‘1923’ Star Helen Mirren Goes Deep on the ‘Yellowstone’ Franchise: ‘I See It More as an Examination of the History of America’ (Video)

Learn what favorite literary work she compares it to

Earlier this week TheWrap hosted a screening of the first episode of “1923,” with stars Helen Mirren, Brandon Sklenar and Aminah Nieves, along with editor Chad Galster, production designer Cary White and assistant costume designer Samantha Pavlat.

It was a fascinating chat (you can watch the whole thing above), but what was particularly intriguing was when the topic of joining a beloved franchise like “Yellowstone” was brought up.

“I don’t see it as a franchise,” Mirren said. “I don’t see it like that.”

But if it isn’t a franchise to Mirren, then what is it?

“I know this is going to sound super pretentious, but I see it more as an examination of the history of America, in the way that ‘War & Peace’ was an examination of part of the history of Russia, seen through the eyes of families, family members. I see it much more like that,” Mirren said. “I personally hadn’t seen a lot of ‘Yellowstone,’ but mostly I jumped on board because of Taylor’s writing in his films that is so very, very good and it transpired that he is a brilliant writer. He really is. The scripts arrived as complete things that you didn’t want to change a word, you didn’t want to add anything, you didn’t want to take anything away. They were psychologically interesting to play, as an actor.”

Just to be clear “1923” is a part of the “Yellowstone” franchise, which was started by Taylor Sheridan in 2018 and quickly became the most popular show on television, inspiring “1883,” a spinoff set in the distant past of the central family and, now, “1923,” a follow-up to that original spinoff. (Both were created for Paramount+, while the original show airs on broadcast Paramount Network.) There will be more spinoffs on the way, as well, including the contemporary “6666,” set on the legendary Texas ranch.

In “1923” Mirren plays Dutton family matriarch Cara Dutton, a homesteader forced to deal with the changing politics and policies of the era, as the old west transitions to something much more modern, along with threats from greedy developers and drama from within the family. There’s a lot to play there. And Mirren is right; “1923” is a prism used to view the changing American landscape, both literally and spiritually. It is also, of course, part of the “Yellowstone” empire, a collection of the most-watched series on TV and streaming.