“1883” begins with a harrowing scene of Elsa Dutton waking up to destruction and fire. She wildly shoots her pistol in the direction of several rivals before getting an arrow through the stomach. We’re not sure when this takes place. Because we get a back story from there. However, while Elsa is indeed one tough chick, she also possesses an innocence that we witness throughout the first five episodes. And actress Isabel May says she’s fallen in love with her character.
Speaking in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, May opens up about how her character transitions throughout. The “1883” actress says playing Elsa is really fun because she’s full of layers which begin to peel back after she sees the harsher side of life.
This is most clearly witnessed after Elsa’s love, Ennis, is brutally shot and killed following a robbery from a team of bandits. She sees that life isn’t fair – and love doesn’t always endure.
Isabel May Discusses Evolution of Elsa Dutton
However, May says she likes the fact that Elsa experiences a bit of reality and that the transition is fun to play.
“As an actor, I was very excited for her to lose her innocence and that naive perspective on life that she had. I was very excited to jump into that other half of her, and I’d been stewing in the first four episodes for a little while. I was trying to be very patient with what some people might call her annoying level of optimism, considering all of the horrors that are happening around her,” May says.
She goes on to add, “So I was really excited at the prospect. Of course, I love this fictional character to death. It almost makes me emotional talking about her. I’ve genuinely fallen in love with a person that doesn’t exist and to see her in pain made me feel pain to a degree. That might sound like an annoying actor thing, but it’s weird how these people become like a family member to you. Their voice and their soul is embedded in you in a very strange way. It’s a fascinating thing that I don’t think about very often.”
“1883” Star Discusses Learning the Ropes
And further, Isabel May says she loves the versatility that embodies Elsa Dutton. It allowed her to learn new skills and portray a character who was different from anyone else. And when Taylor Sheridan put her to the test, she says she completely trusted him.
“Oh yeah! I trusted that,” she says of the experience with cowboy camp. “I’ve had a very comforting, happy, loving life and existence, so I find challenging work really intriguing and interesting and gratifying. So if I wasn’t put through the wringer, I would’ve been disappointed, to be honest. That’s what this is all about. I still get to walk away from it, but it’s fun to make yourself a little miserable.”
However, the actress also had to learn to ride a horse, which was a bit of a learning curve.
“I’d never ridden a horse before,” she continues. “I was born and raised in Los Angeles; I’ve spent most of my life in big cities like New York City and Los Angeles. So I didn’t have much experience with the outdoors.”