The Paramount Network's new Yellowstone prequel 1883 boasts an impressive cast that masterfully brings to life the origin story of the Dutton family. Creator Taylor Sheridan truly did an amazing job at finding the right people to tell the story of how John Dutton's (Kevin Costner) ancestors came to settle down on their massive Montana ranch. One of the most interesting casting decisions was thinking to put Tim McGraw and his wife Faith Hill in the roles of James and Margaret Dutton. Faith Hill has done some acting in the past, but in 1883 she proves that she really can do anything in the role of the tough and determined Dutton matriarch.
This is the first time Hill and McGraw have done any acting work together and, according to the country star, the real-life married couple decided to approach things differently than they had when working together in the past.
"One thing that we did decide right away before we began filming, we decided not to work lines together," Hill explained. "Not to work our scenes together. We wanted that process to wait and allow it to show up naturally on set. After being married for 25 years we just wanted...to be Margaret and James. That really has been the difference because touring and other things we've done in the past together, obviously there's a lot of prep that goes into that together but this time we've chosen to do it separately until it's actually happening."
Clearly, this decision paid off. If you watch the show, you don't get distracted by the fact that two of the biggest stars in country music are starring opposite each other. The two stars become Margaret and James Dutton and have amazing chemistry, not only with each other but also with their onscreen daughter Elsa, played by Isabel May.
Hill may already have been a fan of her husband of 25 years, but she was totally impressed by McGraw's performance in the show.
"He's just incredible in this, truly. I mean he really blew me away," she says.
In the western series, Hill plays the mother of two children -- Elsa and John. As the mother of three daughters herself, she notes that each of her girls reminds her of Elsa in various ways. As tough as the experience is for Elsa to be a teenager during this time in history, Hill notes that there is some value which she wishes her daughters would have been able to experience.
"I wish honestly that they had the opportunity to experience life the way Elsa's character did in the wide-open space, crossing the country," Hill says. "Parts of it, not all of it, but parts of it. Just the freedom and the exploration because Elsa is just one of the greatest characters I've ever read personally, in a script, and Isabel absolutely is phenomenal in this show."
Isabel May is phenomenal in the show as are her co-stars, Oscar nominee Sam Elliott and LaMonica Garrett. The series really couldn't get any better.
Hill also praised Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan's work on the spinoff and the fact that Sheridan was able to expertly capture the essence of the time period through the eyes of a teenage girl.
"He is one of the most prolific writers of our time and the fact that he can write the story of 1883 from [Elsa's] perspective...it's hard to imagine it actually came from a man," Hill says. "No disrespect to Taylor, but truly, some of the writing and the things and the way it's described is remarkable."
As tough as the storyline is, Hill says that Sheridan can also be tough on set. Knowing exactly what he wants to see in each scene makes the filming experience very no-nonsense...in a good way.
"He's an incredible director," Hill says. "He's very specific, precise about what he wants...he's tough, but he's damn good at what he does. He's one of the best, for sure."