Will Certain ‘1883’ Characters Be Based on Real People?
When Billy Bob Thornton was announced as a guest star for Season 1 of 1883, fans tended to skip over his character to embrace his reunion with Tim McGraw. The two shared time in 2004 when Friday Night Lights looked at Texas high school football culture.
That's the news Taste of Country led with, but now we're realizing that the Yellowstone prequel may be bringing certain historical events and outlaws back to life. James and Margaret Dutton (played by McGraw and Faith Hill) are fictitious, and Googling Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott's character, who does not suffer fools) finds a regional manager of an Urban Juicer in Nashville.
A look at IMDB finds 18 cast members, with vague titles like "Prostitute," "Livery Worker" and "Red Dress." Thornton's Marshal Jim Courtright stands out. When you Google that name, you learn all about law and order in late 19th century Fort Worth, Texas, and how "Big Jim" was as fond of arresting murderers as he was doing the deed himself. He was a very real person. See for yourself; if you want to skip ahead to about the 2:00 mark for this info, feel free.
This is remarkable because no character on Yellowstone is based on anyone from the real world, meaning a major shift in this new series' philosophy. On one hand, it's a lot easier to get away with recreating the dead than it is the living (because of lawsuits and the internet), but on the other, the show risks some credibility if it's not done accurately. Why would you pull someone as obscure (no offense to the Big Jim Courtright stans out there) as this Texas Marshal if you weren't going to weave his real story into the plot?
This all begs the question: who else will turn up? The Sundance Kid was hot-footing around town back then. Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp were in the area circa 1883. Is someone going to portray President Chester Arthur or his successor, Grover Cleveland?
The above video also expands on a favorite theory Reddit users have about a second celebrity reunion on the set of 1883. Let's just say there's plenty of reason to hope that the Dude will abide.
Season 1 of 1883 begins on Dec. 19 on Paramount+. Season 4 of Yellowstone begins on Nov. 7 on Paramount.