1883’s Erik Nelsen and LaMonica Garrett Prepare New Audiences for Yellowstone Prequel’s Paramount Network Run
Yellowstone’s prequel 1883, which aired on Paramount+ in 2021, is returning to TV.
Taylor Sheridan’s Oregon Trail-set historical drama is returning to Paramount Network with a two-episode launch on Sunday at 8/7c. One new episode will air weekly. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill play James and Margaret Dutton, the first members of Yellowstone’s main family to settle in Montana, in the hour-long series.
The Duttons’ exploits and misfortunes fill 1883’s 10 episodes. (On that subject, many were disappointed when Sheridan stated that the spinoff would only last one season.)
We spoke with LaMonica Garrett (Arrow), who portrays former slave/current Pinkerton investigator Thomas, and Eric Nelsen (The Bay), who plays attractive cowboy Ennis, before the Paramount Network premiere. Read on for their generally spoiler-free opinions on the popular program.
TVLINE: Did you realize 1883 was a one-season contract when you began creating it? Because it surprised us.
Monica Garrett | That’s right. We knew going in. According to my representatives, it was a 10-episode one-off. When you capture lightning in a bottle, I don’t know whether they realized it would be as big a hit or connect with as many people as it did. Then they ask, how can we continue? Taylor says, “This is the tale.” We carry on from here.” That’s a terrific way to end, too—leaving them wanting more. Like the performers, we want a second season, but it strikes home story-wise.
Eric Nelson | I didn’t originally. I had no clue when I received the audition appointment, but I got the job, lost my mind [Laughs], and then found out it was just one season. You read an amazing screenplay and think, “Wow, it’s got to keep going.” Taylor’s view of this entire affair was premeditated from the start. It’s that way. Nonetheless, more time would have been good.
Let’s discuss Ennis and Elsa Dutton’s romance. It kind of glides above the ferocity and terribleness of trail life. Speak to me about flirting with Elsa’s Isabel May. Was there a lot of practice?
Nelssen | We were lucky. We lived together for a few weeks and trained for the performance at cowboy camp. We had all that time to establish chemistry, even if we didn’t need to. That was from Day 1. She’s the most lovely, kind, generous person I’ve ever worked with, so it was effortless and joyful. Laughing was constant. You know, performing such an emotional work like 1883, to find those moments of lightness and really raise each other up during the production was something we really concentrated on. I was depending on her and she was leaning on me, which created a great dynamic on stage.
LaMonica, I want to chat about Shea and Thomas, my favorite television pair. This genre doesn’t have such friendships. I know you claimed you quickly got along with Sam Elliott [who portrays Pinkerton agent Shea Brennan]. What was the first thing he said to you?
GARETT | Cowboy camp brought us together. I didn’t want to approach him at the shooting range. [Laughs] Like, how are we going to accomplish this? He sort of stared at me with that sardonic expression, and I was like, “He’s starring at me.” OK. Something is going to happen.” He offered me a hug and we hit it off from the start.
From then on, we built on it. As you stated, we haven’t seen that in the genre, particularly considering the race, who these individuals were, and the Civil War. It’s rough in the genre. You don’t see sensitivity between individuals like this, like a brotherhood, you know? When Shea’s family died in the opening scene, Thomas and Shea got closer and were devoted to one other.
Do you intend to watch or rewatch 1883 on Paramount Network? Share your thoughts in the comments!