‘1883’: Billy Bob Thornton Delivers the Best Line in ‘Yellowstone’ Prequel Trailer

by Jon D. B.
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The first full trailer for 1883 reveals the first line from Billy Bob Thornton in character, and it also happens to be the best line bar none.

Friday would see the surprise drop of the first full official trailer for Paramount’s Yellowstone prequel, 1883. There’s a lot to digest within, but an undeniable highlight comes in the form of Hollywood icon Billy Bob Thornton.

For 1883, Thornton steps into the role of lawman Jim Courtright, a historical figure pulled straight from Texas’s true past. We’ve seen glimpses of him in costume before, but the trailer provides our first hint of dialogue for Courtright – and it does not disappoint.

As the lawman peruses a bloody saloon, he eyes a dead-silent room to pronounce:

“There’s only one killer in Fort Worth, and that’s me.”

Jim Courtright (Billy Bob Thornton), 1883

It may sound a bit ham-fisted out of context, but we’re betting on this line delivering in full after the scene goes down. This is Billy Bob Thornton in a Western we’re talking about, after all. Thornton’s delivery isn’t overstated or villainous. Instead, it’s a pitch-perfect moment so good that Paramount saved it to be the last line of the trailer.

The scene takes place after the 1:40 mark in the trailer, which we’ve jumpstarted for you below. But who is Jim Courtright, and why is he being included in 1883?

From Academy Award nominee Taylor Sheridan, co-creator of Yellowstone, 1883 follows the Dutton family as they embark on a journey west through the Great Plains toward the last bastion of untamed America. Staring Academy Award nominee Sam Elliott and country music stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

Paramount Plus

Meet Jim Courtright, Billy Bob Thornton’s Historical ‘1883’ Character

His name may not be as synonymous with the west as Jesse James, Butch Cassidy, or Billy the Kid, but Jim Courtright is as fascinating a man that ever lived through the Wild West.

It’s no coincidence nor random choice by series creator Taylor Sheridan to include Courtright in his prequel. The series is filming in Fort Worth, Texas, a place close to where Sheridan grew up and that’s dear to his heart. As the trailer highlights, the ancestral Duttons of 1883 begin the show in The Lone Star State. There, they will meet Thornton’s version of lawman Courtright early in the show’s proceedings.

In reality, some called him “Longhair Jim”. To others, he was “Big Jim” Courtright. But the real life figure was born Timothy Isaiah Courtright in Sangamon County, Illinois all the way back in 1848.

According to Jim Courtright of Fort Worth: His Life and Legend, Courtright would get his start gun-slinging by lying about his age and enlist in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Many publications cite Jim as a “rootless” young man after the war, too. He was a drifter and wanderer; one who knew no one single place for long.

Eventually, however, Courtright would indeed settle in Fort Worth, Texas. There, he would serve many roles: jailer, marshal, deputy sheriff, killer-for-hire, private detective, racketeer, and most famously: Deputy U.S. Marshal.

Through it all, Courtright would become known as one of the quickest draws in Western history. He’s a fascinating man; one Outsider covers extensively in our full breakdown here.

1883 hits Paramount Plus exclusively on December 19.