1883 Star Sam Elliott Wants To Save The Planet – Starting With Movie Sets

Sam Elliott is a national treasure and an absolutely beloved actor. Did you need another reason to love him? There are so very many, but here's another: During recent roundtable interviews at the Wynn Las Vegas for the "Yellowstone" prequel series "1883," Elliott had some strong things to say about the environment and saving the planet. 

In the series, Elliott plays Shea Brennan, a former captain in the Civil War who is now accompanying a group of families — immigrants and Americans alike — from Texas to Montana, to find a better life. Shea has had a rough time of it, losing family and dealing with PTSD, and the American West was not exactly a hospitable place for him. That said, it certainly gives you an appreciation of the beauty of the natural world. (I've seen the first three episodes, and the scenery and the cinematography are wonderful. So is the show.)

Elliott talked about not only how we no longer value the environment, but how much waste can be created on movie sets. 

"Not Sure If We'd Be Too Proud of It ... If We Knew What Was Coming"

Elliott spoke about what we as Americans — and what movie sets specifically — do to the land we love so much: 

"It's one of the most disturbing things, on some level, is the amount of waste that we, as Americans, generate in this country, at a time when so many people are living without. And what goes on in these movie sets, the stuff that is generated, the garbage that's generated, the plastic that's generated, the tin cans that's generated, that go into the garbage heap, the food that's wasted, is heartbreaking. A lot of us feel that way about it."

He continued:

"And we work in certain areas where there is no recycling. Look at a plastic bottle or look at a can or look at something that says ... there's a couple of states that are named. Oregon's one of them. Ten cents. Throw it in the trash. Some kid that had the capabilities of getting to Oregon could have probably paid for his college education with the plastic we've thrown out on this thing. It's unbelievable. But yeah, the nature of this thing, working outdoors ... it puts us pretty close to the earth. No doubt about it. Not sure we'd be too proud of it, back in the day, if we knew what was coming."

"Until We Get Our S*** Together ... It Isn't Going to Change"

Having been on many, many sets, I can tell you that there are indeed some that generate a whole lot of trash. Others, however, reuse set pieces, donate set wood, and recycle, just to name a few things they're doing to minimize waste. Some sets are considered "green," and require things like bringing your own reusable bottles. It's a slow-moving trend in Hollywood, but from what I've seen, it's starting to change. It might not be fast enough, however, and it's definitely a huge issue.

The big problem is what to do about it, and Elliott wasn't sure: 

"Oh God, I don't know. I don't know. There's a lot of people that are mindful of it. And it's like everything else in this world we're living in: It's the fact that it's fractured, the fact that there's factions, the believers and the non-believers, of whatever subject we're talking about. Until we get our s*** together, and on a worldwide level, in terms of the climate and all that business, it isn't going to change. I don't think it's going to change."

"1883" premieres on Paramount+ on December 19, 2021.