The Women of ‘1883’ Discuss Their Characters’ Lives and Journeys

Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone Prequel 1883 told the story of the Dutton family’s treacherous journey to Montana. Yellowstone fans know that the Duttons are full of powerful women. Margaret, Elsa, and the immigrants had to be strong on their trip. The women of 1883 discussed their characters’ journeys and what it was like to live in that time period.

The Dutton women in 1883. Elsa rides a horse and Margaret rides the wagon.
Isabel May as Elsa and Faith Hill as Margaret of the Paramount+ original series ‘1883’ | Emerson Miller/Paramount+

Faith Hill and Isabel May discuss playing the Dutton women

Faith Hill plays Margaret, the matriarch of the Dutton family in 1883. The actor described what Margaret went through to make her such a tough individual. “Life in 1883 for women, in particular, was very different. There were things that were just completely off the table,” Hill said in a Paramount+ video.

“Margaret at the age of 17 was a nurse in the Civil War. You have to have a certain strength about you to be able to make it through that. She’s not afraid of hard work and I think she came from that.”

Margaret’s daughter Elsa lived a pretty sheltered life prior to starting the journey. As time passes she begins to shed her former self and she eventually exchanges her blue dress for a pair of pants. “Elsa is extremely independent at a time when a young woman was not allowed to be independent in such a way,” May said in the video.

“She is just is bursting at the seams and is amazed and enamored with everything around her. When she sees how everyone else is shedding clothing because it’s too hot — women walking in pants — she’s amazed by how different this world is and she wants to be a part of it.”

The actors portraying the ‘1883’ immigrant women share their thoughts

The Dutton women in 1883 travel with a group of immigrants, one of whom Elsa trades for a pair of pants. This woman, named Alina, is portrayed by Amanda Jaros. “Alina specifically is a seamstress,” Jaros said in the Paramount+ video. “She knows how to hustle a little bit and so that’s how they ended up finding a trade. Her skill set can help Elsa not just dress like an immigrant but to have more functionality like a cowboy.”

An immigrant named Josef stepped up to be the unofficial leader for the immigrants, but his wife Risa has hopes for a better future as well. “Risa is a very sweet, gentle woman and she follows the love of her life to the edge of the world,” Risa actor Anna Fiamora said in the video. “She shares the same dream of creating a family together in a place that is safe.”

“This is a transformative journey for her. She starts out being so fearful of life and then she grows into her own power that she never knew she had and she becomes a very independent woman and also insanely strong for the people she loves and cares for.”

Gratiela Brancusi portrays Noemi, a Roma woman who was widowed on the journey and who later becomes romantically involved with Thomas. “Noemi has a long lineage of oppressed people — as a woman had even less rights, which I think was a big part of why she was on this journey in the first place with her family,” Brancusi said.

“I really wanted to understand what it would be like for a woman of Roma background to make her own choices. She might be the first in her lineage to do that.”

Faith Hill and Isabel May are fans of Beth Dutton

Hill and May’s 1883 characters began a long tradition of strong women in the Dutton family. The actors pointed to Beth as another strong Dutton woman. “I could only hope that people draw some of our qualities and characteristics and go, ‘Beth reflects that a little bit.’ That would be awesome because I love Beth,” May said in an interview with Reel School. “I do think about her a lot,” Hill added.

All episodes of 1883 are currently streaming on Paramount+.

RELATED: ‘1883’ Costume Designer Explains the Significance of Elsa’s Blue Dress