1883 star Sam Elliott says he instantly connected to his character in the Yellowstone prequel show, praising creator Taylor Sheridan’s script.
Sam Elliott discusses his initial reaction to reading the script for the Yellowstone prequel 1883 and what convinced him to join the series. The actor’s iconic mustache and gruff persona have made him a mainstay of the Western genre, appearing in films like Tombstone, Conagher, and The Desperate Trail. Elliott stars in 1883 alongside Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Isabel May, LaMonica Garrett, Marc Rissmann, Audie Rick, Eric Nelsen, and James Landry Hébert. 1883 premiered the first two episodes of its 10-episode season on Paramount + on December 19, 2021. 1883 will continue releasing weekly on Sundays through the New Year.
The show follows the original creation of the Yellowstone Ranch by ancestors of the Dutton family. Elliott’s 1883 character Shea Brennan is in charge of the expedition that brings James and Margaret Dutton (McGraw and Hill) to Montana. He opens the show in a state of depression following the loss of his wife and daughter to smallpox. He has gone on this expedition as a sort of victory lap to take a look at the unspoiled frontier one last time. However, it’s likely the events of the Yellowstone prequel series will help Brennan find a new lease on life.
During an interview with Bleeding Cool, Elliott discussed his initial reaction to reading creator Taylor Sheridan’s script for 1883. He described feeling a connection to his Yellowstone prequel character and setting aside his qualms about the physical requirements of the role. Read Elliott’s comments below:
Well, it was the first few pages of that script, there was no dialog in them. It was just painting the picture. As you know, I assume you know Taylor’s work or you wouldn’t ask that question, he’s quite the poet. It’s a powerful beginning for this character of mine in which he loses his family right off the bat. I was pretty blown away just by that because I happen to have a family.
Shea has a wife and daughter, and I have a wife and daughter as well, so it caught me right away. In the ensuing scripts that kept coming my way as Taylor wrote them, he sent them on to me. I knew right away that there was no way that I was not going to do this project. I had a lot of reservations for different reasons. Most of them physical, but there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to do this.
Given how devoted Sheridan has been to reviving the neo-Western genre, it’s surprising 1883 is the first time he and Elliott have collaborated. Between works like Hell or High Water, Wind River, and Yellowstone itself, it seems that there would have been ample opportunity. However, Elliott has been extremely busy lately with his recent work. Just in the past few years, he has appeared in awards darling A Star Is Born as well as seasons of Netflix’s The Ranch and the Peacock SNL spinoff series MacGruber.
1883 seems like the perfect place for Elliott and Sheridan to begin their collaboration, however. The series offers a meaty part to Elliott, who even at the age of 77 has the energy to fuel deeply compelling characters. It’s clear from the actor’s comments that Sheridan’s script drew him in from the beginning, as did Brennan’s emotional story. As 1883 progresses, viewers will have a better sense of the character and whether or not he will be appearing in further seasons. Considering Elliott’s moving performance thus far, hopefully, Brennan will be a part of 1883 for years to come.
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