In 1883, actor and country music star Tim McGraw plays James Dutton, the forebear of Yellowstone protagonist John Dutton (Kevin Costner). James is a complicated character with a tragic backstory. And series creator Taylor Sheridan will flesh out more of James’s story as the series progresses.
“Taylor didn’t tell me a whole lot about who he was before,” McGraw says in a new behind-the-scenes video released by 11883. “We just knew he was from Tennessee. During the series, you find out that [James] was a captain in the Civil War for the Confederacy. He had a lot of pain and PTSD from that. That was more of a motivation for him to leave Tennessee than it was to escape poverty. I think that he just wanted to escape that whole world.”
“I’m always there for my family and I’m always concerned about my family, but I think as the show goes on, you realize that James cares more about people than you think he does,” McGraw added.
As for his character’s relationship with Margaret Dutton, who is played by his real-life wife Faith Hill, McGraw said, “We found a part of what makes our relationship solid and strong, and magnified that. I think that it really works well, and I think that it really works well for our relationship, on-screen and off-screen.”
Watch McGraw discuss his character here:
Premiere of 1883 Sets Paramount+ Record
Meanwhile, Sunday’s premiere of 1883 set a record for Paramount+’s most-watched original series premiere ever, Deadline reports. However, the ViacomCBS streaming platform staked that bold claim without offering any ratings data to back it up.
But the 1883 premiere followed right on the heels of a fresh episode of Yellowstone, cable’s most popular scripted drama, and according to Deadline, 1883 drew in a noteworthy 65 percent of its Yellowstone lead-in (7.5 million viewers). That’s compared to 35 percent retention by a different Sheridan series, The Mayor of Kingstown, which also premiered recently.
“The results of 1883’s debut are truly phenomenal,” Tanya Giles, Chief Programming Officer, ViacomCBS Streaming, said in a statement. “The day 1 streaming numbers coupled with the results of the linear sampling effort, and social response from our audience show the tremendous promise for this series.”
On Sunday night, 1883 got a total of 6.4 million viewers. Fully 5.5 million of those were from the Paramount Network premiere and the simulcast. In fact, the 1883 premiere did better than the Yellowstone series premiere in key demographics. That’s not too shabby for a series that will stream exclusively on Paramount+. But can it maintain that momentum? Audiences will soon find out.