‘1883’: Sam Elliott Delivers Powerful Message About Why the ‘Western Genre Speaks To’ Him and Creator Taylor Sheridan

by Suzanne Halliburton

Sam Elliott seems like a natural fit for 1883, the Yellowstone prequel which will tell the story of how the Dutton family found its way to Montana.

There was breaking news in regards to 1883 announced Wednesday afternoon. We now know who will lead the Taylor Sheridan show. Elliott will portray an old cowboy leading a group from Texas to Montana. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, real-life husband and wife, will play characters married to each other. They are James and Margaret Dutton, who started the Montana branch of the family fans love on Yellowstone.

Elliott is Shea Brennan, who directs a group of settlers to Montana. Back in 1883, Montana wasn’t even a state. That wouldn’t come for six more years. There is much to explore in the series. Montana, which was then a United States territory, is a perfect setting for a western. Taylor Sheridan, who created Yellowstone, also will write 1883.

“I think the western genre speaks clearly to both of us,” Elliott said of himself and Sheridan. “The classic struggles of man against man, man against nature, and man against himself. It’s all there, in 1883, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Taylor Sheridan Can Pull from Rich History to Create 1883

The show will have so many real-life events to pull from for its 1883 series. The first people to inhabit Montana were Native Americans. There were numerous tribes, including the Crows and Blackfeet, who lived and thrived in Montana.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition sent white explorers to the state. That was in 1804-06. Then came the traders and fur trappers. Eventually, Catholic missionaries made it to Montana. According to state history, the missionaries set up Saint Mary’s Mission, the first permanent settlement. Then the discovery of gold brought so many more folks to the Montana territory.

Native Americans started battling with the U.S. Army. At about the same time, cattle ranchers began using the land.

It all sets up perfectly for 1883 and the arrival of the Duttons, who left their homes to escape poverty. Elliott’s Brennan also is trying to escape the memories of a tragedy in his past.

Elliott, 76, established himself long ago as the perfect actor to play a cowboy, whether he’s portraying a person who lives in today’s times or very long ago. Although Elliott was born in California and grew up in Oregon, his family traces its history back to Texas. Going back six generations, Elliott’s ancestors were in Texas when the settlers fought Mexico in 1836 for their independence.

The outline for 1883 describes Elliott as “a tough as nails, handsome cowboy with immense sadness in his past.”

No doubt, Elliott’s marvelous voice will narrate and soothe the travelers as they leave Texas and head to Montana. 1883 can’t premiere soon enough.