The Biggest Lesson LaMonica Garrett Learned From Sam Elliott On The 1883 Set


“1883” may have ended, but the memories live on — especially for LaMonica Garrett, who plays Thomas. As the right-hand man to Sam Elliott’s character Shea, Thomas helps lead the pioneers through the Wild West, up the Oregon Trail, in search of a better life.

It’s a role Garrett felt honored to play, especially alongside such a living legend as Elliott, who has starred in such iconic fare as “Tombstone” and the “A Star Is Born” remake over the course of a 50-plus-year career. Garrett, for his part, has also built an impressive resume during his relatively short time as an actor, one that includes starring roles on “Sons of Anarchy,” “Designated Survivor,” and the CW’s Arrowverse.

On screen, it was match made in cowboy Heaven, with Shea and Thomas sharing a captivating bond on “1883,” which streams on Paramount+. Off screen was not much different, according to Garrett, who told Looper during an exclusive interview, “When you first meet Sam, you know you’re going to work with Sam Elliott, and you get that knot in your throat, like, ‘Oh, wow. All right, this is big.’ The moment you meet Sam and he gives you a hug and he looks at you, it’s like, ‘We’re going to have a great time.’ He gives you that wry kind of grin, and all the nerves go away.”

Aside from making a new, life-long friend, Garrett also learned an important lesson from the veteran actor — a lesson he also shared exclusively with Looper.

Sam Elliott still has ‘passion’ for his work

“I think one of the main things I took away from Sam is, he’s been in this business for so long and he’s been doing it at a high level for so long and he still has passion and love for the art of filmmaking, the craft,” says Garrett. “Some people, they’ve been doing it a while and they call it in. They’re like, ‘Yeah, give me the check … Doesn’t matter what the project is, just give me my money and I’m gone.'”


Elliott conveyed this passion for his job beyond words, just by hanging out on the set even when he didn’t need to be there. “Day in and day out, he was the first one there, while they’re setting up cameras, talking about whatever shots we were doing that day,” says Garrett. “He would have his apple box, sitting in the middle of the director and the camera people, and he was in it. When he was done shooting for the day, he would come back later to watch us do our scenes because he was a fan of watching actors work and watching all points of it. He loved being with the crew on set. He loved talking films and everything to do with filmmaking.”

Watching that love of the craft taught Garrett a very important lesson, one that he’ll carry with him throughout the rest of his career. “I don’t ever want to get jaded,” he says. “I haven’t been doing this nearly as long as Sam or a lot of other people, but I want to keep that [spirit]. That’s the reason why he’s still making high-level art, and the reason why he’s still looked at how he is looked at — he’s never lost that icon mystique status of Sam Elliott.”

All ten episodes of “1883” are now streaming exclusively on Paramount+.


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