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  • When Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan met Isabel May he knew he had to have her for 1883.
  • The prequel actually went from an idea in Sheridan’s head to a show on Paramount+ in seven months.
  • May calls Sheridan the “busiest man” she’s ever met, and doesn’t think fans understand just how much 1883 means to the uber producer.
1883 Taylor Sheridan with star Sam Elliott both wearing dark suit jackets at the premiere of the Yellowstone prequel starring Isabel May
‘1883’ creator Taylor Sheridan and star Sam Elliott | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan says that when he met Isabel May, he saw the perfect ‘personification’ of prequel 1883. It was because of May that 1883 went from an idea in Sheridan’s head to a series premiering on Paramount+ in just seven months.

The story of how Sheridan got 1883 on the air so incredibly fast is quite remarkable. According to May, Yellowstone fans have no idea how much work Sheridan put into 1883. Much less how much the show means to him.

Paramount+ really loved Taylor Sheridan’s pilot script for the ‘Yellowstone’ prequel ‘1883’

When Sheridan signed his $200 million deal with ViacomCBS, he agreed to deliver five new shows over the next three years. Including the prequel 1883. Sheridan says that when he delivered a pilot script, Paramount loved it so much that they made an impossible demand. They wanted the series on the air in seven months to help launch streamer Paramount+.

“It was impossible to have something air in seven months that wasn’t cast, with no locations, and no other scripts,” Sheridan explained to Wide Open Country.

“I said this first episode I’ve written is the best thing I’ve ever written. If I can’t have the time to make it right, I need everything else. I need the toys, I need the cast, I need the team. You will need to trust me, and it’s going to hurt. And I did not hear the word no, at all.”

The first series to go into development in the spring of 2021 was the Jeremy Renner-led prison drama Mayor of Kingstown. Sheridan still had the idea for 1883 in his head. But, he hadn’t “found the hook” yet.

He found his Elsa Dutton during a failed audition

That all changed when he met May during her audition for Mayor of Kingstown. She says she was “terribly wrong” for that show. But, Sheridan knew right away she was his Elsa Dutton because she could “represent innocence and hope.”

Sheridan says that after meeting May, he called Paramount and told them that he had good news and some “you-need-to-trust-me news.”

“At this point I had not figured out how to tell this story and I had Sam Elliott over here and I had Tim McGraw here and Faith Hill and I had not found the bridge between them all. When I met Isabel, the whole story, all 10 episodes, went right through my head,” Sheridan explained.

“I called Paramount and said, ‘I’m going to sit down and start writing…but I need to hire the lead, the female lead, who’s a complete unknown, right now, before I start writing. Because it won’t work if we don’t get her.'”

‘Yellowstone’ fans have no idea that ‘1883’ is Taylor Sheridan’s ‘baby’

Without seeing a script, May agreed to the role of Elsa Dutton because she trusted Sheridan’s vision. She explained that the Texas native “cares deeply for this project” and “Elsa in particular.” She admits she got “very, very lucky” on that end because Sheridan’s attention is “a precious thing.”

“He’s the busiest man I’ve ever met in my life,” May shared.

Despite having so many projects on his plate, May says that 1883 is definitely one of Sheridan’s favorites. She explained that Yellowstone fans don’t understand just how much 1883 means to Sheridan.

“That’s probably the greatest thing about this project. It’s Taylor’s baby, and I don’t think people understand how much it means to him,” May explained to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I certainly don’t want to speak on his behalf, but he’s expressed that. So he spent pretty much the entire time on this project. He was on set almost every day. He was in constant communication.”

The ‘1883’ creator turned his backyard into a set

May revealed that they shot the first few episodes of season 1 in Texas. And they were all shot on land that Sheridan owns. They even shot scenes in his backyard.

“We were shooting at his house — not inside of his house, obviously — but in his backyard. He owns all of the land that we were shooting on in Texas, and then we moved to Montana and all around. But he was always accessible and he still is always accessible,” May said.

Isabel May knew the ‘Yellowstone’ prequel will get a season 2

Even before Paramount+ officially renewed 1883 for season 2. May hinted she thought there would be one. Not only is the show one of the top performers on Paramount+, but May says she knows the story “a little beyond the first season.”

The 21-year-old revealed that she’s “been let in” to Sheridan’s overall plan for 1883 because she hasn’t “poked and prodded.”


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“He’s always been very forthright with me, and it’s probably because I don’t poke and prod,” May concluded.

New episodes of 1883 drop Sundays on Paramount+.