‘1883’: Isabel May Never Listened to Tim McGraw or Faith Hill Music


  • ‘1883’ casts Isabel May as country music stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill ’s daughter.
  • Isabel May does not listen to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s music.
  • Isabel May worried the singers might be divas, but they proved themselves to be equal scene partners.
'1883': Faith Hill hugs Isabel May in camp
L-R: Isabel May and Faith Hill | Emerson Miller/Paramount+

1883 is a breakthrough role for Isabel May. She plays Elsa Dutton in the Yellowstone prequel. 1883 surrounds May with established performers. There’s Sam Elliott as guide Shea Brennan. And Tim McGraw and Faith Hill play Elsa’s parents. May said she’d never heard their music before working with McGraw and Hill.

May was a guest on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast on April 14. Discussing her role on 1883, May shared how she approached her famous country music star co-stars.

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are not Isabel May’s kind of music 

Before 1883, Isabel May had roles on shows like Young Sheldon and Alexa & Katie. The western period piece was a new challenge for May, but creator Taylor Sheridan wrote the role of Elsa for her after she auditioned for The Mayor of Kingstown. Sheridan cast Hill and McGraw, but country music was not May’s scene.

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“I did not know who they were,” May said on Awards Chatter. “I listen to jazz music and folk music. So I was unfamiliar with them which I’m really glad I was. I had no expectations whatsoever and I didn’t know what to expect either. But again, I wanted to be fair and see what they were going to bring to the table and man, yeah, they brought it to the table, that’s for sure.”

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s reputation preceded them on ‘1883’

May may have known the names Hill and McGraw. At least she did her research by the time she showed up on the set of 1883. May knew she was working with famous musicians. 

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“All I knew was that they were musicians and they were really well known musicians,” May said. “I didn’t realize how well known. And I kind of thought okay, we’ll see how this goes. I’m curious.”

Isabel May needn’t have worried about the ‘1883’ cast

May was relatively new herself so she wasn’t one to make big demands on the set of 1883. She admits she had it in the back of her mind that musicians could be divas on a set. However, McGraw and Hill proved to be nothing but professional. Plus, 1883 is an equal opportunity difficult show to produce. 

“I certainly hope everything is equal balanced and it’s not let’s take care of Faith and Tim,” May said she thought. “Wow, was that so not the case. Everyone including TIm and Faith really took a beating. And probably almost the most in my opinion.”

RELATED: ‘1883’ Star Isabel May on Her ‘Painfully Real’ Relationship with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill