‘1883’ Stars Explain the Skills Learned at Cowboy Camp

by Caitlin Berard
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Taylor Sheridan is a stickler for authenticity and isn’t afraid to say it. To ensure historical accuracy, he went as far as to hire an entire team of historians to consult on life in the wild west in the late 19th century. It’s no surprise, then, that before production of 1883 began Sheridan required every cast member to attend cowboy camp. In doing so, the action on 1883 would appear as believable as possible.

In a Paramount+ exclusive, the actors and crew members of 1883 gave fans a look into what it was like to go to cowboy camp. At this point, you shouldn’t expect Taylor Sheridan to go easy on his cast – and he didn’t. From what the 1883 cast and crew have said, cowboy camp was every bit as tough as you would imagine.

Cowboy camp is: the actors get here at about 8:00 [AM], and then we start just exposing them to real life situations,” says Jason Rodriguez, stunt coordinator for 1883. “We have them work cattle, we have them part them out and sort them. We take them down to the pond and have them swim horses so we can prepare them for the river crossings that are coming up in the script.”

Somewhat surprisingly, every 1883 cast member described cowboy camp with a smile. “We all got to spend a couple of weeks together, just riding horses and roping and herding cattle,” says Tim McGraw, the actor behind James Dutton.

Tim McGraw’s real-life wife and costar, Faith Hill, chimed in as well. “Most of us have learned how to drive wagons, which is dangerous, by the way,” Hill says. Along with horseback riding and driving wagons, the actors also learned how to shoot guns and throw lassos.

Taylor Sheridan Explains the Importance of Cowboy Camp to ‘1883’

Though cowboy camp was no doubt an intense experience, it was necessary to the production of 1883. Taylor Sheridan explains, “There’s no way for me to inform them what this way of life is. You just have to do it. I just take them out and put them to work. The purpose of cowboy camp is to get actors comfortable enough on the horses that they weren’t nervous when they were riding. The better I can make them as a rider, the more authentic the scenes looks.”

Sheridan might be a tough director to work under, but he never asks his actors to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself. 1883 star LaMonica Garrett recalls, “Here comes Taylor [Sheridan] walking up. Like, he’s the first one out there. He’ll never ask you to do anything that he doesn’t do as far as being on a horse, climbing up rocks, going through lakes and rivers, steering cattle…”

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