Country stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are heading out west in 1883, the highly-anticipated Yellowstone prequel series for Paramount+. With just about a month to go before the show finally debuts, Paramount released the first photos from the set on Friday, ahead of Yellowstone's Season 4 premiere on Sunday. Real-life husband-and-wife McGraw and Hill star as the ancestors of Kevin Costner's John Dutton in the new series.
Yellowstone co-creator Taylor Sheridan also wrote 1883. He cast McGraw and Hill as James and Margaret Dutton, with Isabel May starring as their teenage daughter and Audie Rick as their son. May, who starred in CBS' Young Sheldon and Netflix's Alexa & Katie, serves as narrator. Billy Bob Thornton and Sam Elliott bring even more star power to the project as Marshal Jim Courtright and Shea Berennan, respectively.
"The season is the journey," McGraw told Entertainment Weekly, which published the first photos from 1883. "To see my beautiful wife on horseback, firing guns, and having dirt all over her face, I just sit in awe. She's a strong woman, anyway. Taylor said early on to me, 'Man, you'll just get on that horse. You're not scared of anything.' I said, 'I'm scared of one thing. She's right over there.'" This is Hill and McGraw's first acting job together, although they both have acting experience. Hill starred in The Stepford Wives, while McGraw starred in The Blind Side and Fright Night Lights.
Although the show's focus is the Dutton family's journey west before the established the expansive ranch seen in Yellowstone, one of the show's most fascinating characters is Brennan. Elliott's character is a grizzled Civil War veteran now working as a wagon master. At the beginning of the show, he experiences a loss that "haunts him" throughout, Elliott told EW. Brennan also shoulders the "responsibility of moving these emigrants north," the A Star Is Born actor said.
While almost every television show, including period pieces, needs some post-production work for effects, Sheridan rejected that. "I don't build a world with visual effects," the Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water writer said. "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."
All that work might make for a beautiful and authentic-looking series, but it's a real pain for the actors. Hill was particularly frustrated with riding a horse western style in a corset. It was worth it though. "This is real work. I was raised by Edna Earl and Ted Perry, and they believed the best way to teach a child was to get your hands in the dirt. That's basically this in a nutshell," Hill told EW. "I think so many actors are drawn to Taylor's writing because he is portraying the story in a way that was lived. I gained so much respect for cowboys."
Viewers will finally get to see that hard work in action when 1883 hits Paramount+ on Dec. 19. Meanwhile, Yellowstone airs at 8 p.m. ET on Paramount Network, following a Yellowstone marathon that begins at 10 a.m. ET. The first three seasons of Yellowstone are available to stream on Peacock.