When ViacomCBS came to Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan to propose their massive new contract for Paramount Network, EP David Glasser says the studio first “described how they wanted to build the streaming service by putting some incredible content on the air.”
This struck an immediate cord with Sheridan, mastermind of the Modern Western. “Taylor said, ‘I have it. I want to do the prequel to the Duttons but this is going to be a big epic huge show’,” Glasser reveals to Deadline of 1883‘s beginnings.
The studio’s response? “They didn’t blink.” Which is great for Sheridan, as it turns out he’s had the Dutton family history rearing and ready to go “for years.”
Of his colleague, Glasser says that “When Taylor creates, in his mind he can take you down a rabbit hole with 15 layers deep on the lineage of a story, something I’ve never seen another creator do.”
The EP has worked with Sheridan and 101 Studios for years on Yellowstone. “Ask him a question about a character, he’ll take you back 10 or 30 years. That’s what happened here with 1883,” he says.
Together, the two have “played with” flashbacks on Yellowstone before. Glasser cites Young Rip Wheeler as an example. But far beyond this, he says, “Taylor was thinking about the story of the Duttons and their journey.”
‘1883’ was an ‘Organic’ Evolution from ‘Yellowstone’
Through any character conversation on the Yellowstone set, Sheridan “would tell you the Dutton story, and you would be mesmerized enough to say, ‘Well why are we not making that?” Glasser continues. “We’re sitting here making this incredible television show in Yellowstone, but what you’re telling me is absolutely magic. It seemed organic for him to sit down and start at the beginning.”
And start at the beginning is exactly what 1883 will do. The EP says everything felt “natural and organic” to begin with the Duttons after hearing Sheridan’s fictional family bible.
“What’s beautiful about the story is, it’s a time we’ve forgotten, what a family would do to find a place to settle, and the risks and trials and tribulations of what people went through,” Glasser cites.
The Duttons may be fictional, but 1883 will showcase “real struggles” from America’s brutal history. Glasser and Sheridan promise “People dying along the way in search of a better future for their families,” all while staying true to the history of the Westward Expansion.
And it all begins “through the eyes of the father,” Glasser notes. Tim McGraw will give life to 1883’s patriarch, James Dutton, alongside his real-life wife Faith Hill as Margaret Dutton.
As we now know, James and Margaret have been alive in Sheridan’s mind for years. And now audiences will meet them at long last, come 1883 on Paramount Network this fall (Dec. 19).