After the relatively instant and consistent success of Paramount Network’s marquee drama series Yellowstone, ViacomCBS surprised no one (but pleased many) by renewing its partnership with co-creator Taylor Sheridan, who is in the process of expanding the fictional universe with the prequel 1883, among other projects. Led by Kevin Costner, Yellowstone’s mothership ensemble cast is as stacked with talent as it gets, so fans can definitely expect for its first spinoff to carry suit in that department when it hits the Paramount+ streaming service in December.
Below, we’re keeping an updated list of all the major cast members that have been announced for Yellowstone’s origin story (of sorts) 1883, with a pair of Grammy-winning country music artists in the lead roles. As well, any character information that has been revealed will be included, so let’s dive into this look back into the Dutton family’s past for their all-important and big-budgeted trip across America.
Sam Elliott (Shea Brennan)
A Hollywood legend by any stretch of the word, Sam Elliott has an abundance of noteworthy roles across his stellar career, from The Big Lebowski’s The Stranger to his Oscar-nominated turn in 2018’s A Star Is Born. But he’s also long been familiar with TV work as well, having starred in the original Mission: Impossible series, with more recent memorable roles in Justified and The Ranch, among others. Amusingly enough, he’ll be complementing his work on 1883 with a role opposite Will Forte in the MacGruber TV series.
Sam Elliott will be integral to the Yellowstone prequel in the role of Shea Brennan, a brick-tough cowboy who doesn’t take shit from anyone, especially when the stakes are high, as it goes during a wagon-train trek from Texas to Montana. Shea will be the guide for that group, which includes the Dutton family ancestors mentioned lower, but viewers can also expect to see the character suffering intense sadness due to an unknown incident in his past.
Tim McGraw (James Dutton)
Though the Louisiana-born Tim McGraw may be best known for his country hits coming out of Nashville, he has also developed something of a steady acting career as the years have gone by, with some of his most notable roles coming in films such as Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side. 2017’s The Shack was McGraw’s most recent acting role prior to being cast in 1883, but there’s a good chance his debut as a TV lead will eclipse everything else he’s accomplished in the fictional realm.
For 1883, Tim McGraw will take on some hefty familial baggage in portraying James Dutton, the great-grandfather of Kevin Costner’s John Dutton. Details are light at this point when it comes to James’ personality and, well, everything else, but McGraw himself has taken to sharing social media posts with set details that fans can glean info from. For instance, it looks like James might be something of a gunfighter.
Faith Hill (Margaret Dutton)
While not quite as established an actor as her husband Tim McGraw, Faith Hill has taken on a handful of fictional roles in her music-heavy career, most notably for The Stepford Wives remake and 2017’s Dixieland. She’s no stranger to unscripted projects, either, having been a judge for CBS’ talent competition The World’s Best and also serving as a storytelling source for the 2019 documentary Bluebird.
Within the world of 1883, we know that Faith Hill will portray Margaret Dutton, wife of James and great-grandmother of John Dutton. Unfortunately, we don’t even have very many social media posts to theorize about when it comes to Margaret’s character or her motivations. One can only assume, however, that anyone whose lineage leads to Kelly Reilly’s Beth Dutton has fire and brimstone running through her veins.
Isabel May (Elsa Dutton)
20-year-old Isabel May’s acting career only goes back a few years, but when one of those roles is a recurring gig on CBS’ Big Bang Theory prequel Young Sheldon and another is a lead role in Netflix’s Alexa & Katie (she played Katie), it’s clear she’s destined to hit success rather quickly. And that should be helped along by upcoming roles in feature comedies I Want You Back and The Moon & Back.
What’s a family story without some children in that family, amirite? Isabel May will take on the role of Elsa Dutton, the eldest daughter within that traveling Dutton clan at the heart of 1883. It can be assumed that she’ll serve as John Dutton’s grandmother, though that could technically be disproven if other casting announcements reveal Elsa has a sister.
LaMonica Garrett (Thomas)
For superhero TV fans, LaMonica Garrett is no doubt best known for helping break open the Arrowverse’s multiverse on The CW as The Monitor and The Anti-Monitor. He’s also known for trying to keep people safe in other TV shows such as Designated Survivor and The Last Ship. 2021 has been a solid year for Garrette, also, as he’s popped up across OWN’s Delilah, NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine for its final season, and Fox’s Fantasy Island. He also landed a recurring role opposite Chris Pratt in Amazon’s upcoming action drama The Terminal List based on the novel from Jack Carr.
Expect to see another leadership-geared performance from LaMonica Garrett in 1883 as Thomas, who is both a Pinkerton agent on the grand scale, and a right-hand man to Sam Elliott’s Shea Brennan on a small scale. It should be interesting to see how the racial politics play out for his role, given the time frame and the character’s multiple points of authority.
Billy Bob Thornton (Jim Courtright)
The Oscar-winning Billy Bob Thornton is largely known for his extensive film career, which is highlighted by hits such as Sling Blade, Armageddon, Bad Santa and many more. He even co-starred with Tim McGraw in Friday Night Lights. That said, Thornton dove into TV in a big way in 2014 with a starring role in Fargo’s first season and a guest-starring role in The Big Bang Theory, and that success led to his starring role as Billy McBride in David E. Kelley’s Amazon legal drama Goliath.
Billy Bob Thornton won’t be around 1883 for the long haul, I’m sorry to say, as he’ll be showing up in a guest-starring capacity for the role of Marshal Jim Courtright. That’s about all the info there is for the role, so it’s not entirely clear if Courtright is located in Texas or elsewhere, nor how long audiences can expect to see him. Though I guess if the prequel series is meant to cross most of the country in order to get to their eventual family ranch in Montana, there isn’t much time for the characters to stick around and meet new people.
With Yellowstone Season 4 hitting Paramount Network on November 7, 1883 is set to expand the western horizons on Sunday, December 19, when it debuts on Paramount+ (opens in new tab), though the first episode will also be simulcast on the linear network. Be sure to check out everything hitting the small screen between now and then with our 2021 Fall TV schedule.
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.
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