Yellowstone’ Dutton family battle royale: Wes Bentley says scheming Jamie is showing ‘spine’

Wes Bentley’s Jamie Dutton made audacious power moves against the rest of the Dutton family in Sunday’s midseason finale of Paramount Network’s hit Western “Yellowstone,” which look to explode in future episodes.

Bentley, 44, tells USA TODAY that Jamie is in uncharted bold territory in his complicated relationship with father, Yellowstone ranch patriarch and Montana governor John Dutton (Kevin Costner), and especially his uber-rival sister Beth (Kelly Reilly).

The siblings clashed in the finale as Jamie took a hit from Beth’s rock but held the strategic highground.

“It was an amazing feeling for Jamie to realize he has the upper hand and strength over her in a power position, rather than feeling scared of her,” says Bentley. “It’s his moment. So we’ll see where it goes from here.”

Bentley spoke about the coming family explosion when TV’s most popular show “Yellowstone” resumes this summer.` (Edited and condensed for clarity.)

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Question: Jamie Dutton impressively announced he was starting impeachment proceedings against his own governor father in the finale. How unprecedented was this boldness?

Wes Bentley: This is Jamie’s biggest move yet – direct conflict with John – and it’s not hidden. He’s put it out in public. You can’t go back from that. But Jamie is ready for anything, feels safe and knows he’s never going to get what he wants unless he makes moves.

What did Beth hit Jamie with during their finale confrontation, and what was it like to film with Kelly as Jamie turned the tables?

Beth broke his window with a rock to get into the house. And then she hit him with that rock. Filming this scene, even we couldn’t help but smile watching the power dynamic change just a little bit. It was fun for both of us to discover as we went along.

“Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan’s longest running (and best) personal battle is between Jamie and Beth. How do you describe that toxic relationship?

The way Taylor Sheridan described it to me on our first phone call (was) this is a Greek tragedy in Big Sky country, and this is a Greek couple. It’s such a complicated relationship with borderline attraction. They were so close when they were younger. and you can see that by the hatred and the hurt now. There’s a lot of sadness there.

Jamie is rocking the rad hairstyle, and is ripped as seen in this season’s prolonged shirtless scene. What gives?

Jamie’s hair has been telling a story since Season 1. It started like a LEGO hairpiece, so hair-sprayed and sharp. You could tell he really wanted to impress people. But now it’s militaristic, short and severe. I like the idea that darkness is coming out from him and the hair is contributing. I play soccer and do Olympic-style lifting, which I have put on hold for Jamie. But I dove in for this. That was Jamie-driven. It’s almost like Jamie needs the protection and he’s feeling strong. It’s like he has a spine.

‘Yellowstone’ Twitter is sure Jamie is an idiot being duped by his girlfriend Sarah (Dawn Olivieri), who has her own anti-Dutton agenda. What do you think?

Jamie plays chess and is always thinking a few steps ahead. He’s been used his whole life, so he knows what that feels like when people are using him. But over time you really learn how to use the user. With Sarah, Jamie is learning how to play a game, and he’s in a world that he’s built for.

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John Dutton (Kevin Costner) on inauguration day in “Yellowstone” with daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly) and son Jamie (Wes Bentley). The relationship has gone downhill this season.

In Jamie’s final moments, he’s seeking a hitman to kill his dad. Is there any hope for family peace?

I don’t know how you come back from there, even though it was said in private. That’s pretty sick, even for Jamie.

Meanwhile, Beth is lobbying dad for permission to kill Jamie. John didn’t say anything, which was telling. How long do you expect Jamie to be alive?

We’ve seen John shoot down many of Beth’s crazy ideas about what she wants to do with Jamie. So I think John’s silence is what we fear, or I should say what Jamie should fear. Because I think that was a yes. As for the future, Taylor keeps his cards close to his chest. So I’m waiting for what happens just like everyone else. I like that, experiencing the show through the scripts.

John Dutton gave his other son Kayce (Luke Grimes) a big hug and said “I love you” in the finale, which shocked everyone. Does Jamie just need a hug from dad?

That might have worked when Jamie was 18, or in Season 2 or 3. But I think it’s a little late for that.

“Yellowstone” is up for a Critics Choice Award, and was nominated for a SAG Award last year. How does it feel to get that positive critical attention?

It’s a nice honor to see more people paying attention. But it’s also nice hearing from people who watch the show regularly. The ratings themselves feel like an award, and a response to the show’s critics.

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