From her blue dress, innocent demeanor and dramatic transformation, 1883 fans thought that Elsa Dutton’s character felt a little familiar.
Think back to when you first saw the pilot episode of Westworld. A similar, bright-eyed, blond-haired woman stole the hearts of the audience. Then she quickly began to shed her naive perspective of the world. That woman was Dolores, the Westworld robot that gained consciousness and rebelled against the cruel and unfair conditions of her world.
There’s no denying that the western belles have a few key characteristics in common. And while that might be a compliment to young Elsa, who has only just begun her journey in 1883, some fans found the comparison too jarring. So, they took to Reddit to discuss the two personas.
“Anyone else feel like Elsa is a direct rip off of Dolores from West World,” one 1883 watcher asked. “The inner monologues, the verbiage used is nearly idnetical [sic] and holds the same importance on both shows. Even the actual monologue of waking from a dream to a new un-explored world is nearly indetical [sic]. Heck they even have on nearly the exact same dress and of course their physcial [sic] appearances are a pretty close match.”
It’s true that Taylor Sheridan, creator of 1883, and Jonathan Nolan, creator of Westworld, both used the same narration techniques. And both Elsa and Dorothy’s words always carried an ominous tone.
Another 1883 fan added, “And finally, I can foresee Ennis’ death ‘awakening’ her and turning her into a machine void of feelings with a knack for murdering.”
‘1883’ Director Reveals Inspiration Behind Elsa Dutton
Fans began to wonder if Dorothy was the inspiration behind the 1883 heroine. And while there are certainly some notable similarities, the true inspiration behind Elsa Dutton was the actress, Isabel May, herself.
According to Sheridan, when he first met May, she was auditioning for a different role for Mayor of Kingstown. This was before he put 1883 on paper, but he had the idea for the show in the works. May was hoping to get the role of Iris. At the time, Sheridan didn’t think May was right for the part, but he knew he needed her for his new western series.
“When I met Isabel, the whole story, all 10 episodes, went right through my head,” Sheridan said.
May, too, recalled that life-changing conversation, noting, “I got a phone call and he said, ‘I haven’t written it yet but you’re Elsa and I want you to be Elsa, do you want to be Elsa?'”
Thanks to May’s sunny disposition and profound view of the world, she helped give life to the western series that we know and fervently watch today.