How the Yellowstone women are kicking ass and evening the score in season 3
Jen Landon was witnessing history and she never even knew it. Her father Michael was starring as Pa in one of the last hit Western dramas of yesteryear, Little House on the Prairie, until the finale in May 1983. She was just two months old. Now, entering the cast of the hit Western drama Yellowstone decades later, Landon sees the serendipity of the full-circle moment.
"I knew that he was the angel guy who buddied up with a bearded guy and did some nice things around America," Landon tells EW of her father, referring to his iconic role on Highway to Heaven. "When [Yellowstone] came out, it connected me with a part of my dad that I didn't even know—that had never got to me."
Starting in season 3, Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan was on a mission to bolster the cast with female characters who kick ass and take names, on and off the Yellowstone ranch. The newcomers include Landon (As the World Turns, Animal Kingdom) as ranchhand Teeter, Eden Brolin (Beyond) and Hassie Harrison (Tacoma FD) as barrel racers Mia and Laramie, and Q'orianka Kilcher (The Alienist, Sons of Anarchy) as Angela Blue Thunder, rival to Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham).
Westerns of the past have had a complicated history with depicting women and minorities—the official Little House on the Prairie fansite even grapples with this question. In Yellowstone, each character is introduced as a three-dimensional member of society who not only impacts others but also has their own aspirations and inner conflicts.
"This show really started with two women," actress Kelly Reilly says simply during a promo for Yellowstone season 3 back in June. Reilly stars as the daughter in the Dutton ranch empire Beth. She and Monica Dutton (Kelsey Chow) have been shouldering the load of portraying a woman's perspective in a hit Western drama for the first two seasons. "Season 3 was almost like handing the baton," Reilly adds.
In Sunday's episode, Beth will enter into an agreement with one of these four actresses, a pivotal moment in the fight against Roarke Morris (Josh Holloway) and Willa Hayes (Karen Pittman). EW spoke to each of the four actresses new to Yellowstone and break down how each of their characters saddle up against their male counterparts. Have your guess at Beth's new friend and buckle up!
Jen Landon as Teeter
Whose ass she's kicking: Another ranchhand, Colby. Played by Denim Richards, Colby is one of two men in the bunkhouse who can't quite find the right words to court the women in front of them (Hi, Jimmy). So Teeter, with her harsh rural drawl, takes control. "Teeter is a representation of a kind of cowgirl that we don't see often," Landon says. "She's not the glammy rodeo gal."
Q'orianka Kilcher as Angela Blue Thunder
Whose ass she's kicking: Gil Birmingham as Thomas Rainwater, who is currently fending off an airplane development and ongoing violence against his indigenous people. Angela comes in with an answer to the chaos, starting with one of the most powerful entrances in Yellowstone history. "There is no protection from me," Angela proclaims as she walks into Thomas' office early in the season. "Angela Blue Thunder is her own force of nature. Charging into the room was a little fun and scary since it was my first day on set," Kilcher says, adding that Birmingham once played her father in a previous role.
Eden Brolin as Mia
Whose ass she's kicking: Oh, Jimmy (played by Jefferson White). Jimmy has had a winding path on the road to Yellowstone ranch. Mia coming into his life as a partner just as his rodeo dreams are smashed and dashed has become one of the more compelling subplots of the season. "He's just in this guessing game of just how to get along on this ranch and, how to start being a proper cowboy," Brolin says. "She really just comes in and raises the stakes, just clearly takes the lead." Brolin has her own tie to Westerns: her father Josh Brolin was in both True Grit and No Country for Old Men, modern Westerns by the Coen brothers. "I watched both when we were shooting this season," Brolin says. "I think it's really neat to see modern Westerns. I think what Taylor's been doing with it is rooting in that same place of reality, not just this old Western genre that we've seen in the classics."
Hassie Harrison as Laramie
Who's ass she's kicking: Lloyd! The veteran ranchhand has a unique relationship with Hassie as she starts hanging around in the bunkhouse, but the no-BS barrel racer fully knows what she's doing. We may just not know it yet. "When [Lloyd] and Jimmy are sitting in the stands and Jimmy asked if our characters slept together, Lloyd was like, 'No, she's like, not even 25.' So there's something about that too, you know. I think the audience will be interested to see where it goes."
Yellowstone airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Paramount Network. You can also catch up on all things Yellowstone starting from season 1 on NBC's new streaming service Peacock.