Hugh Dillon Details Long History With Taylor Sheridan, From ‘Flashpoint’ to ‘Yellowstone’

Hugh Dillon in 'Flashpoint'
Ben Mark Holzberg / © CBS / courtesy everett Collection

Hugh Dillon’s professional relationship with Taylor Sheridan — the two co-created Mayor of Kingstown (Season 2 premieres January 15 on Paramount+) — goes way back.

You likely know that Dillon starred on Sheridan’s Yellowstone as Sheriff Donnie Haskell, John Dutton’s (Kevin Costner) friend who died during a hold-up at a diner. The drama just scored its first major award win, with Costner taking home the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Drama. That was “well deserved,” Dillon tells TV Insider.

And when it comes to Haskell’s death, that was a result of what no one else knew at the time: Mayor of Kingstown being sold. “I remember Taylor saying, ‘you need to produce. I need you to learn how to do this. I want you to come and finish work on Yellowstone, but you’re going on to Mayor. I’ve written you an honorable death, and you need to nail this scene, and Kevin’s coming in, and here’s what’s happening,'” Dillon recalls.

Haskell had John call his daughter though he died before she answered, leaving the Dutton patriarch to explain what happened. “It was just a beautifully written scene, like everything he writes. And it was just an honor to do it,” Dillon adds. “He wrote this heart-wrenching tear-jerker of a death scene. And as an actor, that is the best death scene I’ve ever been a part of. And then to jump to Ian, [a scene early on in Season 2] is the best scene I’ve ever shot, period. And so I’m profoundly grateful that Taylor discovered his writing talent and just persevered. He had dreams, and this is what I always hoped for him, that he would be able to do all this. And I’m so glad that they finally got the recognition with Costner and the Golden Globes.”

Hugh Dillon in 'Mayor of Kingstown'

Marni Grossman/ViacomCBS

But Dillon and Sheridan worked together before Yellowstone (which premiered in 2018) and the 2017 film Wind River. “Taylor Sheridan coached me on every episode of [Flashpoint, which premiered in 2008]. He was my acting coach. He got me that show. People don’t realize that’s how far we go back,” Dillon shares. (And if you wish we’d gotten more of that show — like us — you’re not the only one. “Me too,” the star admits. “I love that show.”)

But before he took on the role of the Strategic Response Unit’s Ed Lane on Flashpoint, he’d been used to playing bad guys. That changed with his move to Los Angeles. “It was Vera Farmiga. I’d done this movie in New York with Debra Granik called Down to the Bone. And Vera said, ‘you’ve gotta clean up your act and stop f**king around and go to L.A.,'” according to Dillon.

And when he did, he met Sheridan, who told him to look into taking on law enforcement roles. “He said, ‘you’ve got these roles that have nothing to do with you, and in the system, they will just send you out on auditions. You waste all your time. You’ll get burned out. Whereas if you look and there’s a couple of good cop roles and a couple of good, bad guy roles, if we just focus on them, you’re gonna land one of these, and then you can pay your rent and pay everything else. And then you can do this, and then you can work on this Mayor of Kingstown idea you have,'” Dillon says.

That’s what he did. “I just followed his direction like I do to this day. You’ve gotta trust somebody. And I trusted him, and then he saw it. Because he writes so well, he could read and dissect a script so well, so when he saw the Flashpoint script, he went, ‘this is a good show. You should go for this,'” he continues, adding that by looking at his credits, you’ll be able to see where Sheridan’s influence began.

So when it came time for Yellowstone, Sheridan knew that Dillon could come in and play Haskell. “And Costner was great,” Dillon adds. Then when it came time for him to move over to Mayor of Kingstown, “I looked at a couple of roles and then it was just like we had to slot it in and then [Taylor] goes, ‘you know, if you play Ian, we could just get this up and going.’ And I was like, f**k yeah. Because it was named after my friend Ian Goodfellow, so I liked it because it was an homage to my friend who passed away when he was 27.”

And so with all that history, “I know the person that is Taylor Sheridan. He wants everybody to succeed and bring their best, and he knows what you’re capable of,” Dillon shares.

Mayor of Kingstown, Season 2 Premiere, Sunday, January 15, Paramount+