Sam Elliott Explains Why 1883 Is Unlike Any Other Project He’s Worked On
Sam Elliott is a living legend who has starred in over 100 TV and film productions over the course of his nearly 60-year career. He got his start by playing bit parts as brusque cowboys in such classics as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Gunsmoke.” His breakout role came in 1985’s “Mask,” and since then, his storied career has included roles in “Gettysburg,” “The Big Lebowski,” and an Oscar-nominated turn in 2018’s “A Star Is Born” remake.
Elliott’s latest project, the “Yellowstone” prequel “1883” — which premieres on Paramount+ on December 19 — joins a lengthy list of Westerns he has starred in, including “The Quick and the Dead,” “Tombstone,” and “Justified.” Despite all the years of experience and variance in projects (hello, “Marmaduke”), Elliott says that “1883” is unlike any other project he’s ever done.
During a recent roundtable interview that included Looper, Elliott explained what makes “1883” really stand out to him.
The production of 1883 is more 'massive' than anything Sam Elliott has ever seen
As gruff but level-headed cowboy Shea Brennan, Elliott leads an all-star cast on “1883” that includes Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Isabel May, and LaMonica Garrett, who plays Brennan’s right-hand man, Thomas. As a “Yellowstone” origin story, the series follows the 19th-century Dutton family as they treacherously travel west on a wagon train to acquire land that will become the largest cattle ranch in the United States.
So, what makes “1883” a new experience for Elliott? “The girth of it, for starters,” he says. “This is the biggest thing I’ve ever worked on, whether a Western, a contemporary film, or television show. They’ve got a massive amount of money, which brings a massive amount of moving parts. It’s the biggest crew I have ever worked with. I’ve never worked on anything that had six cameras running at the same time. We’ve traveled a lot. We’ve been all over the state of Texas. We went to Montana. And we’re going to finish on the Oregon coast in mid-January. It’s massive.”
Another thing that makes it stick out? “The screenplay,” says Elliott. “[Creator] Taylor Sheridan’s work as a writer is brilliant, as far as I’m concerned. He’s very poetic in his writing. The dialogue’s very spare unless he goes into one of these arias that he writes for some of us along the way. And it’s a joy to do his dialogue.”
“1883” will debut its premiere episode on The Paramount Network and Paramount+ on December 19. Paramount+ will be the exclusive home for future episodes.