Sam Elliott Talks ‘1883’ Ending, Future Spin-Off Potential: ‘Everybody Was Sad to See It Over’

Sam Elliott, the mustachioed actor best known for roles in “1883,” “A Star Is Born” and “The Big Lebowski,” sat on Variety‘s Talks, presented by Paramount+, for a meditation on endings and beginnings throughout his long career.

Born and raised in Sacramento, Elliott explained his love for filmmaking developed as a result of frequent visits to The Sequoia, his local theater. At the age of 9, he saw “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954), which he credits as a major source of inspiration in committing to acting: “I wanted to make an audience feel what that magic was doing up there,” Elliott said.

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A deep dive through the Variety archives yielded insight on the first time Elliott’s name ever appeared in print. Elliott shared a laugh with Cynthia Littleton, Variety Co-Editor in Chief, when she surprised him with a copy of his first-ever reference in Variety, a two-line item from the April 16, 1968, edition noting that he signed to be a contract player for 20th Century Fox, in the waning days of Old Hollywood.

Fast-forward 55 years later, and Elliott is starring in writer-director Taylor Sheridan’s “1883,” a limited series on Paramount+ set prior to the events of “Yellowstone.” Elliott plays Shea Brennan, a cowboy and Civil War veteran who leads the Dutton family from Texas to Montana. Masked largely by his gruff exterior, Shea’s emotional complexity showcases Elliot’s dynamic range as a performer.

“It wasn’t a big stretch for me, because I was so familiar with the genre,” Elliott said of taking on the role. “That said, I went places I had never gone before in that genre. And I think that’s probably because so much of the character was internalized.”

Filming for “1883” spanned from August 2021 to January 2022, during which the actors were put through a gamut of harsh conditions — from the blazing heat of Texas to the freezing cold of Montana. But by the time production wrapped, Elliott conceded he was sad to see the show end.

“I think everybody was sad to see it over; I know I was. I would have liked to have that wagon train go to Canada by then and just stay with it,” Elliott said.

“My thought was, ‘Let’s do a prequel of this,” he continued. “Where was LaMonica? Where were those two guys? Pick it up after the war, when they were Pinkertons. There’s plenty of stuff to do.”

A future spin-off of “1883” isn’t entirely off the table, Elliott confirmed, though for now, it remains to be seen when “Yellowstone” franchise enthusiasts will see Shea’s reprisal.

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