Brecken Merrill Is the ‘Yellowstone’ Trauma King — Here’s How He Deals With It [Dutton Rules Podcast]
Through four-plus seasons of Yellowstone, Tate Dutton has endured more trauma than characters three times his age. He was kidnapped and abused, then he had to shoot a man to defend his mother!
During the opening episode of Season 5, he's in the car as Monica crashes into a bison. The accident sends her through the windshield and it's up to him to call for help. The tragic result of that sequence is that his baby brother dies, leading to what is perhaps the young boy's most poignant on-screen moment yet.
Sitting outside a hospital room, Tate tells John Dutton (played by Kevin Costner), that he had a brother, "for an hour, anyway."
Who Plays Tate on Yellowstone?
During this episode of the Dutton Rules podcast, actor Brecken Merrill explains what it took to prepare for that scene, and several more of his many violent moments. He also shared the very teenage way he unwinds.
Merrill talked to Dutton Rules from his dad's home office in California. Those who enjoy his character on Yellowstone will appreciate similarities between the actor and the boy he plays on TV. Both are humble, polite and reflective. Of all the scenes he's been a part of (we forgot to add falling into the river during Season 1, Ep. 4), the opening scene from Season 4 was his most difficult. There was a frustrating production delay that really tested his dedication before he shot the intruder. Fun fact: Merrill didn't meet the actor he shot until after he put him in the ground (figuratively).
The cliche question of "what do your parents think of all this?" holds new meaning when pressed to this young actor. Some parents would struggle to let their then pre-teen kill a man for television's sake. Listen as he explains their response to his scripts and Costner's advice for him in the short and longterm.
As for how he separates from the drama? Other actors on Yellowstone have admitted that it's difficult. Luke Grimes is one who says he needs time after a killing sequence. Sam Elliott (1883) has talked about being an emotional mess for weeks. Adult vices aren't available to Merrill, but he has a few indulgences he turns to to get his mind off everything.
"Whenever I really get out of a traumatic scene, a really weird, fumy place in my head," he begins, "I run down to (craft services), grab some candy and try to cool off. With my candy, with my chips, watching some YouTube videos or something. I think I'm good after that."
Specifically it's Twix and Dude Perfect for John Dutton's grandson.
"I am a chocolate guy," he admits.
Does Tate Die on Yellowstone?
According to IMDB, Merrill has appeared in 45 episodes of Yellowstone, plus brief roles in NBC's This Is Us and something called We All Got Up to Dance. In spite of all of the trauma that's come his way, Tate Dutton lives on — although things look a bit dicey going into Ep. 6. His character joins the cowboys to push the cattle back to the ranch for branding and someone gets hurt.
A trailer shows John Dutton hugging someone with dark hair. Could it be Kayce (Grimes)? Could it be Tate? Both of those options spell bad news for fans hoping the teen can live in peace for awhile.