‘1883’: Marc Rissmann Explains Why Josef Took on the Leadership Role

The Yellowstone prequel 1883 is 5 episodes in, and the immigrant travelers are having a difficult time. The group hasn’t made it out of Texas yet and they’ve already lost around half their original number to animal attacks, accidents, and the dangerous river crossing. When the immigrants began their journey, a man named Josef became the leader of his group. Actor Marc Rissmann discussed his character and why Josef decided to be a voice for his people.

Marc Rissman as Josef of the Paramount+ original series 1883. Josef has a beard and wears a hat.
Marc Rissman as Josef of the Paramount+ original series ‘1883’ | Emerson Miller/Paramount+

Marc Rissmann plays Josef in ‘1883’

Rissmann’s character Josef becomes the somewhat reluctant leader of the immigrant group traveling with Shea Brennan. Initially, Josef steps up to interpret for Shea Brennan because he is one of the few people in his group who speaks English. Josef initially shows reluctance to enforce rules amongst his fellow travelers, but as time goes on it becomes apparent that order will play a big part in keeping everyone alive.

Like his character, Rissmann is from Germany. The actor explained why Josef left his homeland to travel to America in an interview on 1883‘s official Twitter. “Josef is a German immigrant. He is an ex-soldier and he wants to leave his demons behind and create a new home with his wife Risa,” Rissmann said. According to IMDb Rissmann has appeared in quite a few German TV shows and movies, but American audiences may have also spotted him in a few episodes of Game of Thrones.

Rissmann explains why Josef took on the leadership role

Rissmann went on to discuss why Josef decided to be a voice for his people. “I think the leadership role — he took it because I think he’s a natural leader and because he cares about people, but it creates conflict for him,” the actor said in the interview on Twitter.

Josef often tells Shea of the oppression he and his fellow immigrants experienced. They were not allowed to learn how to swim or to carry weapons, which complicates things once the journey begins. Josef clearly had ideas about finding paradise in America, but the journey is full of horrors he couldn’t have imagined.

“You do this journey with a certain image. I think they expected heaven and that image slowly fades,” Rissmann said. Josef is additionally reluctant to tell his fellow immigrants what to do after all the oppression they have faced. However, he soon realizes that he has to maintain order and punish those who steal or cause problems.

Will Josef make it to Oregon alive?

Josef and his wife Risa are traveling to Oregon in the hopes of making a better life for themselves. At one point, Risa tells Josef that she wants to start a family. Shea informs Josef that Oregon is “worth the risk,” but there’s no guarantee that he and Risa will make it there alive. However, Josef seems to be gaining a better understanding of what it takes to survive this trip. There’s a pretty good chance he and Risa will see Oregon someday.

New episodes of 1883 release Sundays on Paramount+.

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