‘1883’ Star Isabel May Says Filming Felt Like She Was ‘Daydreaming’

by Leanne Stahulak

“1883” star Isabel May spent a good five months or so totally engrossed in filming and preparing for the role of a lifetime.

May plays Elsa Dutton on Taylor Sheridan’s “Yellowstone” prequel show. We as viewers get to see the world of “1883” through Elsa’s eyes, as she narrates the story. While there are several storylines to follow, Elsa’s is a central plot of the show.

The “1883” star recently opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about playing Elsa. When asked if she understood at the time how crucial her character would be, May revealed that she knew from the get-go that she’d be the voice of the story.

“Well, I knew that she would be narrating the story because that’s the first thing that Taylor told me,” May told the outlet. “I was receiving scripts as he was writing them and once I got the first episode, I thought, ‘Oh, my character really is narrating the story.’ But it really took until the last episode for that to really sink into my head.”

It sounds like the “1883” star got into the head and heart of her character and didn’t really consider the implications of her role until after filming was through. The process of filming, May said, felt like “daydreaming.”

‘1883’ Star Elsa May Talks Filming the Show

“Personally, I’ve always been the kind of person who doesn’t trust something until it’s solid, until I can hold it in my hands and trust that it’s there,” May continued. “So it was a strange, surreal experience and it still is. I haven’t fully wrapped my head around it. It takes a while for me to realize things are happening. They have to have happened before I can trust that they occurred. I still feel like I’m daydreaming.”

We can’t blame the “1883” star. Not only do the scenery and set make it seem like it’s a dream, but also starring alongside legends like Sam Elliott, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill must be dream-like. May experienced all of that over the course of five months.

She also experienced a healthy dose of reality. Born and raised a city girl, May only had a few months to learn everything there is to know about riding a horse. The “1883” star told The Hollywood Reporter how she trained with a horse trainer named Deirdre in northern California before heading to the set.

“And then Taylor brought me out to do his infamous ‘Cowboy Camp,’ which consisted of riding with wranglers all day, basically being spoiled rotten and sweating like crazy,” May explained. “But waking up at 7 a.m. every day and riding through this beautiful countryside was fun and another daydream. So I did have time. I didn’t have an excessive amount of time, but I did have time to prepare.”

Even while learning practical skills, May still found a way to look at everything from a whimsical point of view.