Josh Holloway on His 'Yellowstone' Fate: ‘Roarke Is Going to Get His’

·7 min read
Photo credit: Paramount Network
Photo credit: Paramount Network

Josh Holloway is coming down off a 19 hour road trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming—a quiet town of 10,000, surrounded by mountains, about 50 miles south of Yellowstone National Park. He tells me over the phone that he's settling back into cabin life there, pulling weeds in his garden and whatnot. For fans of Yellowstone, they might think this is bad news for Jackson Hole because the last time that Holloway famously showed up in Wyoming, his character Roarke tried to overtake the Dutton family's property for development.

But Holloway is not Roarke. Far from it, actually. Holloway and I are chatting on the phone because he has teamed up with High West Distillery for Great Outdoors Month. Together, they're promoting the new game Prairie Dash—a mobile game where you race pronghorn. For every game played, High West donates a dollar (up to $50,000) to American Prairie. Oh, and if you buy a bottle, 10 percent goes to American Prairie, too. This time Holloway is trying to save the wilderness. Yin and yang, you know?

Even if it's a bit ironic that the initiative is at odds with the character he plays on Yellowstone, Holloway fits the role of activist perfectly. As a self-described bourbon man and an outdoor enthusiast who's always down to teach someone how to fly fish, he hopped on the phone with Esquire to talk a little about fishing, the environment, and bourbon. Oh, and if you really don't like Roarke, fear not. Listen to the man himself: Roarke is going to get his.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Esquire: What's going on out in Wyoming today?

Josh Holloway: I just got up, went out and dug some weeds, because after you leave for a while you come back and things growing up everywhere. I love getting out in the yard and pulling weeds and digging around, acting like I live here.

I guess that's a great place to jump off because I wanted to ask how you came to partner with High West for the Great Outdoors Month.

They heard that I love bourbon. And I'm an outdoorsman, and there you go. We hooked up, and I love American Prairie. But I'm more of a bourbon guy than, say, rye. But I love them. Love their whiskey. And yeah, I'm all about the West. I'm a fly fishermen and an avid outdoorsman. So anything to do with conservation, I'm in.

I took a fly fishing course in college, but I never could quite get the craft down. So I stick to my bass and my crappie, but fly fishing? That's a whole different ball game.

I remember when I started, gosh, 30 years ago or 25 years ago. I drove straight up to Idaho and stopped at a fly shop and bought the gear, and the guy taught me in the parking lot. And then I went fishing. I couldn't catch shit though. And now, after 20 years or 25 years, I'm catching big hogs. I've got it, but it took me a long time. And slowly my numbers started to go up, and then the fish slowly started getting bigger. It's not hard. I can show you in a day how to catch a fish, but you're not going to catch them consistently or of any size until you figure that game out.

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It's almost like fly fishing and conservation go hand-in-hand because if you don't have the place around to fish, you need a solid 20 years to get your craft down so that you can get out there and actually catch it.

It's funny now that I've been a fly fisherman. So now, even when I go bass fishing with my little boy and I put a worm, on, I start to feel bad for the worm. I'm like, "Ugh." I'm so used to using flies, and then I catch the fish. I take a picture of them, and then I put them back. So I've gotten a little soft, I must admit.

The conservation goes hand-in-hand with the fly fishing as well because it's a very delicate balance, fisheries and nature in general, everything is connected. You take out one little insect, and you start to change the balance of the nature around.

It's funny that we're talking about conservation because your character in Yellowstone is obviously not interested in that at all. Is there anything exciting that you can share about the upcoming season, and also, did you blow Kelly Reilly up? Because I'm real upset about it.

What about Kelly Reilly?

Did you blow Kelly Reilly up at the end of the season? I know you can't answer that, but also, I need to know.

Did I blow her up? I will not answer that, but I will tell you Roarke is going to get his. He should have been more concerned with conservation. We'll see what happens to him. But Beth is awesome. What a great character. I wish I could tell you, but I can't tell you who or what did that situation, but you will find out. And like I said, yeah… Roarke's going to get his. No worries.

Photo credit: Danno Nell
Photo credit: Danno Nell

Fair enough, fair enough. Now back on the conservation front, there's a lot of competition for our attention right now for a lot of really important causes. But what is it, when it comes to conservation, that really hits home to you and what made this initiative all the more important?

Well, for me, nature is my church, if you will. I grew up in the Bible belt like you did, and it was church on Sunday and Wednesday night and revivals and all that. And that was not my way of connecting with my spirit. My way has always been nature. And when I get out into nature is where I really connect with my spirit, my soul, and God, if you will. You call it God, Allah, Buddha, the forest, whatever your door is.

But I connect there, and I'm able to work things out in my mind and my soul. And so I need it. I crave it. Without nature, I go bananas. So that's why I'm so into conservation of nature because that is my church. That's where I go.

And the West is a different kind of landscape entirely than where we grew up. It's a whole different world.

It is. And we just drove. 19 hours, it took. So we took a couple of days to get here, but I love that drive because you cross so many different terrains, right? From the desert to different kinds of deserts, to different kinds of prairies. And I bug my family all the time. I'm always like, "There were Buffalo out here before people." I always give them the facts.

But on our way to my fishing grounds out here, we have to pass a large prairie area. And because we go very early in the morning, we're always cruising at a speed that we can watch for the pronghorn, because they come across the road. They'll jump right across the road on you. So I have a specific love for the pronghorn as well. So I love this little game where you're doing your thumbs to try to get to 61 miles an hour because it makes me think of fishing, funny enough.

I have to ask you, how do you drink your bourbon?

I like it rocks. One rock. I like one big rock in it because I like to break up the bourbon a little bit. And I like it cold.

The best way to do it.

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