‘Yellowstone’ Creator Taylor Sheridan Reveals Why He Quit ‘Sons of Anarchy’ to Focus on Writing
Taylor Sheridan has the television world by the tail these days as the mastermind behind Yellowstone, 1883 and more, but he's seen his share of tough times in the entertainment industry. After a long string of minor roles over the course of several decades, he landed a high-profile gig on Sons of Anarchy, and he was hopeful that it would finally ignite his career. But when it came time to renegotiate his contract after two seasons, he got a brutal reality check that changed his career and life.
“I’ve always said Hollywood will tell you what you’re supposed to be doing, if you will listen,” Sheridan tells Deadline in a feature about the recent launch of 1883, which he created and for which he wrote all of the episodes. “At that time, they were offering me what I thought was a very unfair wage. It was less than virtually every other person on the show, and not enough for me to quit my second job. So, the business affairs attorney, who I won’t name, here’s what he told my attorney who said, look, there’s kids on the Cartoon Network making more than you’re offering this guy.
“The guy goes, ‘I know, and you’re right that he probably deserves to make more, but we’re not going to pay him more because guess what, he’s not worth more,’” the writer and director behind several of the biggest hits currently on television recalls. “‘That’s what he’s worth. There’s 50 of him. He is 11 on the call sheet. That’s what that guy is, and that’s all he’s ever going to be.’"
Sheridan opted to quit the show, and his character of Deputy David Hale was killed off in Season 3, but he says his decision wasn't driven by money.
"It was so much more that that’s how the business saw me. It wasn’t just this jerk business affairs attorney who simply articulated what obviously was said in a room with a bunch of executives when they decided ‘Nope, we’re going to save a dollar here. He’s easy to replace because he’s just not that good at his job. Let’s replace him with someone cheaper.’ And I decided right there that I didn’t want to be 11 on the call sheet for the rest of my life."
That was in 2010, and Sheridan turned his attention to screenwriting, using past bad scripts he'd been forced to endure as an actor doing auditions as a lesson on what he did not want to do in his own writing. He made his screenwriting debut with 2015's Sicario, which met with widespread acclaim, and followed it up by writing and directing Wind River, a project that features many of the same cast members and themes as Yellowstone.
That led to Yellowstone, which helped launch the Paramount Network in 2018. That show has become the most successful show on cable television over the course of four seasons, spawning 1883 and another upcoming spinoff titled Yellowstone: 6666. Sheridan also created The Mayor of Kingstown for Paramount+, and he's working on another upcoming series titled Kansas City, which stars Sylvester Stallone as a mob boss.
Stay tuned to Taste of Country as we provide ongoing coverage of both Yellowstone and 1883, including episode analysis, news on the shows, cast interviews and more. As part of our comprehensive coverage, check out the Dutton Rules podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
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