'1883': What to Know About Tom Hanks' Surprise Cameo in Episode 2

Yellowstone prequel 1883 made its anticipated two-hour premiere this weekend and fans were most excited to see a very special guest star! In Episode 2, "Behind Us, a Cliff," audiences got their first glimpse of how A-list actor Tom Hanks factored into the Dutton story, starring his good friends Tim McGraw and Faith Hill as James and Margaret Dutton, respectively. Spoilers are ahead for 1883, now streaming on Paramount+

With the second episode kicking off with a flashback of James Dutton (Tim McGraw) at the Battle of Antietam, he is awakened by the smoke enveloping the fallen bodies of his fellow soldiers. Trying his hardest to come to terms with the events, he is soon joined by a compassionate general, portrayed by Oscar winner, Hanks in a full bear and Civil War uniform as Union General George Meade, a real-life American Civil War hero, most well-known for defeating Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg.

While there are not many words spoken by Hanks as Meade, he places his hand on James' shoulder, offering words of encouragement and peace. As James's daughter, Elsa (Isabel May), narrates the scene, she explains how her father never spoke about the war but the experience is one that truly shaped the man he became. 

Hanks' scene was reportedly shot in just one day, and was somewhat a favor to McGraw and Hill. "Tom and [his wife] Rita [Wilson] and Faith and I have been friends for a long time," McGraw recently told Entertainment Tonight. "So I gave Tom a call and just asked. He goes, 'Tell me when to be there.' And he showed up and did it and he killed it."

Created by Taylor Sheridan, 1883 is a Yellowstone prequel that jumps back to tell the story of James and Margaret Dutton, who traveled to Montana more than a century ago to seek a better life. Sam Elliott also stars in the series, playing Shea Brennan, who Deadline described as "a tough-as-nails, handsome cowboy with immense sadness in his past." Brennan is tasked with "guiding a group from Texas to Montana," but they will quickly learn that he is not one to "suffer fools." 

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In a statement on joining the cast of the new series, Elliott said, "It all starts with the writing, and Taylor Sheridan is a brilliant writer. I think the western genre speaks clearly to both of us." The former Ranch star continued, "The classic struggles of man against man, man against nature and man against himself. It's all there, in 1883, and I'm honored to be a part of it."

Speaking about his approach to filming the new show, Sheridan explained that realism was crucial. "I don't build a world with visual effects," he said, per Us Weekly. "I go shoot these corners of the world that people haven't seen. The audience today is so experienced. They've seen so much, so to move the audience becomes more and more difficult. It's incredibly expensive and very difficult. But we can do it as John Ford did it. When you need 50 wagons, you're going to see 50 [real] wagons." 1883 debuted Dec. 19 on Paramount+, with new episodes premiering every Sunday.