'1883' star Tim McGraw says working with wife Faith Hill enhances his performance: 'I better straighten up'

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Tim McGraw and Faith Hill take their relationship to the next level as James and Margaret Dutton in Taylor Sheridan’s new “Yellowstone” prequel series “1883.”

This isn’t the first time the longtime married country stars have also played husband and wife onscreen and McGraw told Fox News acting opposite his wife only enhances his performance. 

“In the middle of a scene, there are little gestures that she’ll give me, like when she knows that I’m off track a little bit, she’d give me that look to set me back straight,” he admitted.

“Just like when we’re singing on stage and I’m singing flat on my harmony part. I’ll get that look from her and I know I better straighten up because I’m not doing this well enough. So we definitely have that sort of communication between us,” McGraw added.

“1883” follows the Dutton family as they embark on a journey west through the Great Plains toward the last bastion of untamed America.

Tim McGraw as James Dutton and Faith Hill as Margaret Duttonof the Paramount+ original series "1883."
( Sarah Coulter/Paramount+ © 2021 CBS Interactive)

The cast includes Sam Elliott, Isabel May, and LaMonica Garrett who all went through a tough “cowboy camp” in order to prep for what life was like in the brutal west. 

McGraw said riding horses was his strongest skill. “I’m a pretty good rider, but I really enjoyed roping. And that was a lot of fun roping during cowboy camp and then learning to drive the wagon was fun too because I’d never done that before,” he recalled.

Hill revealed her strongest skill in cowboy camp was steering the massive wagon. “It’s really hard, way harder [than I realized] and really dangerous and very dangerous,” Hill told Fox News. “I compared it to like driving a stick shift.”

May, who plays James and Margaret’s daughter Elsa Dutton, described how much research she completed for the role. 

Isabel May as Elsa, Faith Hill as Margaret, Tim McGraw as James and Audie Rick as John of the Paramount+ original series "1883."
(Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2021 MTV Entertainment Studios)

“I read probably 50 books, and in particular, the ones that I gravitated towards were journals from young women that made the same trek,” May said. “And it was interesting. I found one in particular, and it was from a young lady who was 17 at the time, very similar in age to the character I play. I took tidbits from that.”

“What’s remarkable about the situation is that we really do get to live it because the terrain and the weather and the conditions are as realistic as it could possibly be,” May described. “[On set] we’re doing these things with their own hands, and [we’re] wearing what they would wear [in the time period].”

Oscar-nominated Elliott, who plays lawman Shea Brennan, believes the Western represents a classic form of storytelling in Hollywood with themes that are still relatable in the present day.

Sam Elliott as Shea of the Paramount+ original series "1883."
(Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2021 MTV Entertainment Studios)

“I just think that there’s something about that kind of a classic struggle depicted in a lot of westerns that appeals to a massive audience,” he reasoned. “It speaks of where we all came from. The peaks of that journey from the east to the West, what we did along the way, both the good and the evil, most of the evil. Taylor Sheridan writes about all the history and I think that’s what’s going to be most appealing about this [show].”

“1883” airs Sundays at 9 pm ET on Paramount Network and is available to stream on Paramount+.

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