LaMonica Garrett is an undeniable highlight of 1883 as Thomas, and the versatile actor has become a wealth of information on the time period.
As I’d find out interviewing LaMonica Garrett before 1883’s release, the man holds a deep passion for Westerns. Garrett grew up inhaling the classic genre. But like so many who share his heritage, he never saw a face like his. 1883 changes all of that, and Garrett brought his A-Game in researching the world Thomas came from just as much as he did acting through it.
“Some prep material I used for Thomas…” the star tweets from Weatherford, Texas this Monday morning. Within, Garrett includes three fascinating non-fiction books:
- Black Cowboys in the American West: On the Range, on the Stage, Behind the Badge by Bruce A. Glasrudand Michael N. Searles
- Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves (Race and Ethnicity in the American West) by Art T. Burton
- The Life and Adventures of Nat Love (Blacks in the American West) by Nat Love
“1-in-every-4 cowboys throughout the 1800s were Black,” Garrett told me during our 1883 roundtable discussion. “There were Black cowboys,” he emphasized. Many of them, in fact. Yet “In every, every show I’ve seen… I haven’t seen any [Black cowboys] growing up. We were there, and if I just focus on that, the other stuff will fall into place.”
And fall into place it did. Garrett imbues Thomas with a sense of scarred history all his own. He’s gruff but immensely kind-hearted. He lived America’s worst horrors but hasn’t lost his optimistic heart. And it all comes from the incredible, tragic, and telling history captured in the tomes above (and others like them).
LaMonica Garrett Felt the Full Importance of Representing Buffalo Soldiers for ‘1883’
Speaking to the history above, “It started out big for me, and it just kept getting bigger,” Garrett continued for Outsider. And when I asked him how it felt to put that historic uniform on for the first time, he opened up completely.
“It takes you to a different time, man,” he smiled wide. “Putting on the Buffalo Soldier Sergeant uniform for the first time… You put that on, and it hit me in a certain way when we were in Fort Worth and there were hundreds of background actors. We’re all hanging out, and a handful of the black background actors came up to me and said ‘Hey man, how does it feel? How does it feel to wear the Buffalo Soldier’s Jacket?'” he beams.
LaMonica Garrett “already knew it was significant, but knowing what it means not just to myself but so many other people – and to represent it in such a strong manner [through 1883] is special,” he offered.
“To represent this history in such a strong manner. [Thomas] has these principles, he has an honor to himself and the way he carries himself,” the 1883 star describes. “It’s easy to get up and work when you have that to work with.”