‘Yellowstone’ Star Ryan Bingham Knows Fans Want Walker Sent to the Train Station
On Yellowstone, Ryan Bingham's character Walker is a pot-stirrer. During a new interview, the actor and Grammy-winning singer and songwriter admits he's well-aware of a large population that would love to see his character killed, but he swears it's not his fault.
"I think he is a loyal guy," Bingham tells Taste of Country. "He’s loyal to Rip and the ranch and also just, I think in his heart, he’s the kind of guy that wants to stay out of trouble as much as he can."
He's done a poor job of staying out of trouble since first appearing in Season 1 of the Paramount Network show. Almost immediately he becomes romantic with Beth Dutton, which doesn't settle well with her eventual husband, Rip Wheeler. Then he tries to quit his job on the ranch, but gets pulled back in and has a ticket stamped to the train station before Kayce Dutton shows him mercy.
"I think it was a similar thing with Beth in the barn there. How these songs can kind of resonate with people and people can identify with them and whatever she was going through. I think I was just really trying to hold that space with her, for her character to express that."
Throughout Season 4, he rankled Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith) by stealing his girlfriend Laramie (Hassie Harrison). That leads to a series of violent episodes that find him stabbed and sufficiently beaten. If a teacher were to grade his Staying Out of Trouble test, Bingham would get a solid 'D.'
During an interview for the Dutton Rules podcast, Bingham opened up about filming his most memorable scenes and shared a story about how the stabbing scene went very, very wrong. We won't spoil it, but blood was everywhere.
He also spoke to the heavy scene between his character and Reilly's Beth Dutton during Ep. 9 of Season 4. Walker is asked to play a sad song, so he chooses one from Bingham's catalog called "Hallelujah." The song is significant in more ways than one.
Listen to the full Dutton Rules podcast below, or read select highlights. In addition to his acting and music career, Bingham is currently the lead in a series of commercials for Lone River Ranch Water, a brand he's made a personal connection with.
Taste of Country: What's your favorite part about playing Walker?
Ryan Bingham: I get to be a little bit of myself in Walker. Definitely, he has his trials and tribulations and things that happen to him on this show that are out of his control. But I did grow up in New Mexico and West Texas and I’ve always romanticized about Montana and cowboying up in that country. It’s really been a blast.
Part of what makes Walker interesting is that he's at times caught between hero and villain. Do you think he’ll have to choose one or the other eventually?
I think so. There’s a bit of a conflict there. He’s damned if he does and damned if he don’t. They’ve tried several times to send him down the line to the train station, and he always seems to bounce back and find a way out of trouble.
You don’t strike me as a guy who would be intimidated or starstruck, but on the other hand, it’s Kevin Costner. How did you feel the first time you met him?
I don’t know if I was starstruck, but I was definitely — you know, this is somebody I’ve seen on screen since I was a young kid. I’ve watched his movies with my grandparents and my parents and friends. There’s a level of respect I have for that guy and all the things that he has done. His presence demands that, too — he doesn’t even have to say a word. Just kind of being in his space and around him, he’s a really inspiring human being.
Take us into the filming of the scene from Season 4 (Ep. 6) where Lloyd throws the knife into your chest. What did it take to make that look realistic?
The special effects and the costume designers and the blood and the gore of that stuff is so cool to be a part of and watch how they do that and how they implant the knife in you and all of that stuff. I remember they had a plastic hose that kind of ran up my back and under my shirt so when Hassie Harrison, that plays Laramie, when she pulls the knife out, the blood is supposed to squirt out. I remember the first couple of takes they had the pressure turned way up on that line so when she pulled that knife out it was like a Tarantino movie. Blood was spraying all over the room and all over everybody (laughs).
The other scene scene people remember you for from Season 4 is at the opposite end of the scale and takes a totally different set of skills as an actor. Just sitting there playing that song opposite Kelly Reilly and Beth when she’s having that emotional moment — she has that moment where she just unloads emotionally and you’re tasked with just soaking it up and being there for her. Was it a challenge to be supportive of a supporting character in that way?
It was a fairly heavy scene. For one, I wrote that song a long time ago and it’s a pretty heavy song for me. To kind of take it and put it into the context of what’s going into the show — it’s just interesting how these songs can relate on multiple levels to different people. I sometimes think about how I have my own experience when I write these songs and how they come about. Sometimes it feels like it’s something that’s getting channeled through me. You go out on the road and you play these songs for fans and people and you get to hear their stories and how they relate to the song.
I think it was a similar thing with Beth in the barn there — how these songs can kind of resonate with people and people can identify with them and whatever she was going through. I think I was just really trying to hold that space with her, for her character to express that.
On stage you’re the frontman, so you’re the star of the show. With that scene, it’s almost like you're the bass player or rhythm guitarist supporting the singer. That must be a different perspective.
It was, but it wasn’t. I’ve performed that song I don’t know how many times all across that country and other parts of the world, and I’ve looked down and I’ve seen the whole front row or at least several people in the front row in tears crying, feeling their emotions and seeing what they’re going through. Maybe I’m the star of the show when I’m on stage playing these shows, but it’s really the fans and the interaction that makes it happen.
How did you get involved with Lone River Ranch Water?
Myself and (founder) Katie Beal Brown, we’ve got a lot in common. We both live and breathe the culture of the American west and we grew up around a lot of the same stuff, a lot of the hard-working, ranching American lifestyle. It’s really just been a way of life for us and it’s cool to see how she’s created this brand that keeps the cowboy spirit alive. It’s been something I’ve been really proud of and proud to be a part of. I don’t do a lot of brand things and when this came up, it was a real no-brainer.
Give us a crumble of something juicy to think about as it pertains to Walker in Season 5 of Yellowstone.
I can tell you that he’s not dead yet (laughs).
You know, what’s funny about that is that almost like Beth, you’re a love-it-or-hate-it character. There are people who would like to see Walker killed.
Man, there’s a ton of people that want me to go to the train station for sure (laughs).