‘1883’: Sam Elliott Praises Billy Bob Thornton as a ‘Powerful’ Actor

by Allison Hambrick
(Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images for for Paramount+)

In a behind-the-scenes clip, 1883 actor Sam Elliott opened up about working with costar Billy Bob Thornton, whose acting he praised.

“He’s a powerful actor,” said Elliott in the video. “It’s hard to take your eye off of him.”

Thornton played Jim Courtright, a ruthless sheriff, in the Yellowstone spinoff.

“When Billy Bob came in and did a day, it was incredible to see him again because I haven’t seen him since we Tombstone together,” the Grace & Frankie star added. “He is always brilliant.”

Tim McGraw also discussed working alongside Thornton: “I got so caught up into watching Billy Bob perform because it was so understated and so cool that I didn’t say my line, walked out the door, and went ‘Oh, I had a line I was supposed to give to Sam.”

1883 Star Billy Bob Thornton Joins Series From Yellowstone Creator

Additionally, Thornton recently scored a role on the upcoming series Land Man. The television show joins the impressive lineup of shows from 1883 creator Taylor Sheridan. Interestingly, the writer-director first conceptualized the show with Thornton in mind as the lead.

“I developed it for Billy Bob Thornton. He’s a crisis manager for an oil company,” Sheridan said, before explaining the creative process behind his shows.

“Write 10-hour movies and go shoot them,” explained the Yellowstone creator. “It’s still challenging, because everything I shoot takes place outside for the most part. And we’re beholden to the weather and have to force our way through. But at the end of the day, to go to some of these locations where most people have never been, where you’re opening up a new world, and all of these places or characters in the story, to me, it’s fascinating.”

He also opened up about how he developed trust with Paramount, which enables him to put the time and effort into getting those quality shots.

“Because it is so hard, physically, on the actors, on the crew, I feel like the shots look earned,” Sheridan continued. “And because Paramount trusts me and gives me the time to go shoot 10 to 14 days for a television episode, we can treat it like a movie, and it looks like a movie. We can take the time to rehearse it and light it and build these set pieces. And if I call them and say, I need two helicopters in one day, they just go, all right.”

As a result of his consistent quality, Thornton was excited to work with Sheridan once again. Thornton revealed his enthusiasm for Land Man: “It’s about the world of the oil business that we generally don’t see. When you see writing that good, it really excites you.”