This completely makes sense to me because, as a huge “1883” fan, I also found myself questioning this detail. If you noticed Ennis and his partner Wade early on, they looked like they rolled out of a barn and found their way on a horse. I can only imagine how a 19th-century cowboy would smell, especially in Texas. But apparently, fans took notice of Ennis’ (Eric Nelsen) pearly whites. Or the fact they were too white.
Creator Taylor Sheridan is known for his dedication to authenticity. So it seems unlikely that he wouldn’t notice the discrepancy with Ennis’ teeth. For a cowboy in the 1880s, having beautifully straight, white teeth wasn’t really a thing. But actor Eric Nelsen has a gorgeous smile with incredibly white teeth. And producers of the show were aware of this.
The “1883” actor says that while he was in hair and makeup for the part, they did try to dull his smile – that is, until Taylor Sheridan noticed and put an immediate stop to it.
“Day one,” Nelsen says, speaking with the Dutton Rules podcast, “makeup threw some junk on there and I walked out and smiled at Taylor (creator Taylor Sheridan) and he goes, ‘Take that off, right now.'”
He goes on to say that:
“He wasn’t having it. It might be a little white for back then but you know, he had a vision and he knew what he wanted to see. That was discussed and that was put out there, but that’s not what he wanted, so here we are.”
The Tragic End of “1883’s” Ennis
And when Sheridan gives his feedback, you follow it. Though Ennis tragically dies in the fifth episode of the series, he remains a fan favorite. We were all rooting for his romance with Elsa Dutton to continue to flourish. However, that’s not how Sheridan saw his drama continuing, much to Nelsen’s chagrin.
If you found yourself crying inconsolably at the shocking end of episode five of “1883,” you’re also not alone. Nelsen says the feeling on set was pretty heavy. He also relays that filming was difficult both logistically and emotionally.
“It’s incredibly difficult [to act dead], actually,” said Eric Nelsen to Outsider. “You’d think you’re just laying there with your eyes closed, but there is so much emotion happening. It honestly took everything I had not to cry each take. I mean, I’m supposed to be laying there, passed away. So obviously I can’t be crying and feeling the emotions that Elsa’s giving, but when she’s screaming and holding onto me and laying on my chest and I’m thinking through what just happened, it took every ounce for me not to lose it every single time we shot it.
He further adds:
“So it was very difficult. And there’s a heaviness on set at times like that and everybody feels it. I mean, camera operators are crying, directors are crying. So nobody there is feeling peachy. And so that hangs and everybody feels that. And as a group, I think we all were on the page. So it’s difficult, but it’s emotional and provokes a lot of feelings within one’s self. So the more powerful moments you get to experience on set are very special times.”