Why ‘1883’ Star Sam Elliott Doesn’t Look Back at ‘Favorite’ Films, Just Favorite Coworkers

by Suzanne Halliburton
Photo by Vincent Sandoval/Getty Images

Sam Elliott is 77. Everybody’s perfect cowboy is starring in 1883, the much-anticipated prequel to Yellowstone. And he has dozens of acting roles to his credit.

Just don’t ask him about a favorite part or movie. He’d probably say all of them. After all, he left a piece of his soul in dozens of roles.

“I’ve had that question asked so many times. It’s so hard to answer,” the 1883 star said in an interview in 2017 for the BUILD online series. He was there to talk about his new movie, Hero.

“If you have good fortune enough to be in some decent films along the road then there are obviously things that stand out about all of them.

“I think what I remember most about films is the people I worked with rather than the film itself, if that makes any sense,” Elliott said. “And I don’t think it’ll ever get any better as it was on this film, it just was on all sides of the camera. It was a labor of love for a lot of people. I think, in the end, we pulled it off some really good entertainment.”

And Elliott said all his roles are good ones, so long as they provide that “good entertainment.”

“That’s the world we live in. We’re not curing anything, but hopefully some people’s ills, once in a while. Give them a chuckle, give them a laugh, maybe (let them) shed a tear. Give them their money’s worth.”

1883, Sam Elliott Currently Filming in Texas for December Premiere

We know Yellowstone fans, and all those who love Elliott, are looking forward to the prequel, which is set almost 140 years in the past. The cast currently is filming in Fort Worth, Texas, less than an hour’s drive from 1883 creator Taylor Sheridan’s ranch.

Elliott plays Shea Brennan, an old, handsome cowboy with a sad past. He’s the leader of a group of settlers intent on traveling to Montana to start a new life. According to his character description, Brennan has “the herculean task of guiding a group from Texas to Montana, and he does not suffer fools.”

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill also star as James and Margaret Dutton, the ancestors of Kevin Costner’s John Dutton on Yellowstone. Elliott, to look more in character, grew out his hair to about shoulder length.

Late last week, 1883 added another cast member — Billy Bob Thornton. He’s going to play Marshal Jim Courtright, a lawman who encounters the Dutton family. Not much more is known about Thornton’s role, only that he’ll be a guest star in one of the episodes. McGraw and Thornton worked together on Friday Night Lights. And Elliott and Thornton appeared together in the 1993 movie, Tombstone.

Paramount+ is giving 1883 as a kind of Christmas present. The series starts Dec. 19.