lamonica garrett
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

'1883': LaMonica Garrett Brings to Life the True Legacy of Black Cowboys [Interview]

If you're watching the Yellowstone prequel 1883 on Paramount Plus, you know that the show is full of fascinating characters and led by an incredibly impressive cast. Thomas, a Civil War veteran partnered with his former captain Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott), has quickly gained the attention of fans. Tasked with leading a wagon train of immigrants and the Dutton family out West, Thomas certainly has his work cut out for him this season. Played by the captivating LaMonica Garrett, Thomas is a testament to the real Black cowboys who worked throughout the Wild West.

Known for playing Deputy Sheriff Cane in Sons of Anarchy, Mike Ritter in Designated Survivor, and Mar Novu/The Monitor/Anti-Monitor in the Arrowverse (Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Batwoman), the former slamball and football player is used to an action-packed set. You might also recognize Garrett from appearing in PrimalPolitical Animals, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, The Last Ship, Clemency, Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Curb Your Enthusiasm. But nothing really prepared him for the rigorous cowboy camp that took place before filming began. The San Francisco, California native was not familiar with horses at all before taking on his role, let alone the tough weather they faced up in Montana. 

"Cowboy camp was a challenge," Garrett told Wide Open Country and other media outlets. "This was [learning] how to ride a horse, [learning] how to steer wagons, roping cattle, herding cattle from one side of the ranch to the next in 100-degree really helped all of us develop this bond together."

"The cowboy life is tough," he adds. "I had no idea it was that challenging."

Read More: 'Yellowstone' Cast Went to Cowboy Camp To Make The Show Authentic

Garrett admitted that when he first read Taylor Sheridan's script, he cried. He believes that Thomas's depth as well as his relationship with Shea is incredibly important to the series.

"He's fiercely loyal. To me, when I read it, Thomas is the humanity of the show. He's the soul of the show," Garrett says. "He balances Shea...Shea can be the temperamental, impulsive kind of guy and Thomas is the cool and collected kind of guy. With that being said, he has a strong line in the dirt of right and wrong, respect and disrespect...he has that code and it comes from his background of being in the military, the order of command, and he's very protective of Shea."

After fighting in the Civil War together, the pair have a deep and close-knit relationship that presumably few could really understand after what they endured. But it's not one you typically see in other films and TV shows that capture this time period in American history. This is something that Garrett hopes will change to better represent how many Black cowboys actually worked in the days of the Old West. To better prepare himself for his role, he did extensive research on Black cowboys and what life was like for them out on the trail.

"I knew a lot about certain Black cowboys...the Nat Loves, the Bill Picketts, the Bass Reeves. And those are kind of the famous ones, but there were so many other cowboys that contributed so much to bringing this country to what it was [but] their stories never came to the light of day."

Coincidentally, just before filming began, Garrett discovered that the grave of a legendary Black cowboy was around 10 miles from the ranch where the cast and crew were staying. It was the grave of Bose Ikard, the cowboy who inspired Danny Glover's character in Lonesome Dove. He decided to go visit the site and invited anyone from the cast who might want to join.

"So me and a few cast members...we went to the cemetery and just took it in and read what Bose Ikard did on his marker," Garrett says. "One in every four cowboys back then was African American but you wouldn't know that by watching television and film, so being responsible and being the one that's bringing this character to light, I wanted to do as much research as possible and it helped me throughout this series."