The Real Reason Isabel May Took The Role Of Elsa Dutton On 1883


The story of Paramount’s “Yellowstone” prequel series “1883” is primarily told through the perspective of Elsa Dutton (Isabel May), who acts as the narrator for the series and as one of its central protagonists. Indeed, much of the story is devoted to her transformation throughout the Dutton family’s journey to the west, as this innocent cowgirl adapts to the wild conditions of the American frontier. As such, it’s not a stretch to say that Elsa serves as the heart and soul of the series: capturing the hope and innocence at the core of American expansion.

Much of Elsa’s impact on the series also comes from the excellent performance of Isabel May herself, which Taylor Sheridan says helped to “unlock” the show’s potential and fully realize his creative vision (via Deadline). Considering just how instrumental May is to the success of “1883,” it may surprise some fans to learn that she only ever got the role of Elsa Dutton due to a failed audition on another Paramount series — and that she had a pretty important reason for taking the part.

Isabel May took the role of Elsa Dutton because it was her dream to work alongside Taylor Sheridan

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Isabel May explained that she was actually offered the role of Elsa Dutton after auditioning for a character of Taylor Sheridan’s “Mayor of Kingstown” — a series which focuses on a corrupt family of power brokers in the prison town of Kingstown, Michigan. May revealed that she auditioned for the series but was “terribly wrong for it,” and a few weeks later she received a call from Sheridan himself asking her to play Elsa Dutton instead.


“He called two weeks later and said, ‘You’re Elsa Dutton. I want you to be Elsa Dutton. Please be Elsa Dutton,” May explained “And I said, ‘Well, of course, I’ll be Elsa Dutton because you’re Taylor Sheridan and it’s my dream to work with you.'” May emphasized that she took the role because she loved Sheridan’s work and wanted to work alongside him, and it seems like Sheridan felt the same way even after just that initial audition — as he told her on the phone that “Elsa came to life” during her audition for “Mayor of Kingstown.”

Considering the fact that it was Isabel May’s dream to work with Taylor Sheridan, it’s completely understandable why she accepted the offer so quickly, and makes it clear that her role in “1883” was a match made in heaven. In any case, this revelation further reiterates just how essential May was to “1883” as a whole, and as shows yet another example of how her incredible performance managed to help the show reach its full potential.


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