‘1883’ Stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill Talk Challenges of Filming in the Elements

by John Jamison
Photo Cr: Sarah Coulter/Paramount+ © 2021 CBS Interactive . All Rights Reserved.

The late 19th century was a formative time for America. There were giant leaps in technology, but unfortunately, folks had to make do without modern luxuries such as air conditioning. Those brave souls who ventured west were at the mercy of the elements. The cast of 1883 was no exception.

If you ask James Dutton actor Tim McGraw, dealing with the elements added a layer of authenticity to the highly anticipated Yellowstone prequel series. Wearing the same clothes, using the same technology, and walking in the footsteps of those post-Civil War era Americans within a scene was a powerful tool toward building a character. But it wasn’t exactly comfortable.

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill talked to USA Today about the challenges of creating such an authentic portrayal of frontier life in 1883.

“The elements were the most challenging thing. It was either super hot or super cold. But it’s also another character in the show – the vistas, the scenery. Being in the elements on horseback and doing the things we’ve been able to do has been special,” said McGraw.

Filming in Texas and Montana in the summer and winter, respectively, was no walk in the park. Hill, McGraw, and the rest of the cast could take refuge when the filming was finished, but for hours at a time, they were roughing it in period-accurate costumes, working with 1800s technology.

“We have been in some extreme heat, girl. And then the layers and layers of clothing, and then going to Montana with the freezing cold and the wind was insane. And then coming back to the panhandle of Texas and dealing with the same type of wind as Montana. Sometimes we had to pause for safety reasons. It’s not glamorous at all.”

Like the Elements, the Locations Themselves Are a ‘Character’ in ‘1883’

In case you had any concerns, the filming of 1883 was not confined to a soundstage. That wouldn’t suit Taylor Sheridan’s vision for the expansive show. The series was shot on location in Texas and Montana, and these great states provided everything the cameras needed.

According to Tim McGraw, the landscapes are central to the final product.

“The locations are a huge character in the show. Without these locations, I think – seeing real mountains in Montana, seeing real high plains in Texas, seeing all of the things you see, the backdrop is just as important as anything,” McGraw told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview. “I mean I’ve heard the camera guy say several times, ‘Gosh we just point the camera in that direction and you guys say your lines and we got a great shot.’ That’s just how beautiful it was.”

1883 premieres on Sunday, December 19 at 9 pm. ET following Yellowstone.