‘1923’ Star Helen Mirren Reveals Why American Westerns Annoy Her
The Yellowstone universe continues growing as Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren join yet another prequel introducing another generation of Duttons. In the Western drama series 1923, Mirren and Ford play Cara and Jacob Dutton. But the English actor recently revealed what annoys her about many American Westerns.
‘1923’ takes place during Prohibition
1923 is set 40 years after the events of 1883 and Elsa Dutton’s death. Harrison Ford’s character, Jacob, is the patriarch of the Dutton ranch and is married to Cara. Jacob and Cara don’t have children, but they raise their nephews Spencer and John as their own.
The prequel follows the Duttons as they navigate hard times from drought to Prohibition and the early stages of the Great Depression that took its toll on Montana even before the 1929 Stock Market Crash. 1923 premiered on Paramount+ on Dec. 18, 2022, with Ford and Mirren in the lead.
Actor Brandon Sklenar plays Spencer — Jacob and Cara’s nephew and James’ son. He’s a World War I veteran with PTSD. His character appeared in Yellowstone‘s flashback episodes set in 1893, played by Charlie Stover. Julia Schlaepfer plays Alexandra, an eccentric Brit who meets Spencer in Africa. Darren Mann plays Jacob’s great-nephew Jack, who’s depicted as loyal to his family.
Michelle Randolph portrays his feisty fiancé, Elizabeth Strafford. Brian Geraghty stars as Zane Davis, the Dutton ranch’s fiercely loyal ranch foreman. And Timothy Dalton joins the cast as Donald Whitfield, a business tycoon who likes getting what he wants.
‘1923’ star Helen Mirren finds Westerns annoying because the people are ‘simply American’
Mirren sat down with AARP in November 2022 to discuss her life and career. When the conversation steered toward her role as Cara Dutton in Yellowstone‘s second prequel, Mirren said, “I grew up watching Wagon Train on my neighbor’s television. But one thing that has always annoyed me about Westerns is that the people were all simply American. There were no immigrants.”
1923 is filmed in Butte, Montana, and the Red actor believes the cosmopolitan city should have had a “cacophony of accents” given the number of people immigrating from different places. The 77-year-old star said she used this information to give her character some dimension and depth. “I thought it would be good if Cara were an immigrant,” Mirren explained.
Mirren said she gave Cara an Irish accent because she wanted the character to be like her. “[I’m] working on the theory that Cara never really lost that accent when she got here, which feels a bit like me. I had an accent coming to America, and I’ve never lost it,” the actor said.
She reiterated the statement in another interview with The Times, saying her choice of dialect in the Yellowstone prequel came from her frustration over accents she had seen in Westerns.
“It always annoyed me about American Westerns that everybody spoke with American accents,” Mirren explained. “They were all immigrants — so this incredible mix of accents and cultures and food. And that is very much what created America.”
Helen Mirren drank with cowboys during her 1st visit to the American West in 1968
In the AARP interview, Mirren also recounted arriving in the American West on a trip with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1968.
“A handful of us took the train. The train went through slowly. It didn’t whiz through. That gave me a view and vision of America which I had never seen,” she recalled.
The actor remembered stopping in Cheyenne. Before resuming her journey to Detroit, she headed into a bar and had drinks with cowboys.
Unfortunately, she didn’t pick up any horse-riding skills from the real-life cowboys. Mirren said she lost her riding ability and told 1923‘s producers as much when she signed on to the gig. However, she claimed to be a “pretty good buggy driver,” a knack she picked up in Butte while working with 1923‘s horse wrangler.