Would 1883's Tim McGraw Return To Yellowstone Universe As James Dutton? The Country Star Has Thoughts

James Dutton standing outside tent in 1883
(Image credit: Paramount+)

As one of the best original shows streaming on Paramount+, Taylor Sheridan’s historical western 1883 is apparently ground zero for a mini-verse within the world of Yellowstone, with the upcoming series based on legendary lawman Bass Reeves serving as a spinoff of the Duttons’ origin story. While it’s still not clear how it’ll play out exactly, that decision from Sheridan and studio execs strengthens the notion that we probably won’t be seeing Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s James and Margaret Dutton again for a proper second season of 1883. But would McGraw even come back to the role if that was the plan?

It turns out the country music superstar himself is split on that decision. Post-season discussions surrounding 1883 made it seem like that particular story was its own thing, with Taylor Sheridan opting to jump into different points in the family timeline for other spinoffs such as the upcoming 1932 drama starring Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren. And it sounds like for Tim McGraw to get involved, James Dutton’s story would indeed need to stand out entire from 1883’s founding season to justify its existence. Here’s how he put it when he and Faith Hill were guests on the Just for Variety podcast:

Look, we’d done all the river crossings, all the snake bites, all the shootouts. Just about everything you could do in a western, we did in the first season. So I don’t know how you could continue to do that in another season and make it interesting.

Granted, I don’t think those with Paramount+ subscriptions would be greatly devastated if 1883 delivered another season as well-crafted, as well-acted, and as heartbreaking as the first, even if it hit a lot of the same notes. But I can understand from a performance perspective why he wouldn’t be interested in repeating himself just for the sake of pushing out another season. Such is the mindset of a songwriter. 

To be sure, Tim McGraw’s decision to reprise James Dutton wouldn’t completely be focused on how the storyline played out, at least creatively speaking. The effort that went into producing 1883’s ten-episode season took a lot out of all involved, and the weight and magnitude of such a production also looms large in the musician and actor’s thought process. In his words:

It’s sort of a 50/50 toss up in my mind. Do I want to do it again or was it too much work to do it again? I was doing some shows in the middle of it. I would work till 5 or 6 in the afternoon and then fly out and go do a concert and get home at 3 in the morning and be up at 4 and start all over again. So if I were to do that again, I wouldn’t be doing shows at the same time. That’s for sure.

Some fans may remember back in October 2021, when Tim McGraw’s exhaustion was on full display as he went off on some heckling fans during a live concert. So it’s easy to understand why anyone would want to avoid that kind of work schedule in any capacity. Perhaps if a second season would be timed to go into production after a tour schedule wrapped, though…

For now, we’re still in waiting mode when it comes to where the Yellowstone universe is going next, but check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are coming soon.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

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.