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Wes Bentley, Gil Birmingham and Neal McDonough Interview: Yellowstone

Yellowstone is a show full of morally complex characters willing to do whatever it takes to stake their claim. Once season 2 premieres on June 19th, we'll be meeting yet one more: Malcolm Beck. The wealthy casino owner, played by Neal McDonough from Legends of Tomorrow, rides into town and stirs up trouble with his own agenda and moral compass. While he tries to shake down John Dutton (Kevin Costner), he'll also be making either a friend or a foe out of Thomas Rainwater, portrayed by Gil Birmingham. But those two aren't the only ones who will be antagonizing John this season. His son Jamie, played by Wes Bentley, has also struck out on his own politically and knows enough secrets to bring his his whole family down if he chooses. All three adversaries sat down with Screen Rant to discuss their disparate motivations for the season, and how their character may cross paths.

Jamie is such an interesting character because he’s devoted his life to protecting the ranch’s interests without getting the respect or the appreciation that he probably feels he deserves. So now that he’s branched out on his own, what can we expect from him and what tension will rise with his family?

Wes Bentley: I think for Jamie, there’s a lot of conflict in him with his family and trying to find his place. His loyalties continue to be tested in season 2, and he continues to look for himself. It’s seems to be a lifelong search, but it never can be a search without something dramatic happening.

Now, when I think of Thomas Rainwater, I think he’s the person who has the moral high ground. But he also isn’t above getting his hands dirty and playing little tricks. So where do you think he falls in the shades of gray that populate Yellowstone?

Gil Birmingham: I think season 2 is going to be a wonderful development for Thomas, because he’s a flawed individual just like we all are, and he has moral dilemmas that he struggles with about the way that he does the things that he’s doing. It’ll be very fascinating to watch it unfold.

Wes Bentley in Yellowstone

Neal, your character is Malcolm Beck, right? What can you tell us about him? What does he stand for, why is he here?

Neal McDonough: Malcolm Beck was based on some true-life brothers, and they own hundreds of gas station casinos all across Montana. The great thing about Malcolm is, although he’s a casino owner and a bit of a gangster, he has this real code of ethics. Things are supposed to be done in a certain way, and if they’re not then things have to be done in a certain way. And that’s what makes it really interesting for my character, because something that could be really horrible and nasty going on, he might think, “Well, that’s just normal.” And then something else might really set him off. When we start the season off, when I go nose to nose with Kevin, I say, “Look, this is the way we’re going to do it. Come on board with us, and everything’s going to be just fine.” And then Rainwater decides to go a different way, and everything starts to implode in front of me, and it gets very emotional really fast. And to work with these guys, I mean, come on. To work with the words of Taylor Sheridan, and to work with the caliber of actors I got to work with this year, was such a treat for me and a joy and a blessing.

Your relationship with Christina has really brought out a more confident side of Jamie. Do you think that relationship is really good for him, and where will we see it progress this season?

Wes Bentley: It’s a tricky one. I think Jamie’s relationship with Christina is still in an early, so I don’t even know if he knows how he feels about her. But I do know that he believes in her drive and thinks that he sees her as a way to find a distinguished voice that he has that’s separate from the family that might impress them. So there’s a lot of hope in Christina that I think Jamie puts into her. And then I think that he needs to discover how he really feels about her.

Last question: are you two going to team up more or butt heads more?

Gil Birmingham: There’ll be some interesting alliances.

Neal McDonough: Yeah, we can’t give that away. That scene in your office, though, was one of the tastiest scenes of the season. It was the first time we really met – it was actually the first time we had ever met – and there was no niceties when we started the day. It was, “Hey, Gil. How are you doing? Hey, Neal. How are you doing?” And then it was just cold. And we went nose to nose, and it was just… That was fun. That was just good, clean fun. Thank you, Taylor.

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