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How Wes Bentley's Darkest Moments Built Yellowstone
Wes Bentley is clear-eyed and smiling, a bit of a scruffy beard blunting the intensity of his face, a gold Virgin Mary pendant around his neck, as he talks fast about how he wound up here, with more than a decade of hard-won sobriety under his belt and a juicy part on Yellowstone, a cable-TV show that’s watched by more people than anything except NFL games. He owes all this, he says, to his wife and his two children, and to 12-step programs, but he also owes it to soccer, which gave him something to focus on, a way to make positive use of all the energy and stamina and drive and desire he’d once put into scoring drugs and getting high. While filming Yellowstone’s first season, Bentley tore his ACL and had to stop playing for a while. But this was a gift, too, because on the Paramount Network series, his character—Jamie Dutton, the Fredo Corleone to Kevin Costner’s cowboy Godfather—lives with an abundance of sadness and has nowhere to put it, and being deprived of his own outlet helped Bentley figure out who Jamie was. “I’d never really explored sadness without a vice,” he says. “In my own life, it would have been drugs, or trying to make people laugh, or being angry. But [to play] Jamie, I had to just be sad.”
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