Although 1883 star LaMonica Garrett isn’t a part of the Dutton bloodline, he quickly became an essential part of the Yellowstone prequel series. Garrett portrays Thomas, the level-headed and goodhearted partner of Shea Brennan. And while Garrett is a natural at the role, he did do some extensive research before he appeared on set.
In fact, Garrett felt a responsibility to accurately represent the African American cowboys we rarely see in Western films and series.
“One in every four cowboys back then was African American, but you wouldn’t know that by watching television and film,” Garrett explained to Wide Open Country. “So being responsible and being the one that’s bringing this character to light, I wanted to do as much research as possible, and it helped me throughout this series.”
Garrett admitted that he did have some prior knowledge of African American cowboys, but he wanted to know more before playing one on 1883.
“I knew a lot about certain Black cowboys … the Nat Loves, the Bill Picketts, the Bass Reeves. And those are kind of the famous ones,” the 1883 star shared. “But there were so many other cowboys that contributed so much to bringing this country to what it was [but] their stories never came to the light of day.”
And his research didn’t end in the library. Garrett decided to take his education to the burial site of a real-life Black cowboy.
“So me and a few cast members … we went to the cemetery and just took it in and read what Bose Ikard did on his marker.”
‘1883’ Star Reflects on Cowboy Role
When Garrett first received the script from director Taylor Sheridan, the 1883 star admitted that he cried. The depth of his character astounded Garrett, and he quickly learned just how important his character’s relationship with Shea was to the series.
“He’s fiercely loyal. To me, when I read it, Thomas is the humanity of the show. He’s the soul of the show,” Garrett shared.
“He balances Shea…Shea can be the temperamental, impulsive kind of guy and Thomas is the cool and collected kind of guy. With that being said, he has a strong line in the dirt of right and wrong, respect and disrespect…he has that code and it comes from his background of being in the military, the order of command, and he’s very protective of Shea.”
Already, we’ve witnessed these traits in Thomas in the first couple of episodes of 1883. Thomas has seen Shea in his darkest moments and pulled him out just in time. He’s stood by him as the voice of reason when Shea’s emotions have taken over. Needless to say, Shea may not have been around for the storyline had he never met his partner.