It’s the age-old advice that every writer receives: ‘Write what you know.’
And Taylor Sheridan, creator of the highly successful Yellowstone and its prequel series, 1883 and 1923, proves this adage can pay off, writing about the thrilling life of a cowboy – one that he is all too familiar with.
It’s a life he’s led every day, not just as a child, but to this day – despite being one of the biggest names in Hollywood.
He, his wife of 10 years, Nicole, and their son, Gus, live in Texas where he owns a number of ranches, running horses and cattle.
Sheridan’s connection to this way of life no doubt provides endless inspiration for his now Golden Globes-nominated show about the ins and outs of the Duttons, a family of ranchers who run the largest ranch in the US, and gives it unrivalled realism.
Taylor Sheridan and wife Nicole Muirbrook pictured in 2021. The couple married in 2013, years before his Yellowstone success
Sheridan (left) onset with Sam Elliott (right) who stars in Yellowstone prequel 1883
The actor-turned-screenwriter proves that you can turn the everyday life you lead into critical acclaim, legions of fans and becoming the $1 billion king of TV.
Yellowstone has been famously snubbed at the Golden Globes since it was first released in 2018, but the modern Western drama was finally nominated for a statuette last year.
Kevin Costner is up for Best Actor in a Drama series for his role as John Dutton, the patriarch of the family.
While he hasn’t swept awards season, Sheridan has dominated in arguably the more important arena: ratings.
This week’s top 10 most-streamed shows saw 1923 and Tulsa King clinch the second and fifth spots respectively, according to The Wrap.
Meanwhile in the broadcast TV stakes, Yellowstone took the top spot, beating out America’s Got Talent, and 1923 came in at number seven.
As January 10 approaches, when we will see if the hugely popular series will finally clench its first Golden Globes win, FEMAIL delves into the life of Sheridan who went from struggling actor, earning some notable roles in Sons of Anarchy and Veronica Mars, to the king of the modern Western drama after penning Oscar-nominated Sicario and Hell Or High Water.
The early years: Sheridan’s ranch life childhood where he discovered his passion for horses
Sheridan grew up in Cranfills Gap, a small town south-west of Dallas and has a population of less than 300, where his family ran a ranch before his parents divorced and his mom sold it before making the move to Wyoming, according to Fort Worth Magazine.
It was on that Cranfills Gap ranch that he spent his summers and weekends horse riding, and where this passion for them began.
In the 1990s he was theatre major at Texas State University despite reportedly wanting to become sheriff of his hometown, but dropped out and moved to Austin.
He grew up in at a Texas ranch in Cranfills Gap, a small town with a population of less than 300. It was here Sheridan (pictured with his wife) discovered his love of horses
Sheridan on a horse during a scene in Hell Or High Water – a 2016 American heist crime film he wrote
It was in Austin, where he mowed lawns and painted houses for cash, that he was scouted by a Chicago talent agency while looking for a job at the mall.
They bought him a plane ticket, but he cashed it in and put that money towards driving his truck to Chicago as he didn’t like to fly, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
His career as an actor took him to New York and then Los Angeles where he continued to struggle to make ends meet.
During this time, he wasn’t making a lot of money so at one point he was living out of a truck and also pitched a tent on a reservation his friends lived on north of LA.
‘I was really broke but made the choice not to quit and go home,’ Sheridan said.
It’s a far cry from where he is now, shooting more than $1 billion worth of television shows, according to the Australian Financial Review.
After failing to make it big as an actor, Sheridan makes the switch to screenwriting as he becomes a new father
His big breaks as an actor didn’t come until he was in his late 30s and 40s, starring as Deputy Chief David Hale in Sons of Anarchy and Danny Boyd in Veronica Mars.
But with a wife who had a child on the way, Sheridan began to reassess if acting was the path for him.
A snapshot of Sheridan’s acting and writing credits
Notable acting roles
2005-2007: Danny Boyd in Veronica Mars for five episodes
2008-2010: Deputy Chief David Hale in Sons of Anarchy for 21 episodes
Notable screenwriting credits
2016: Hell Or High Water
2017: Wind River
2018: Sicario: Day of the Soldado
2019: The Last Cowboy
2021: Those Who Wish Me Dead
2021-2022: Mayor of Kingstown
2022-2023: Tulsa King
He married model Nicole Muirbrook, a self-confessed ‘tomboy’ who grew up riding horses herself on her grandparents’ Wyoming ranch, in 2013, years before the mammoth success of his hit show, Yellowstone.
‘I didn’t want to raise my son in LA and I didn’t want to have to look him in the eye and tell him I couldn’t take him to a baseball game because I had an audition for a Windex commercial,’ he told the Austin American-Statesman.
Sheridan also told Cowboys & Indians having a child really made him change his perspective about how he was going to raise his son, Gus.
‘I think the thing that really changed my perspective on my career was getting married and having a child. And then, really thinking about how I am going to raise that child. And if that child is going to look up to me, what is he looking up to me for?’ he said.
‘Also, I wanted to tell stories that mattered to me, and not tell other people’s stories. I wanted to tell stories about my life and the lifestyle that I grew up in, and the world that I came from.
‘So people could understand where I come from, and understand the value of the upbringing that I had. That’s why I quit acting.’
That’s when he made the switch to screenwriting, starting first with 2015’s critically acclaimed and Academy Award-nominated Sicario and Hell Or High Water, which was also nominated for four Oscars. The money he earned from these scripts allowed him to buy a Wyoming ranch in 2012.
‘I was a new father and penniless, crammed my family into this little apartment because I stupidly at 40 decided to start writing,’ Sheridan told The Hollywood Reporter of his experience writing Hell Or High Water.
‘One of the major themes in it is failure as a father and at the same time Texas was on fire, the markets were collapsing and the way of life that I grew up with was failing and dying.
‘So it was a very personal exploration of my own experiences and then of a way of life, and it lent itself to some pretty harsh study of us as a people and our relationships, our relationships to people of different genders, race and everything.
The couple are pictured here in 2018 at the premiere of Yellowstone
Nicole with Sheridan and their son, Gus, at a Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys in December
Tim McGraw stars in Sheridan’s 1883, a prequel to highly successful Yellowstone
Sheridan played Deputy Chief David Hale in Sons Of Anarchy for 21 episodes
He played Danny Boyd (pictured) in Veronica Mars, making appearances in five episodes from 2005 to 2007
‘It was really me kind of re-examining my past.’
Sheridan also revealed he ‘can’t stand acting.’
‘There was a scene in [Hell Or High Water] where I wrote this monologue about the death of a way of life that this cowboy says and he rides up on a horse and [director] David Mackenzie goes, “Congratulations buddy, we can’t find anyone that can say the monologue and ride the horse, so get down here,”’ he told The Hollywood Reporter.
‘So I did and I’m in a scene with Jeff Bridges. It should be as an actor this great thing and I’m literally like, “When are we done? I need to get back to the hotel and get home.”’
Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford pictured with Sheridan at the 1923 premiere in 2022
He’s pictured here on the set of Hell Or High Water, which starred Jeremy Renner
Sheridan became a successful screenwriter. Here he is speaking with Angelina Jolie on the set of Those Who Wish Me Dead in 2021
Yellowstone and its prequel 1883 are shot on Sheridan’s own ranches
Sheridan spreads his time on a few ranches he owns in Texas – including Four Sixes Ranch, Bosque Ranch and a third in Jacksboro – where he runs both horses and cattle.
Some of them serve as filming locations for Yellowstone and its prequel, 1883, starring Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Sam Elliot. But it’s not the only thing he lends out.
‘As far as my horses go, I supply most of the horses to Yellowstone, my TV show. And then I have horses that I show and breed. Right now, I’ve got probably as many horses as I have cattle. And I have too many horses,’ Sheridan told Cowboys & Indians in 2020.
Ty Fox leads his horse out to be worked on the Four Sixes Ranch in 2007
A behind-the-scenes image from Yellowstone’s season five. The show follows the Dutton family who own the largest ranch in the US
The Yellowstone series stars Kevin Costner as John Dutton, the family’s patriarch
Nicole shared this photo of the couple at their home on her Instagram
An exterior photo of Bosque Ranch which served as a filming location for Yellowstone and 1883
Sheridan revealed he lent his horses to his Yellowstone production for the TV show
In January 2022, the 52-year-old led a group of investors who bought Four Sixes Ranch, a sprawling 266,255-plus acres – almost twice the size of Chicago – for $350 million, according to the Fort Worth Report.
‘I would pinch myself if I wasn’t keenly aware of the tremendous amount of responsibility that I just took on. It’s 150 years of legacy building at Four Sixes,’ Sheridan told Fort Worth Magazine in November.
In the profile it says ‘Sheridan writes, directs, creates, and makes his mark on the world so he can hang out with his wife and two kids and ride horses in peace.’
1883 star Eric Nelsen agreed, adding: ‘That’s his life.
‘His ranch lifestyle, his horses, and his family come first over anything else.
‘Taylor’s Texas born and raised; his blood runs thick with Texas cowboy pride and culture.
Sheridan pictured with his wife, Nicole, and son Gus in April 2020. His son changed the trajectory of his career
Cole Hatfield works with his horse on the Four Sixes Ranch. The ranch is owned by a group of investors led by Sheridan
Horses at the Four Sixes Ranch where Sheridan has used as a filming location for Yellowstone and 1883
Cattle at Bosque Ranch, owned by Sheridan, in Weatherford, Texas
‘He’s writing about his world, his life, his experiences. He’s pulling from his reality.
‘He’s gotta be about the only showrunner in Hollywood who’s a real-deal cowboy.’
Despite his success as a Hollywood showrunner, Sheridan told the magazine his dream had ‘always been… to own an old-timey butcher shop in the Stockyards.’
‘And I wanted to sell my own beef at the butcher shop,’ he said.
As for Bosque Ranch, the 600-acre property is described as ‘the premiere equine facility in North Texas’ and is the ‘official filming location for Yellowstone, 1883, and more.’ Sheridan’s wife Nicole helps run the operations at the working ranch.
According to its website, Sheridan says he plans to elevate operations at the ranch by ‘hosting larger rodeos, film and TV shoots, concerts, music festivals, charity events, and an on-going unique dining experience.’
In 2021, he was inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, Quarter Horse News reported, proving he is a real-life cowboy.
Watch Yellowstone Season 5 available now, only on Stan in Australia.