'1923': James Badge Dale on How John Dutton Sr.'s Shocking Fate Will Impact the Family (Exclusive)

The actor breaks down the latest episode of the 'Yellowstone' prequel and if this is the last we've seen of him.

When James Badge Dale signed on for Paramount+'s 1923, he knew his time on the Yellowstone prequel was limited. The actor, who plays John Dutton's grandfather John Dutton Sr., said goodbye to the series after his character suffered fatal gunshot wounds following a violent gunfight in the latest episode.

"[Creator] Taylor [Sheridan] was very upfront with me. He was like, 'This is what I'm bringing you in to do and this is your job,'" Badge Dale told ET over Zoom on Wednesday afternoon. "I came in and tried to do my job to the best of my ability."

His character's death will undoubtedly have a deep impact on the surviving Duttons, who still aren't out of the woods yet as Jacob (Harrison Ford) fought to survive his gruesome war wounds. After the loss of John Sr., Jacob desperately implored Cara (Helen Mirren) to bring the nomadic war vet Spencer, John Sr.'s younger brother, home. 

"What's always interesting is the way things change from the page to when you actually show up to do it. There's a lot of logistics involved and you try your best to build this thing and you never know if you're successful until you see it. There's a lot of people and we put a lot of work into it and Taylor has a really strong vision and Ben Richardson is, he's our director and he facilitated it in a very beautiful, poetic way," Badge Dale said of how John Sr. goes out. "I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out."

The 44-year-old actor shared that the showdown between Jacob, John Sr. and their clan as they defended themselves against the vengeful Banner Creighton and his men took three full days to film, though Badge Dale revealed they lost two days due to smoke from nearby wildfires. 

"I was taken by the professionalism of the film crew, of the cast, especially the animal wranglers. When you're dealing with gunfire and animals, it is a very, very specific circumstance. And these horses have been trained. So, imagine a set that's actually very quiet and calm and then this time period we defer to the wranglers and we wouldn't yell, 'Action.' There would just be a signal. You just get up, you get on, you roll in, you're loading weapons. Everyone trusts each other," Badge Dale said, adding that the sequence "looked amazing" in the execution of the final product. "We know what we're doing. We've talked it through. It was a really, really great three days of work and it was done safely, and I appreciate that because that's what we try to do on film sets."

Emerson Miller/Paramount+

Badge Dale admitted he doesn't know what the future holds for the Duttons now that they're one man down, as John Sr.'s death presumably serves as the catalyst for Spencer to make his way back home, as well as sets off a whole slew of events and decisions the family will now be faced with.

"They only gave me the first three scripts, so now I'm like, 'Oh, I got to watch it!' So I'm excited to see what happens," he said, adding he has "no idea" what will happen in episode 4.

"I'll say this. I think the show is in excellent hands with excellent actors. I mean, obviously, I love Helen, Harrison, but my brother Spencer, [played by] Brendan Sklenar, he's an incredible young man and a beautiful actor and I couldn't be more proud of him. Darren Mann, who plays my son, he's incredible. He's an artist, he's a warrior. [The] show's in good hands," Badge Dale credited. 

And because John Sr. and Spencer never ended up being in the same scene together, Badge Dale revealed that he and Sklenar became close outside of work -- not necessarily discussing the brothers' backstory and relationship dynamics prior to Spencer leaving, but rather about life.

"Brendan and I would spend some time together. We would forego talking about what our characters have experienced and we would talk about what we have experienced and we would share those stories and we would connect on that level, which I believe, as an actor, is a very deep, deep connection," he said. "And so even though you don't ever see us on camera together, I feel like we feel deeply for each other. We're at very different points of our lives and I love him to death and I'm just excited for his future."

Even though he won't be in the 1923 universe anymore, Badge Dale theorized that Emma, John Sr.'s now-widow played by Marley Shelton, will have the most difficult time coming to terms with her husband's death. "That moment where she's sitting in the wagon with the bodies in the back and they're trying to help the people who are still breathing and you realize that she's not inside. This is where she is," he said of the heart-wrenching scene. 

As for whether viewers should be deeply concerned about Jacob's mortality and the chances of him surviving this severe wounds, Badge Dale indicated the Dutton patriarch can outlast anything -- even multiple gunshots. "Until you see that man stop breathing...," he quipped. "That's it. That's all I'm going to say."

Emerson Miller/Paramount+

Badge Dale recalled his time working opposite Ford as being a career highlight. "He was like a big brother to me and my two months with him riding horses in Montana and shooting guns, a memory I'll have for the rest of my life," he said. "And by the way, it's a learning experience. He gave me a lot and I'm very grateful for him."

The actor, who starred in Hightown, Rubicon and The Pacific, elaborated on what he learned from Ford.

"Hard work pays off and preparation pays off, but also humility and gratitude. And that was what I was struck with the most, is that this man is standing there at 80 years old and every day was precious and dear to him," Badge Dale recollected. "He would remind me how lucky we are to be where we are doing what we are doing because it's a dream come true. And we talked about how hard you have to work to get to this level. There's a lot of us out there; there's a lot of actors. There's only so many roles and you're grateful for when you're there. Every day was the best day ever."

Now that Badge Dale is officially "off the clock" from 1923, he shared what he's most interested in as the season continues.

"What I'm really excited to see is how Aminah [Nieves]' character [Teonna] fits into all of this. She's doing career-making work on this show and she's just a powerhouse of a young actress and I got a feeling she's going to be a very important part of this," Badge Dale posited. "How does Spencer get home? It's a very long journey. But also, my good buddy, Brian Geraghty, a fireball of an actor. I know he's got some cool stuff coming up, so I'm excited. I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the ride."

For now, it appears Badge Dale has closed the chapter on the Yellowstone prequel, sharing that the episode that dropped Sunday was his last appearance -- for now.

"I'm a part of the family. If you're going to see me again, it has not been written yet," he said. "I came to work and this was what Taylor asked me to do. And so that's what I showed up to do and I had a great time doing it. So if John Sr. comes back, maybe he'll go back in time and get another actor who's in his 20s to play him. I'm grateful for my time and it's nice to be part of the family."

New episodes of 1923 drop Sundays on Paramount+.