‘1883’: How Sam Elliott Cheered Up a Nervous Extra After She Spilled a Pitcher of Water on Him

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

A first day at the office is a nerve-wracking experience, regardless of your chosen profession. However, there’s a special level of nerves that comes with acting, especially if you’re new to the field. It’s easy to forget, but actors are fans just like us. And when a particular project requires working with an actor as legendary as 1883 star Sam Elliott, it’s not uncommon for new actors to report feeling starstruck.

This was the case with the production of an episode of 1883, during which an extra was so nervous that she accidentally spilled water all over Sam Elliott. In a recent interview with Cowboys & Indians, Eric Nelsen, who plays Ennis in 1883, detailed the scene.

“It’s my first introduction scene in Episode 1,” Nelsen begins. “And at the top of the scene, an extra is supposed to come in, pour us water, and then leave the scene. Well, she was so nervous because, of course, I’m at the table with Sam Elliott. And she comes over, and the first take, right out the gate, she’s shaking. And she spills the water all over the table, all over us.”

Now, what do you think Sam Elliott’s reaction looked like? We’ve all heard the horror stories about actors screaming, cursing, even trying to fight fellow actors during particularly stressful situations. Well, this couldn’t be further from what happened with Sam Elliott, who was nothing but kind to the horrified actress.

How ‘1883’ Star Sam Elliott Handled the Incident

Eric Nelsen remembers thinking, “Oh man, this isn’t good. An actor like Sam Elliott, who’s focused and trying to get this done and expects professionalism and yada, yada, yada — I bet he’s not going to be happy because he got wet.”

However, that’s not at all what happened. Instead, Elliott “stops everybody. He can see that this extra’s in the corner, just shaking and nervous, and can’t believe she’s got to come do this again. Well, he gets up, he gives her the biggest hug. He talks to her for about 15 minutes.”

Nelsen recalls that he wasn’t sure what Elliott said to the extra, or what she said in return. All he knows is that after their conversation, she came back to film the scene with confidence and a smile on her face.

“And that just showed me, right away, the kind of man that he is,” Nelsen concludes. “He made her feel so good and so welcome, and that he was just a normal person, just like she is. And there’s nothing to be nervous about, and you’ve got this, and gave her the whole pep talk. And she came back and was phenomenal from that point on. So that’s just a little look into who Sam Elliott is.