When Tim McGraw first signed on to play James Dutton, the country singer had no idea he would eventually be starring alongside wife Faith Hill in the Yellowstone spinoff, 1883. McGraw had previously appeared in films like Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side, but he told Deadline in a new interview he didn't know he'd be a leading man in a Paramount+ show when creator Taylor Sheridan called.
"I always thought I'd love to do a Western, if something good ever came along," the "Live Like You Were Dying" singer said. Sheridan had called asking if McGraw was a Yellowstone fan, which he was, and asked if he wanted to be on the show. "I told him I'd love to do it, but I didn't want to just be some sort of singing cowboy that comes on and gets taken to the train station or something like that," McGraw recalled. "He goes, well, I might have an idea. Give me a week or so."
When Sheridan called McGraw back, he pitched the idea of a "flashback scene" with him as the original Dutton who founded Yellowstone Ranch. "And I thought, now, that's interesting. I really like that. And that is how the whole ball started rolling," McGraw said. At that point, there was no talk of James Dutton actually leading a spinoff, and McGraw still isn't sure if Sheridan had that in mind when they first talked.
"But knowing Taylor, I'm sure he had that idea cooking in the back of his head," he added. After filming the flashback scenes, McGraw got another call from Sheridan saying that the studio was interested in doing a prequel of the founding Dutton family if he would sign on. "I'm like, well, yeah, I'm interested. And then he started sending the scripts, and I was just blown away," the Grammy winner shared. "This is one of the best things I'd ever read. Faith and I, we both kind of became obsessed with them. And then [Sam Elliott] got involved." Stream 1883 now on Paramount+.