The very main role in Paramount Network’s Yellowstone is played by two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Costner. The Dance with Wolves star portrays John Dutton III, described as “a widowed sixth-generation patriarch of the Dutton family who owns and operates the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, the largest contiguous ranch in the United States and also serves as Montana Livestock Commissioner.”

Costner reportedly makes a fortune per episode to play the character. John Dutton III is depicted as the authoritative father of Lee, Beth, Kayce and Jamie. Lee Dutton was portrayed by Dave Annable, but was killed off in the very first episode of the show. English actress Kelly Reilly stars as the “bitter, abrasive and emotionally unstable” Beth Dutton.

John Dutton III’s favorite child is the former US Navy SEAL Kayce, a role played by Fifty Shades and True Blood star Luke Grimes. His brother Jamie is portrayed by Wes Bentley, who is also known for starring in Ghost Rider, The Four Feathers, The Hunger Games, and many other films and TV shows.

RELATED: Is Kevin Costner’s Relationship With His Children Anything Like The Dutton Family?

Other main cast members of Yellowstone include Cole Hauser as Rip Wheeler, Kelsey Asbille as Monica Long Dutton, Gil Birmingham as Chief Thomas Rainwater, and child actor Brecken Merrill as Tate Dutton. Here is where else you might have seen the young, talented star.

Who Is Brecken Merrill’s Character, Tate Dutton In Yellowstone?

Brecken Merrill Yellowstone
Via Paramount Network

Tate Dutton is the first (and by the end of Season 4), the only child of Kayce Dutton and his wife Monica Long Dutton. The relationship between Kayce and his own father John Dutton III is one of the main story threads that are explored in Yellowstone. John — being the traditional and exacting man he is — imposed too much on Kayce while raising him, causing a strain in their relationship.

Kayce found an escape by joining the military, and originally refused to live on the family ranch when he returned from duty. Instead, he joined his Native American wife Monica in the Broken Rock Indian Reservation land, where she lives with her family. Monica started out as a faculty member at Heartsong Middle School, but later takes up a job at Montana State University.

RELATED: Is ‘Yellowstone’ Based On A True Story?

With age and perspective, John is remorseful about his parenting decisions over Kayce, especially as it now means that he doesn’t get to see his grandson Tate as much as he would want to. Much of this is lost on little Tate, who is more captivated by the cowboy lifestyle of the Dutton Ranch.

Brecken Merrill Had A Recurring Role In This Is Us

Brecken Merrill will turn 15 years old on June 20, 2023. He is still very much a budding actor, despite his significant experience starring in Yellowstone. The young star’s IMDb profile shows that he has also featured in movies titled We All Got Up to Dance and Lifeline, but his other major gig was a recurring role in NBC’s popular family drama series This Is Us.

Merrill played a teenage version of Nicholas “Nicky Jr.” Pearson. in two episodes of the series’ final Season 6. The character was more frequently portrayed by 8-year-old Kellan Tetlow. Nicky Jr. is the son of Kevin Pearson (Justin Hartley), and the twin brother of Frances “Franny” Pearson (Callie Carlin Ogden). Jasper McPherson (The Orville, Girlboss) plays an older version of Franny.

RELATED: Fans Think This Is The Worst Character On ‘Yellowstone’

In May 2022, Merrill shared a photo of him and Hartley on Instagram, and captioned it: “It was such a wonderful experience getting to join the TIU family for their last two episodes. Thank you to the cast and crew for being so welcoming. You should all be extremely proud of the beautiful story you created for us to fall in love with.”

Brecken Merrill Got Important Advice From Kevin Costner During Yellowstone

Tate Dutton
Via Paramount Network

Despite still being in his early teens, Brecken Merrill figures that he has already discovered his vocation. He spoke to Entertainment Tonight about his role in Yellowstone, and how a conversation with co-star Kevin Costner made him realize that he was in love with acting.

“[I spoke to] Kevin [and he] says, ‘Do you really, like, wanna do this? Is this what you really wanna do [with your life?” Merrill recalled. “I thought about it for the next month, and he kind of guided me to that area of, ‘Yeah, this is what I wanna do. This is my career. This is my passion.” It’s super cold [on set in Montana]. It’s zero degrees, but I’m loving it. I wanna be here. I just wanna thank Kevin. I’m so blessed to work with such an amazing cast.”

Merrill also revealed how his parents first broke the news to him that he had booked the role of Tate Dutton in Yellowstone. They captured the moment on camera, and the actor still marvels at his reaction to date.

“Just looking back on that video, just seeing my expression is just insane,” he said. “It was really hard for me to process what had just happened, but it was one of my proudest moments.”

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