‘1883’: Sam Elliott Teases Tragedy at Start of Series That ‘Haunts’ His Character

by Jon D. B.

Western icon Sam Elliott is set to anchor the entirety of Yellowstone‘s ambitious prequel, 1883, through horrible tragedy.

It’s a stellar Friday for Yellowstone fans. Entertainment Weekly just dropped their extensive first-look at 1883, Taylor Sheridan’s sprawling period Western set to tell the origin tale of America’s most prominent fictional family of late: The Duttons.

The series stars real-life, long-married superstars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill as James and Margaret Dutton. But the smartest casting decision Sheridan has made since Yellowstone‘s Kevin Costner is 1883‘s Sam Elliott.

Fans have long clamored for the beloved actor to join Paramount’s Modern Western. But the studio did one better, throwing his hat into the ring for a leading presence in this 19th-century epoch: a true Western. And Sam Elliott himself couldn’t be more thrilled.

For 1883, the veteran actor gives life to Shea Brennan, a hard-nosed Pinkerton agent doubling as a wagon master. Brennan is a Civil War Veteran, too, one that knows loss more than any other character on the show, Elliott teases. In fact, he tells EW that a tremendous loss starts off the entire series for his character; helping propel its plot along.

“It haunts him throughout, along with the responsibility of moving these emigrants north,” Elliott tells Entertainment Weekly.

Sam Elliott: ‘1883’ ‘Stands On its Own’

Elliott is quick to praise those bringing equal vigor to 1883, too. He lists actor Stephanie Nur by name. Nur plays a saloon worker and has been on set since August. Despite her smaller role, however, the Western icon says the show owes its energy to this supporting cast.

“They just pump so much life into this,” he continues for EW. And it’s exactly that fervent life that has Sam Elliott proclaiming: “You can call this a spin-off or a prequel to Yellowstone or whatever you want, but for my money, it stands on its own.”

This isn’t surprising after the level of quality Yellowstone has maintained. And with 1883 set so far into the Duttons’ past, it’s sure to carve out a legacy all its own.

Within, Elliott sports the same costume throughout, one of many traits true to the era. Clothing was a commodity, not the readily-available, disposable aspect of life we know today. And through it all, the actor says “The first month was brutal… It was 100 degrees and not easy,” something his co-star Tim McGraw echoes.

“It’s super dusty and super hot. There’s no way around it,” McGraw adds for EW. “At the same time, it’s like every kid’s fantasy to do something like this, to put your chaps on, your cowboy hat, and your gun holsters every day. Then you get on a horse and try to survive this journey.”

1883 premieres on Paramount Network come December 19.