There’s a reason why Lloyd Pierce, the knowledgeable, tough, and endearing ranch hand on Taylor Sheridan’s “Yellowstone,” gives his scenes such a sense of realism. It turns out that Forrie J. Smith, the actor who plays the long-time Dutton employee, is a real-life cowboy with decades of expertise under his large-buckled belt. The actor, who was born in Helena, Montana, discovered his vocation when he was six years old after falling off a horse and telling his mother and stepfather that he wanted to be a stuntman, according to Rodeo News. Smith, a rodeo competitor who was raised on his grandparents’ ranch outside of the state capital of Montana, did in fact make it to Hollywood as a horse and stuntman.
Smith spoke to the publication about his experience in the circuit and said, “I rode 17 horses in a single day and 11 bulls in a single day. My life has been successful in every way thanks to rodeo.” Smith’s prior experience helped him both as a stuntman and an actor, and throughout his long career in show business, he has returned to the saddle numerous times. Perhaps for this reason, audiences instantly recognise the charismatic and occasionally enigmatic Lloyd Pierce. Beginning in the late 1980s, the actor was cast as the lead in a number of television movies, TV shows, and films. In each of them, he was able to demonstrate his versatility as a performer.
Forrie J. Smith broke out of the gate in 1993’s Tombstone
Forrie J. Smith has a number of unimportant jobs under his belt by 1993. (including playing a sidekick in the 1987 television special, “Desperado”). When he took on the part of Pony Deal in “Tombstone,” written by Kevin Jarre, he was best recognised for his performance as a stuntman in “Rambo III.”
A full encyclopaedia of upcoming actors could be found all over the semi-historical Western, including Thomas Haden Church (“Spider-Man 3”), Michael Rooker (“The Walking Dead”), John Corbett (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”), and Billy Zane (“Titanic”). During the iconic 1881 shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, gunslingers and occasional lawmen Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday were involved, according to the movie (via History). It charged actors Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell with bringing the historical personalities to life as Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, respectively. The all-star cast was rounded out by Bill Paxton as Morgan and Sam Elliott as cowboy icon Virgil Earp. Despite being produced decades after the Hollywood Western craze initially took off, it nevertheless holds up as a masterpiece of the genre, despite not earning Kilmer the Oscar nomination many fans believed he deserved (via Outsider).
Despite playing a non-speaking ensemble part in the criminal Clanton Gang (a group of cowboys led mostly by Michael Biehn’s memorable meanie Johnny Ringo), Smith was able to demonstrate his stage presence because to the success of the movie.
Forrie J. Smith died a hard death in Midnight, Texas
Forrie J. Smith contributed his own Western flair to NBC’s “Midnight, Texas” in 2018. (based on the trilogy from “True Blood” writer Charlaine Harris). Outsiders who fall under the group primarily due to their magical traits are protected in Midnight. According to the series’ summary, “Midnight is a mysterious safe haven for individuals who are strange, from vampires and witches to psychics and hit men” (via Den of Geek). The now-cured Reverend Emilio Sheehan (or “Rev”), played by Yul Vazquez, was once a “weretiger” (like a werewolf, but…not). The genesis of Sheehan’s identity is revealed, and viewers can observe him grappling with his past in the episode “To Witch Hell and Back.”
After getting a flat tyre in the middle of the night, the actual Reverend Emilio Sheehan, a priest and cowboy who is played by Smith, was slain by the transformed weretiger years earlier. The pre-cured weretiger assumed the persona of the priest when he reverted to his human form, tormented with remorse and determined to atone. Even though Smith’s role in “Yellowstone” met with a messy ending, it almost seems insignificant in comparison to some of the violence the character witnessed while serving the Duttons.
It’s evident from his compelling portrayal of Lloyd that Smith doesn’t have any trouble using his riding, wrangling, and ranching skills to enhance both his on-screen performances and his off-screen resume. Smith’s skills come from his lifelong experience as a genuine cowboy and frequently manifest themselves in the form of his work as both a stunt man and additional crew.
Forrie J. Smith showed-off his acting skills in Perdita Durango
Forrie J. Smith appeared in filmmaker Lex de la Iglesia’s critically praised dark comedy “Perdita Durango” with Javier Bardem, Rosie Perez, and James Gandolfini four years after playing a rowdy cowboy in “Tombstone.” When Armendariz, played by Smith, arrives on the scene with a gun (or several firearms), he makes an effort to reason with Romeo Dolorosa, a fellow criminal, before being shot and murdered by DEA Agent Dumas (Gandolfini).
Despite the scene’s brief duration, Smith was able to fully inhabit and portray a character who had a vague sense of a past. The movie’s cult following gave the already productive and in-demand “extra crew” cowboy an opportunity to showcase his acting skills. The previous year, Tom Selleck hit Smith in the face during a brief scene in the made-for-TV film “Ruby Jean and Joe,” in which Smith delivered a few inebriated lines at a birthday celebration. But compared to his shootout in Perdita Durango, it was hardly the actor’s most memorable on-screen experience.
Forrie Smith guest-starred in Better Call Saul
By the year 2017, Forrie J. Smith had made a name for himself as the person casting directors turned to when they needed a real-life wrangler and horseman who could also deliver a line. He helped the cast of Baltasar Kormákur’s “2 Guns,” starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, in 2013 by lending his expertise in animal handling. He collaborated on the 2016 Chris Pine-starring film “Hell or High Water” as an animal wrangler with future “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan. Smith was able to exploit that experience to get prominent roles in several television programmes, including the “Breaking Bad” spin-off, “Better Call Saul,” even though it would be difficult to recognise him in either movie.
Smith plays the owner of Five J’s Auto Salvage’s junkyard in the Season 3 premiere of the show, titled “Mabel.” He assists private eye Michael Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) with a crucial gas cap query and hails him a cab. With difficulty pronouncing the name “Ehrmantraut” in his interaction with the cab company, Smith’s mild drawl in character will be recognised by “Yellowstone” viewers. However, Smith also added one more television series to his resume the same year he made his acting debut as Lloyd Pierce, a retired rodeo performer and sage old ranch hand.
Smith anchored a pivotal scene in Transamerica
Even though Forrie J. Smith only had a brief appearance in Duncan Tucker’s Oscar-nominated film “Transamerica,” his remark in the scene serves as a catalyst for a pivotal moment for the characters of the story. In the film, Bree (Felicity Huffman), a devout, traditional lady preparing money for sex reassignment surgery, is forced by her therapist to find the son she unintentionally fathered while still in college.
As she is unable to explain the true nature of her connection to her street-hustler son teen, Bree travels to New York to find said son (Toby, played by Kevin Zegers), but instead of finding him, she poses as a Christian caseworker who “specialises in converting sex workers to Jesus” (via Roger Ebert). The two set out on a cross-country adventure to Los Angeles and stop at Sammy’s Wigwam, an Arizona roadside market, along the way.
Sammy, played by Smith, assumes the troubled teenager is the woman’s child (accurately, unbeknownst to Toby), and when Toby curses at Bree, Smith’s character corrects him. Toby, who just recently learned that Bree is transgender (but still doesn’t know that she fathered him in her previous life as “Stanley”), blows up when Smith says, “You mind your words around your mother.” He responds, “She is not my mother; she is not anyone’s mother; she is not even a real lady; she has a d**k.”
It’s a crucial point in the progression of the characters’ relationship because it confirms Bree’s worries (and the reasons behind her deception of Toby) and shows how much the two already resemble parents and children. The two then engage in a poignant conversation in which Bree’s character defends her religious convictions by stating that, despite the fact that her “body may be a work in progress,” there is “nothing wrong with (her) soul.” Smith’s success after his performance in “Transamerica” is another evidence that, in some cases, quality and importance matter more than quantity when it comes to screen time.
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