‘1883’: Faith Hill Explains How Margaret Wanted ‘Freedom’ Elsa Experienced

by Courtney Blackann

Margaret Dutton is no weak woman. She shows time and time again that she has what it takes to make it in the bandit-filled pastures of the western frontier. Yet actress Faith Hill explains that her “1883” character wishes she could have had the freedom that Elsa had throughout their journey.

In a behind-the-scenes look at Episode 2 of “1883,” Hill discusses how Margaret felt about her daughter becoming more of a cowboy than a lady. Arguably, it would be difficult to maintain the standards of society as a woman traveling the Great Plains. And Elsa evolves into a respected woman and cowgirl in her own right.

Yet it’s Margaret, driving a covered wagon and raising her two children, who ties the family together. But still, she wishes she could also have some of Elsa’s freedom of expression during their journey.

Speaking on camera, Hill says it’s not that she’s jealous of Elsa, she just wishes she could have similar opportunities as her daughter.

This is also apparent when James Dutton (Tim McGraw) says he needs Elsa to saddle up her horse and ride with the cowboys, helping herd the cattle. Margaret asks him how she can to turn Elsa into a lady if she’s off riding with cowboys all the time. But James simply responds that they need the extra help.

Faith Hill Expresses How It’s “Life or Death” on the Trail in “1883”

Despite this, Margaret shows strength and independence plenty of times throughout the journey. She not only helps immigrants cross the Brazos River, she drives a covered wagon, shoots a gun and proves she can handle an afternoon of drinks with a new friend.

Not only this, but Margaret also shows extreme strength through her daughter’s illness and passing – something no parent should have to go through.

Additionally, through all of this, Margaret’s journey shows her perseverance. And Faith Hill explains that “1883” gave women a chance to showcase their own plight – and how it’s one of the only times men and women were equals.

“We make it seem so grand. But the truth is is it really is life or death,” Hill said of the lives of women in that period. “Whether it’s being accidentally killed falling off of a wagon, run over, shot, something you’ve eaten, the water that you drank. Sometimes there was no food. For women, you had to take on the responsibilities of what, at that time, a man would do. You’d have to pick up a gun and use it.”

Hill also goes on to share:

“That journey is one of the few times men and women were ever balanced. There was no other alternative,” she said.