Entertainment

‘1883’ Isabel May Podcast ‘Awards Chatter’ Interview – The Hollywood Reporter

Isabel May is one of the most promising young stars in Hollywood. She’s 21, who is recently known, if at all, for playing one of two lead roles on the Netflix sitcom Alexa & Katie, lasting from 2018 to 2020; a recurring season on the CBS sitcom Young Sheldon during the same period; and the lead role in the 2020 independent film Run Hide Fight. But then she was cast as Elsa Dutton, the central character and narrator Taylor Sheridan‘S Yellowstone-prequel 1883and when Paramount+’s 10-episode limited series began debuting late last year, quickly becoming a chart hit, it was clear that a new star was on the way.

In a recent episode of The Hollywood Reporter‘S Chat Award podcast, May – whose appearance is strikingly similar to Jennifer Lawrence, another actress who got her start on a sitcom and then broke through in a no-makeup outdoor part – reflected on her journey. You can listen to the entire conversation or read an excerpt of it below.

Where were you born and raised and what do your people do for a living?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, Santa Monica / Venice area. I wish I had the traits of someone who grew up in Southern California, but no, I can’t surf. I have blonde hair and freckles, so at least I can pretend. I am just a child. My mother has been doing public relations for many years. My father did all sorts of things in the industry. Now they invest in real estate.

I understand that you are a rather introverted child.

I don’t know how to interact with kids my age. I read like crazy. I just had trouble communicating. But I had a wonderful sixth grade English teacher who recognized my love of stories and storytelling, and he encouraged my parents to let me be a little more social, So I started auditioning. And from there I got the managers like now.

You went to regular school until ninth grade and then homeschooled. How soon after leaving regular school do you start working?

I got my first job five months after leaving school. It was definitely the right decision.

That first job is Alexa & Katie. You play the lead role of Katie, Alexa’s supportive friend who has cancer. At 16, isn’t that like being thrown into the deep end?

Oh, completely. I will never watched a former sitcom. I don’t find myself funny at all. I really wish I was like that. During that show, I went through a lot of stress. I started to lose patches of hair. I turned into a small toothpick. I just focus on work and don’t take care of myself.

How are you different when the show ends than when it begins?

Oh, I’m finally willing to call myself an actor. It took me three years to be able to say, “I’m an actor.”

At a certain point, you hear about an audition for Mayor of Kingstownone of those crazy shows that Taylor Sheridan has been juggling at the same time.

I went in for Mayor of Kingstown last year around March. It’s a myth to think it hasn’t been that long. I remember getting the face and seeing that it was a woman named Iris, and it was a Taylor Sheridan gig. I looked up at his working body and said, “Oh, my God! He’s made some movies that I just adore, Hell or high water is one of them. I didn’t realize he was doing television.” I sent a tape. He called the next day. So I flew to Texas, had a day to prepare, and then drove to his place. We did three scenes – I read with him, it was fun, I’d never done that before – and then I had to go to Atlanta to do a little rom-com called I want you back with Charlie Day. Then I got a call from my manager, and it was weird because she was crying. She said, “You don’t understand. But he wrote you an email. Please read it. Receive. Process. ” So I read it and he basically said, “You auditioned for me for the last time. It’s my quest to find your next job.” And I said, “Damn. I can’t believe a director, let alone someone of this caliber, sends such thoughtful things.”

And you don’t think, “This is just a very polite guy that I’ll never hear from again?”

No, that’s exactly what I thought. Deep down, I don’t want that role Mayor of Kingstown. It demanded something I didn’t want to give – I was too young, 20 – with nudity. But I love what it requires emotionally. Anyway, I think maybe in 5 years there will be a cute little role that he will want to put me in. But he called my manager two weeks later and said, “I want Isabel on the show that I” I was writing. It’s a prequel to Yellowstone, but that’s its own thing. There was always a missing piece and I figured out what it was and it was Isabel. What I see in Isabel is hope. That’s why she couldn’t perform this role in Mayor of Kingstown. That character has no hope.” I still think anyone like Taylor would say that. And he said, “It will go through her POV and you will hear her voice throughout it. She is telling the story. ” He said, “I will send these scripts as I am writing them.” And so within two months, he submitted all 10 scripts. I have never cried so much while reading something.

You’ve done very different demo hits before, so you don’t have to be on every list.

I was in are not list, let’s be honest. No one knows who I am. It’s really unbelievable. I don’t know how any of this happened.

For someone who hasn’t seen it yet 1883Who is Elsa?

Elsa is the oldest child of this Dutton family, who has never seen anything outside of her small town and has never experienced love, sex, anything, so she is. just want to go out and experience the world. The show follows the Dutton family as they travel from Tennessee to Texas, and then from Texas to Oregon because they want a new, better life. And you see it through her point of view, after a young girl matures over a period of six months.

Elsa’s parents are played by real-life couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. Are they people you know?

I don’t know who they are. I listen to jazz and folk music, so I’m not used to them.

What about Sam Elliott, who is as attached to the Western genre as anyone alive today?

The first time I met him, he took my hand and looked at me and I said, “Okay, I get it.” And he said, “It’s going to be a wild ride.” And then he said, “I’m too old to be here.” Because his role was written for a 45 year old. But I think it’s him that’s perfect because we need wisdom there. And, man, he blew everyone away.

Taylor is a cowboy in real life and he insists his actors look believable, even sending them to a cowboy training camp…

I found out from the naysayers that who we are working with is a cowboy camper with Yellowstone actors that we did real tools and that Yellowstone the actors are playing childish – no shade, just talk! But, yes, every day we wake up at 6:30 a.m., have breakfast, then we’ll hop on the horses and herd the animals, practice jumping rope, go into these fields and play games together. And by the way, this is all in 103-degree Texas weather, making you sweat.

How much time have you spent on a horse before?

Never been on one before, so I really had to figure that out as quickly as possible!

How do you achieve the accent you used?

I really wanted to work with a dialect coach because it was 1883, they were from Tennessee and I wanted to make it as accurate as possible. The voice Taylor referenced was originally Philip Seymour Hoffman’s in Cold mountain. I remember going, “It was very strong.” So I actually worked on that. Listen, I went looking for it. I actually sound like my grandma, who’s from Tennessee.

Did you record those dubs before or after filming your scene?

I did ADR for all 10 episodes in one day, before we shot anything. I was like, “I need a little more time to really understand this accent.”

How were the conditions under which you acted different?

They were too extreme. You’re in 106-degree weather in Texas, then in Montana, you’re in 10-degree weather. My problem is, when it gets cold, I have to take off my clothes.

And no makeup, right?

Just lots of dirt. And notably, it almost makes you look good. I said, “You know? This has given me a little bit of contour. My cheeks are a little droopy. It’s beautiful. I don’t look like I’m 13.”

The first episode aired on December 19. Was that the first time you watched it?

Taylor is going to play the first episode, whether anyone likes it or not, when we’re going to have dinner or something, so I watched the first episode a million and one times. But I haven’t watched any of the other episodes in full. I watched certain scenes just to see how they came out, but for some reason I didn’t want to. Maybe I’ll come in due time.

What is your biggest dream for the future?

I want to work with Cameron Crowe one day, and I want to play Edie Sedgwick. That is my dream.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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