Sam Elliott Says He’s Never Worked on Anything Like ‘1883’

by Courtney Blackann

Actor Sam Elliott has a storied career and tons of accolades. He’s a national treasure (you can’t even argue this point). But even after Oscar-nominated performances, the acclaimed actor still says that “1883” has been his most grueling experience.

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Elliott opened up about his experience on set. In his decades-long career, Elliott has worked on a number of projects (including having snakes dumped on him) and he still deems “1883” as quite difficult.

“I have been in this game a long time; this is my 54th year in my career, and I have never worked on anything like this in terms of the scope and size. There are more horses, more wranglers and more production people than I’ve ever worked with. I’ve never worked on a show that has six cameras operating at the same time and a helicopter in the air. They’re getting their money’s worth,” Elliott said.

He goes on to add:

“Our directors on this thing were cinematographers that Taylor bumped up from Yellowstone. So they understand what they are looking for through the lens. It does not look like a television show by any means. They are not making a television show here, even though they say there are. It is a 10-hour story.”

Taylor Sheridan Wanted “1883” to be Authentic

And further, Sheridan has been open about wanting “1883” to come across as more of a novel than a typical drama series. He’s also super devoted to making the setting authentic. With incredible cinematography, Sheridan creates a world that looks incredibly authentic.

Further, “1883” star Tim McGraw echoes this about Taylor Sheridan. He spoke about the grueling lengths the creator would go to to make sure that the story felt real.

“Taylor is a stickler for authenticity. Even to the way you ride – he would come up and say, “you know, a cowboy wouldn’t have his feet in that position or wouldn’t have his hands in that position.” He says, “I’m just trying to make you look good. Everybody rides a little differently, and it’s fine to ride a little differently but there are a few things you need to be authentic to and true to.” And he’s always good about that. And down to the set design and the costumes,” McGraw says.

He also added about the experience:

“When you walk on that set, for me, I like to get there early, get my costume on, and be on set an hour or so before we start shooting. And it’s usually still dark. Always still dark. But, walk around in that world and live in that world for a while and try to feel what James would have felt – try to feel what the immigrants and the pioneers would have felt – try to feel what Margaret [Dutton, played by Faith Hill] would have felt – try to get into the spirit of my daughter [Elsa, played by Isabel May] and what she would have felt. I really try and spend a lot of time doing that and try to get inside Taylor’s head a little bit [in terms of] what he felt when he was writing it.”