Elsa's Death On 1883 Had Tim McGraw Breaking Down Into A 'Blubbering Mess'

This post contains spoilers for the finale of "1883."

The "Yellowstone" prequel "1883" only ran for a single season, but it packed a wallop in terms of emotion. Even if you weren't caught up with "Yellowstone," the series about the Dutton family's tragic travels out west to find a home in what would ultimately be Montana was powerful. In the series, Tim McGraw plays James Dutton, the great-great-grandfather of "Yellowstone" patriarch John Dutton III (Kevin Costner), and McGraw's real-life wife Faith Hill plays James' wife, Margaret Dutton. Together with their children, including the teenage Elsa (Isabel May), the family travels toward Oregon with a group of European immigrants and some Pinkerton guards. 

If you've watched the series (and read the headline), you know that Elsa ultimately passes away from an infected arrow wound in Montana, leading the family to settle in the place of her death. It was an incredibly powerful scene, and even as the actors performing it, McGraw and Hill said the whole thing was rough. Both actors spoke to Entertainment Weekly in May 2022 about the finale and talked about the emotion of it all. 

'I think it was the next to the last take we took'

During the interview, Faith Hill almost broke into tears several times, speaking about the dark places she had to go as an actor when dealing with Elsa's death. She had lovely things to say about her co-star Isabel May and mentioned the last thing Elsa says to her: "See you in the valley." Hill said, "I can't imagine not being with my child in their final moments of life." If you recall, only James was with Elsa when she finally died. 

Tim McGraw had a rough time with it as well, according to EW. He explained that he also tried not to think about the daughters he shares with Hill. He said: 

"We shot it maybe three or four times. The very first time, Isabel and I both were just a blubbering mess [...] The scene that we ended up using — and I think it was the next to the last take we took — she's laying on my lap and we're getting ready to shoot and she just looks up at me and says, 'What's the thing you love most about your daughters?' And then they said, 'action,' and it just tore me apart."

He added that in some of the scenes, "to not cry and still be emotional is really tough for me." Crying is something that's really difficult to fake, but when it is honestly affecting the actor as well, it's hard for the audience not to shed a tear or two (or ugly cry like a baby). Some studies say that we have neurons in our brain that mirror the behavior of others, but whether it's chemical or just the sadness of the moment, I was blubbering right alongside you, Mr. McGraw. 

"1883" is currently streaming on Paramount+.