‘1883’ Star Isabel May ‘Read Probably 50 Books’ To Prepare for Role

by Jonathan Howard
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When it comes to filming and putting together 1883, Taylor Sheridan wanted everything to be as close to reality as possible, and that meant research.

However, Sheridan wasn’t the only person doing their research for the show. Isabel May, who plays Elsa Dutton, put in a lot of work on set and off. When it comes to putting together a historical fiction series, research is so important. A lot of folks will notice if things don’t look right, from clothes to wagons, guns, and even the work they do in the show.

We have heard about the work that Sheridan and the producers put into making this an accurate depiction. That included building tons of covered wagons instead of relying on CGI. Also, for May, it meant reading first-hand accounts and primary sources to get ready for her role.

Elsa Dutton is a young woman in the show. She hasn’t left her parents for a new life yet. So, she is along for the grueling journey that is the Oregon Trail. That is why Isabel May took the time to thumb through and read journals and more from young women of the time.

“I read probably 50 books, and in particular, the ones that I gravitated towards were journals from young women that made the same trek,” the young actress said. “And it was interesting. I found one in particular, and it was from a young lady who was 17 at the time, very similar in age to the character I play. I took tidbits from that.”

1883 relies on historical accounts and framing to be successful. Taking the time to read primary sources like journals gives the best look at what life was actually like at the time.

‘1883’ Star Says What Is ‘Remarkable’ About The Show

It really must have been quite a fun time for Isabel May to look through those journals. If you have never held a real primary source in your hands and looked at real handwriting from days gone by, then it is hard to know the feeling. The historical realism of the show has impressed the 1883 star throughout filming.

“What’s remarkable about the situation,” May said. “Is that we really do get to live it because the terrain and the weather and the conditions are as realistic as it could possibly be. [On set] we’re doing these things with [our] own hands, and wearing what they would wear [in the time period].”

When you tune into 1883 you are very likely going to see some great historical shots. Using the landscape of America and making sure everything is as accurate as possible, the producers have put together what could be considered an epic. The historical Dutton family continues their journey this week.

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