eldest son of James Dutton and nephew to Jacob
  • Marley Shelton as Emma Dutton, John's wife
  • Darren Mann as Jack Dutton, John and Emma's son
  • Brandon Sklenar as Spencer Dutton, John's younger brother and Jacob's nephew who served in the World War
  • Michelle Randolph as Elizabeth Strafford, a feisty young woman set to marry into the Dutton family
  • Julia Schlaepfer as Alexandra, a British woman with ties to one of the Duttons
  • Robert Patrick as Sheriff William McDowell, lawman and friend of the Duttons
  • Sebastian Roché as Father Renaud, headmaster of a government-run Native American school
  • Jennifer Ehle as Sister Mary, an Irish nun who teaches at the school
  • Aminah Nieves as Teonna Rainwater, a young woman attending the school
  • Brian Geraghty as Zane, a fiercely loyal ranch foreman
  • Jerome Flynn as Banner Creighton, a rival rancher
  • Timothy Dalton as Donald Whitfield, a powerful, self-confident man who reeks of wealth and the lack of empathy it requires to attain it

What is Yellowstone: 1923 about?

According to the official Paramount Plus synopsis, 1923 will "explore the early 20th century when pandemics, historic drought, the end of Prohibition and the Great Depression all plague the mountain west and the Duttons who call it home."

Forty years have passed since James and Margaret Dutton arrived in Montana to found the family ranch. In 1893, just a decade after that, James died while pursuing horse thieves. 

Now, his brother Jacob is running the ranch with the help of his wife Cara, nephew John Dutton Sr. (portrayed in 1883 as a child by Audie Rick) and John's son Jack. 

"There's very little that sustains them other than themselves and the hard work and investment they put into their future and their family," Ford told Vanity Fair of the current Dutton patriarch and matriarch. "It is a tough life, and it's full of not just physical challenges but moral ones as well." 

The Duttons' moral code figures to be a significant subject in 1923, highlighted by classes with local ranchers they call "sheep men."

"You need someone who is capable of making decisions, and hopefully making the right decisions, but at least making a decision and going with it — in other words, a leader," Mirren said. "That's what has propelled them into this position of running the ranch, running the family, being the linchpin around whom, at this moment in time, the family revolves."

Another plot will revolve around young indigenous women who are forced to attend government-run boarding schools. This real-life practice took Native American girls of that era away from their culture and language to try to assimilate them into Anglo society. 

Yellowstone family tree

So, you may be a bit confused about all these Duttons, how they are related to each other and their ties to the present-day characters played by Kevin Costner, Kelly Reilly, etc. 

OK, so here we go:

First generation: James Dutton (McGraw) and wife Margaret Dutton (Hill) move to Montana and found the ranch. They travel with their children, including 5-year-old John. These events are portrayed in the show 1883). 

Second generation: James has a brother named Jacob, who takes over the ranch when James dies in 1893 since James' sons John and Spencer are teenagers.

Third generation: John grows up, marries Emma and has a son of his own, Jack, who is likely in his early to mid-20s. 

Four generation: Presumably Jack and an unknown wife have a son, John Dutton Jr. 

Fifth generation: John Dutton Jr. (portrayed by Dabney Coleman in Yellowstone) runs the ranch, eventually bequeathing it to his son.

Sixth generation: John Dutton III (Costner) is the present-day patriarch. If the ranch survives, it will pass down to a seventh generation — one or more of his children Kayce, Beth and Jamie. 

Next: I finally watched Yellowstone — and here's what surprised me the most.

Kelly Woo
Streaming Editor

Kelly is the streaming channel editor for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.