‘1883’ Star Eric Nelsen Explained Why Cowboy Camp Made Stars ‘Authentic Cowboys’

by Courtney Blackann

Before they crossed the frontier in search of a new life, the real-life actors from “1883” had to endure Taylor Sheridan’s Cowboy Camp. The purpose? To turn them into real cowboys. And actor Eric Nelsen says that the prep really helped him transform into an ‘authentic cowboy.

Speaking in a special behind-the-scenes look at Cowboy Camp, the “1883” cast opened up about the highs and lows of the grueling training. And according to many of them, they walked away with some real skills when it comes to riding horseback.

In fact, Eric Nelsen mentions that there were several times he was running into barbed wire, getting cut and feeling fairly sore after a day of camp.

“This training creates, you know, an authentic cowboy because the blisters are real, the cuts are real. You know, I’m running into barbed wire fences on my horse,” he says.

Despite appearing in only half the season due to his untimely death (RIP Ennis), Nelsen says that his “1883” training will stay with him for a long time. He was busy herding cattle alongside James Landry Hebert and Isabel May for many scenes – and he had to know the part.

Eric Nelsen on “1883” Character’s Departure

When he initially arrived, Nelsen says he was confident in his skillset. But that changed slightly when he was put to the test.

“But then we got to cowboy camp,” Nelsen said. “I was pretty confident coming into it because I was like, ‘Oh, I know horses and I feel okay with this.’ And boy, I learned real quick, I had a long way to go still. The level at which these cowboys [ride], who we were training with, who are some of the best in the entire world, it’s just mind blowing,” the “1883” actor says.

He goes on to add:

“But needless to say, day in and day out, for three weeks, all day long, riding, roping, shooting. If anything, it got us out of our heads. We weren’t worried about the riding, so we were able to really focus on the work and our characters and being in the moment.”

Additionally, Nelsen quickly became a fan favorite with his charming demeanor and sweet love for Elsa Dutton (Isabel May). The actor perfectly portrayed Ennis, the goofy and likable cowboy who had a tender heart.

However, after learning of Ennis’ fate, Nelsen was completely heartbroken his character wouldn’t continue on.

When I got cast, I had no idea. Once I was sent all the scripts, I finally started to read them. When I came to the end of Episode 5, I lost it,” the “1883” star reveals. “I was emotional and crying and just in disbelief. I ran to Taylor’s house and I said, ‘Taylor, why? Can’t we change this, please?’” Nelsen laughs.

The “1883” star continues:

“It all makes sense in the scheme of things. Although Ennis’s death is incredibly heart wrenching and sad, it is a turning point for the series and for Elsa. It had to happen this way, unfortunately for me!”