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Actor Luke Grimes shares his ‘Yellowstone’ experience

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When the Paramount Network gave the green light to its first scripted series “Yellowstone” in 2017, the show scored impressive numbers and a devoted fanbase beginning with the first episode.

Actor Luke Grimes, who plays Kayce Dutton on the series, attributes much of Yellowstone’s success among fans and critics to its writing. The show’s second season cliffhanger (“Sins of the Father”) aired on Aug. 28 at 10 p.m.

“There’s so much going on, and it’s so intense and with so much drama, you can’t help but be sucked in,” Grimes said during a phone interview.

“Yellowstone” chronicles the Duttons - owners of the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. Headed by John Dutton, the family is confronted with the ever-present challenge of defending their land. Kelly Reilly co-stars as Kayce’s sister Beth Dutton – a manipulator with a bit of a substance abuse problem.

As Kayce, Grimes’s character is a former U.S. Navy SEAL who returns to the family ranch to find himself pulled in several directions.

“First, he has a loyalty to his family, the ranch and the life he grew up with,” Grimes said of his character.

“After having a bit of a falling out with his father, he starts his own life with his wife – a Native American – and they decide to go live on the reservation and feels he’s part of that world now. He’s also dealing with a lot of demons from his past and is trying to be a family man.”

According to Grimes, it was the quality of the writing that drew him to “Yellowstone.”

“I was already a fan of Taylor Sheridan’s writing before the script landed on my desk,” he said. “When I saw the name, I immediately jumped in and found that I loved it as much as his other scripts. There’s so much to play and the actor in me really took to it.”

The show’s co-creator (with John Linson), Sheridan is responsible for writing or co-writing every episode of “Yellowstone” to date.

Grimes says some of his favorite scenes from the first two seasons of “Yellowstone” were those shot with Brecken Merrill, the young actor that plays his son Tate.

“Working with a child is always cool and unpredictable,” Grimes said. “Just playing a father for the first time and seeing what it feels like to try on those shoes is pretty cool.”

“Yellowstone” is Grime’s first project where we get to see him being a dad, but it’s not his first time portraying an active or retired U.S. Navy SEAL. In 2014’s “American Sniper,” Grimes portrayed US Navy SEAL Marc Lee, who was killed in action in 2006. I asked Grimes if he thought he had what it took to be a SEAL in real life.

“Absolutely not. The training those guys go through is brutal and it will test a person to the core. I don’t think one out of a million people has what it takes to become a U.S. Navy SEAL.”

Grimes says he maintains a certain level of physicality to meet the demands of the action scenes in “Yellowstone,” but says his character “has been home for a while and is a cowboy again so I don’t think he’s as bulked up as would have been as a SEAL.”

I asked Grimes what he could share about tonight’s second-season cliffhanger.

“I’m not sure what I can and can’t say about the last episode of the season. After it airs, everybody is going to want to know what happens next. I would just say tune in and check it out (laughs). It’s a really great episode.”

“Yellowstone” has been renewed for a third season, scheduled to air in 2020.

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