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1883's Tim McGraw Talks Potential Yellowstone Season 5 Flashbacks For James Dutton, Compares Awards Build-Up For Acting And Music

James at fort in 1883
(Image credit: Paramount+)

When Yellowstone co-creator Taylor Sheridan decided to open up the neo-western’s universe to dig into the Dutton family’s history, he came out with guns blazing, quite literally in the case of the death-plagued journey at the heart of Paramount+’s 1883. That drama serves as a marquee original series for the streaming service, which made its highly anticipated debut in the UK this week, granting new subscribers across the pond a full-on introduction to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s James and Margaret Dutton. The spinoff’s second season will focus on legendary lawman Bass Reeves, but does that mean we’ve seen the last of James and Margaret?

With Emmy voting imminent, Tim McGraw spoke with CinemaBlend and other press to promote Paramount+’s UK launch. I asked the country music superstar what the chances were that he might pop back up in Dutton mode within Yellowstone Season 5, as well as asking how awards season as an actor compared to how things go on the music side. Given James originally appeared during a flashback in the Season 4 premiere, and also showed up for an additional flashback later in the season, it’s not such a wild assumption to think it could happen again. But McGraw seems to be closing the door on such a return, saying: 

You know, I don't feel very confident or feel like the flashbacks would be a good thing. I don't want to water down our characters, because I feel like that the show stood on its own so well. And those characters are part of us so much that I hate to go back and sort of just piecemeal them and revisit them in just little segments. So I don't know that I'd want to do that.

To be sure, if Taylor Sheridan came up with the absolute perfect way for James Dutton (and possibly others) to show up in Yellowstone’s fifth season, Tim McGraw could very well decide to return if his schedule allowed for it. But barring something hyper-specific like that, it’s likely that fans will need to rewatch 1883 eps if they want to spend more quality time with the country-crossing badass. 

By all means, it’s as good a reason as there is to not want to continue on with a project or role. There aren’t any major unanswered questions related directly to 1883’s narrative, beyond a general“what happens next?” The actor previously explained that since the first season accomplished all the things that one would expect from a frontier epic, there isn’t a lot more to tackle without getting repetitious. And McGraw has hilariously also made it clear that he was quite eager to rid himself of John Dutton’s beard the very second he was completely finished with filming, so I can’t imagine he’d try and grow that gnarly chin garden out again just for a flashback appearance. 

When it came to answering the awards question, Tim McGraw maintained his humble tone, being quite self-aware that he's not entirely in his element when it comes to conversations about acting recognition and the like. Here's how he put it:

As far as the build up to award shows, I mean, this is a whole different process. With the Grammys or the American Music Awards or anything like that, you just sort of put your music out there and see what happens, so you never know. And I don't know how this [TV awards] process works very well. So I'm just sort of going along with the flow, and you know, I'm proud of the work. I'm proud of everybody that worked on the show - all the other actors. I think the ensemble of actors was so fantastic, and we had such a camaraderie that no matter what happens with the awards we feel good about what we did.

Indeed, there's a lot to praise about `1883, and the performances everyone brought to the screen factored highly into it all. Only time will tell if the Paramount+ spinoff or Yellowstone proper will feel the well-earned love once TV award nominations are announced going forward, but I'm certainly hoping Taylor Sheridan & Co. can bring some gold back to Paradise Valley. 

All episodes of 1883 are available to stream on Paramount+ (opens in new tab), which is where fans can also find Taylor Sheridan’s non-Yellowstone drama Mayor of Kingstown, along with all of his upcoming projects like the 1923 spinoff with Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren, as well as Sylvester Stallone’s Tulsa King and Zoe Saldaña’s Lioness.

Nick Venable
Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.