‘1883’ Star Tim McGraw Praises Taylor Sheridan for His ‘Not Romanticized’ Portrayal of the Frontier

by Jonathan Howard

Taylor Sheridan isn’t going to sugarcoat things in 1883. The historical epic drew star Tim McGraw in immediately with its unique approach.

Just four episodes have aired and already the grit and the toughness have been on display. If you thought the game Oregon Trail was difficult, just take a look at what the 1883 wagon train has been through. The show has made death a common occurrence.

Those on the journey have been run over by wagons, shot by bandits, bitten by snakes, drank tainted water, and drowned in the Brazos River. So, this is not a happy-go-lucky Western tale. Unfortunately, there is no strong and strapping sheriff ready to save the day in the end. Just troubled men doing their best. While speaking with the Official Yellowstone Podcast, McGraw talked about the real approach that Sheridan takes in the series.

“I think James looks at his daughter as just hope for redemption,” McGraw said. “For all the things that he’s had to live through. And Isabel May who plays my daughter, Elsa, just brings such a light and a spark and a hope to this whole process. And the thing I like about this, it’s not romanticized. There is a romanticism to it because [of] the west itself and the journey. There’s a romantic sort of version of that. But what Taylor has written is the struggle and the hardship. [He’s] taken sort of the veneer off of this journey.”

Tim McGraw stars as James Dutton in 1883 and the character is complex… to say the least. While it has been years since the Civil War, the scars remain physically and mentally. So, the journey is about more than just finding a piece of land. It’s about putting everything behind him.

‘1883’ Tim McGraw Says James Dutton ‘Trying to Outrun Ghosts’

During the same podcast interview, McGraw talked about James in further detail. The character has been through a lot. His time in the war and in the aftermath of it has caught up with him. The actor talked about the motivation that Dutton has on the journey.

“I think probably after the war, during reconstruction, and the devastation that it wrought. I think James’ motivation was to get his family to an untainted part of the world. That’s really what he wanted to do. And he was trying to outrun ghosts. He was trying to get past some of the ghosts that he had in his life, and I don’t think he’s ever going to get past that.”

As the season goes on 1883 is likely going to show more of that motivation from James. Getting to know the man on a deeper level. The interactions between himself and the other Civil War veterans, Thomas and Shea will be especially interesting.