Harrison Ford Reveals the Personal Cowboy Experiences He Brings to His ‘1923’ Performance: ‘I Know a Bit About the Life’

The star also tells TheWrap why now was the time to “dip my foot into” Taylor Sheridan’s “Yellowstone” universe

1923 Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford in "1923"

Harrison Ford is mean as hell.

Not in real life, of course. Talking to him over Zoom was an absolute delight. But on “1923,” the latest installment in the ever-expanding, Taylor Sheridan-led “Yellowstone” universe, Ford is gruff, uncompromising and violent.

The veteran movie star portrays Jacob Dutton, the brother of James Dutton (played by Tim McGraw in “1883”), a homesteader who establishes the Yellowstone ranch we all know and love. Opposite Helen Mirren’s Cara Dutton, he protects that ranch by any means necessary.

In an early episode, he threatens a man with a hanging for what some would probably view as a minor infraction (it involves sheep). When the man pleads with Ford’s Dutton, he screams: “You can’t hang a man, this is the 20th Century!” Dutton hangs him anyway.

TheWrap spoke to Ford about his pivot to television (he’s also got a new Apple show coming out called “Shrinking”), how well he understood the “Yellowstone” universe before signing on and what he thinks about “1923” already being renewed for a second season.

Helen Mirren said that she signed on because you had signed. She hadn’t even seen a script. What kind of compelled you to begin this adventure?

I thought I signed on because she had already signed on. Our memories are a little different, but I thought she was locked in, and that was one of the attractions for me. And then to be part of this very ambitious universe that Taylor is creating seemed to me a great time to dip my foot into this new way of working.

This is your second TV show in the past year, right?

Yeah. I had another opportunity which came up while we were still working on the script. I did that and I’m very happy with that. It’s a series called “Shrinking,” which is a half-hour comedy from the folks that brought “Ted Lasso” to the screen. Very, very good writing, very funny stuff, and I really enjoyed that. And then I came here. Well, both Helen and I signed up at whatever time without a script and Taylor Sheridan was producing that script while I was making this last television project. We’re both thrilled with the outcome and the characters that were created and the opportunities that those characters presented.

Had you already been a fan of the “Yellowstone” universe?

I had seen some of “Yellowstone.” I was working in Europe for the last, almost a year, prior to doing even “Shrinking.” I admire what Kevin [Costner is] doing. I’ve always admired him as he’s a wonderful actor and he’s had a fantastic career. But it was more important for me to spend what time I had watching “1883.” I really wanted to be grounded in the experience of the history of a family up to the point. I didn’t spend that much time watching the most contemporary iteration of the Dutton family.

From what I understand, the other actors went to cowboy camp. You could probably have taught cowboy camp.

No. I’m not a real cowboy. But I’ve had horses for many years and I’ve lived in Wyoming, where I keep horses. I am familiar. I’ve joined neighbors on cattle drives and brandings and I know a bit about the life. The life now is a bit easier than it was in 1923. There’s been a lot of innovation and technology that has made ranching somewhat easier, but it’s still a tough, dirty job.

It was recently announced that “1923” will be back for a second season. Are you excited about continuing this journey?

I’m delighted at the opportunity.

“1923” is streaming on Paramount+ now.