James Badge Dale: 1923 'stands alone' in Yellowstone universe

James Badge Dale in 1923
James Badge Dale in 1923 (Image credit: James Minchin III/Paramount+)

The Yellowstone prequel, and 1883 sequel, 1923 is Taylor Sheridan's latest exploration of another generation of the Dutton family. This time around it arguably has the two biggest stars yet to appear in either series, as Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren play Jacob and Cara Dutton, who run the Yellowstone ranch during the tumultuous period of the 1920s.

The Duttons have to endure and overcome many hardships throughout 1923, including Prohibition, the expansion of the West and the Great Depression, which began in Montana a decade before it gripped the rest of the country. 

Ahead of the release of 1923, What To Watch spoke with its stars James Badge Dale and Marley Shelton. The star of 24, The Departed and The Pacific, Dale portrays John Dutton Sr., who is the right hand man to Ford's Jacob, as well as his oldest nephew, while Shelton, who has starred in Scream, Grindhouse and The Sandlot (she played Wendy Peffercorn), plays John's loyal wife, Emma. 

Here's what Dale and Shelton had to say about the western, Sheridan's writing and what connects 1923 to Yellowstone.

WTW: What drew both of you to the project?

Marley Shelton: I mean, what didn't draw me? I was drawn like a magnet to it. You know, I was sucked like a tractor-beam. I just had to do it. First and foremost, though, it was the great Taylor Sheridan, his writing. His work just precedes him. He’s created such an amazing world, especially with this era of the 1920s. Plus the western landscape setting. I mean, just, sign me up. 

James Badge Dale: It was really just a special job. I'm gonna take home a lot of memories for a long time on this one.

WTW: What makes Taylor Sheridan's writing so unique?

MS: I think it's a combination of his use of the classic western, which we're all familiar with, but then he does a top spin on it and he shows it to us through a very different lens. He's also able to do an historical investigation of Americana that we haven't really seen in our history. 

Marley Shelton in 1923

Marley Shelton in 1923 (Image credit: James Minchin III/Paramount+)

JBD: It's just really gutsy writing. I don't want to go too far into it, because I don't want to give anything away. But I just feel like the audience is going to be very surprised and shocked and drawn in. It's just really an incredible piece of work.

WTW: What links and connects 1923 to Yellowstone?

MS: Well, we're the middle. We're the prequel to Yellowstone and we're the sequel to 1883. We are a continuation of that 1883 story. We pick up 40 years later. Little John is all grown up. He has a wife and has a 25-year-old kid.

JBD: Basically, we have no idea how it all connects. We're still trying to figure it out. What Taylor has written this time, I think it stands alone. Especially because it's so big in scope. I don't want to get drawn too far back into the past, I just want to focus on the story of 1923.

MS: That's right. We were just trying to focus on our story and not get too caught up in the big picture tapestry that was being woven. Especially because our characters don't know that they're part of a big tapestry.

1923 premieres on Paramount Plus on December 18 in the US and Canada, before debuting in the UK and Australia on December 19.

Gregory James Wakeman

Born and raised in England but now based in Philadelphia, Gregory Wakeman has written for the BBC, New York Times, The Guardian, GQ, and Yahoo Movies UK, all while defiantly trying to keep his accent.