‘1883’: Ennis Actor Eric Nelsen Was ‘Fighting So Hard’ Not to Cry During a Pivotal Scene With Elsa: ‘It Took Everything I Had in Me’

[Spoiler alert: Spoilers ahead for 1883 Season 1 Episode 5.]

Paramount+’s Yellowstone sequel, 1883, brought tears to fans’ eyes after the death of Ennis. Ennis and Elsa Dutton seemed to have a promising future together, and their moments brought a tenderness to the show fans loved. Unfortunately, Ennis’ death might change everything for Elsa moving forward. Here’s what Ennis actor Eric Nelsen said about filming his death scene and how he had trouble stopping his tears when it came time to shoot scenes with Elsa actor Isabel May.

How does Ennis die in ‘1883’?

Isabel May as Elsa and Eric Nelsen as Ennis about to kiss while riding horses in '1883'
Isabel May as Elsa and Eric Nelsen as Ennis in ‘1883’ | Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2022 MTV Entertainment Studios

To recap what occurred in 1883 Season 1 Episode 5, TVLine reminds us Elsa has a talk with her mother, Margaret, about Ennis. Elsa tells her mom she’s in love, and while Margaret warns her against falling for a man while on the trail, she understands it may happen anyway. Soon enough, Elsa and Ennis have sex — and the two seem completely devoted to each other.

So, how does Ennis die in 1883? Unfortunately, the dangerous roads the group now travels are full of bandits. Josef and his wife do their best to hold off the thieves, and Margaret tells those on the wagon to shoot at the bandits. Ennis then gets shot in the chest. As he’s dying, he tells James Dutton, “I loved her” — referring to Elsa.

When Elsa sees what occurred, she screams and sobs.

Ennis actor Eric Nelsen said he had to try his best not to cry while filming his death scene with Elsa Dutton

A backlit photo of Eric Nelsen as Ennis in '1883'
Eric Nelsen as Ennis in ‘1883’ | Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2022 MTV Entertainment Studios

Ennis’ death will likely have a serious impact on Elsa moving forward in 1883. At the end of his death scene, Elsa lies down with him. And actor Eric Nelsen said he did his best not to cry while it was all happening.

“But when we were filming that and the emotions and the tears and the screaming — and I’m lying there, playing dead — it took everything I had in me not to be crying,” Nelsen told TV Insider. “I was fighting so hard. Just lie there, dead. Don’t fall under the emotion because of what she’s going through. It just was heartbreaking for me — as Ennis, but really as Eric, too. So, it really did take everything I had not to not to lose it every time she had to film that.”

Nelsen also noted he loved having those moments between Elsa and Ennis, as it brought an “innocence” to the show. “It really goes against the darkness and the grit of the show,” he added. “I think that’s what people responded to the most, and it was almost uplifting when you got to see them together and for a moment it would bring smiles to people’s faces.”

Eric Nelsen said Elsa actor Isabel May is ‘one of the smartest people’ he’s ever talked to

Ennis actor Eric Nelsen loved working with Elsa actor Isabel May in 1883.

“At just 21, she’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever talked to in my entire life,” Nelsen told Decider. “She’s such a special individual and a real intellect. It seems like she’s read every single book on the planet 10 times, so she taught me a lot.”

Nelsen also mentioned he and May would find certain songs to listen to together that would get them emotionally ready to play their parts.

“We’re both really attentive to lyrics so that also helped us on our journey together,” he added. “I’m so privileged to have worked with her, and God, is she talented. I’m so excited to see her career take off from here.”

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