‘1883’ Star Tim McGraw Opens Up About Creating Bond With Isabel May

by Liz Holland
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Warning: This article contains spoilers for the ‘1883’ Finale

The “1883” finale dropped today and it was certainly an emotional one. Ahead of the finale, many fans were worried that the ending of episode 9 meant the end of Elsa Dutton (Isabel May.)  As we finally got a glimpse into the aftermath of Elsa’s injury, it turns out that viewers were right. 

The daughter of the Dutton family took an arrow to the liver in the episode leading up to the finale. In episode 10, she dies in her father, John’s (Tim McGraw) arms in an emotional scene after she says goodbye to both him and her mother, Margaret (Faith Hill.) 

In an interview with Variety, the actors opened up about how hard it was to film. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill made a habit of reading scripts out loud to each other, but when it came to the final two episodes, they couldn’t do it. “When we got the final two, we literally couldn’t read them to each other because we were crying so much — I mean, ugly, boohoo crying,” says McGraw.

McGraw also shared that filming the episode was particularly difficult because of the family-like bond that he formed with his on-screen daughter, Isabel May. 

‘1883’: Tim McGraw & the Actors Behind the Dutton Family Had Plenty of Time to Get Close On Set

“We all spent a lot of time together because we were in a closed environment because of COVID restrictions,” the star explained to Variety. “When we were in Weatherford, Texas, close to Taylor’s place, his wife has a saloon. That’s where we all hung out all the time at night when we weren’t working. We couldn’t go out to dinners, we couldn’t go out anywhere else except stay at home. So we got to spend a lot of time together, talking and having a good time.”

For McGraw, working with May hit very close to come since he has his own daughters around her age. “We had karaoke nights. My daughters were there a lot, who are all around Isabel’s age, so they spent a lot of time with her as well. Then she was over at our house hanging out, spending time with them. So we just really all got to know each other very closely.”

The actor revealed one of the most difficult parts of shooting the finale for himself and Hill was holding in those strong emotions to stay true to their characters. Not only were they seeing May in a distressful situation, but it was emotional for the pair as they are real-life parents.  “So that was the hardest thing for us, because we do have daughters and because Isabella, when we first walked on set and saw her, we said, “My gosh, she looks she could be one of our daughters,” McGraw said. “You do become emotionally invested and you do bring your real-life situation into the way you act. You find that piece of your life or a piece of who you are and you can sort of put it under a magnifying glass.”

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