If 1883 returns, James Landry Hébert tells WTW he's ready to ride again

James Landry Hebert as Wade riding a horse in 1883
James Landry Hébert as Wade in 1883. (Image credit: Emerson Miller/Paramount Plus)

NOTE: This interview includes spoilers for 1883.

The last time viewers saw James Landry Hébert's character Wade in the 1883 finale, he was riding back to Texas with Colton (Noah Le Gros). We heard Elsa's (Isabel May) voiceover saying that their future would likely be unmarked graves somewhere in the prairie. Hébert has a different vision for his character’s fate.

"When we filmed at the 6666 Ranch out in West Texas, the neighboring ranch is the Pitchfork Ranch, which was started in 1883," Hébert tells What to Watch. "I kind of always had delusions that Colton went back with Wade and they rounded up those cows and they started the Pitchfork Ranch in 1883. Maybe something in Ennis’ name even."

Ennis of course refers to Eric Nelsen’s character who was Wade’s original compatriot before he was killed in episode 5. As Hébert sees it, their friendship and Ennis’ death may have led to a change in Wade.

"In my backstory, I always felt like Ennis wanted to start this big ranch and this operation and that Wade wanted to keep it simple. The way things transpired, I thought maybe Wade would grow up and start that ranch for Ennis and take on that responsibility he didn’t want to.

"I always joke that we’re going to get a spinoff show, Colton and I, called Calving Season — [singing] ding-da-la-ding, we’re still alive and we’re doing calves," the actor teases.

However unlikely that particular spinoff may be, many have wondered if there is going to be more of the Paramount Plus western that built a sizeable fandom. 

Prior to the show’s final episode, there was an announcement that there would be more of 1883 — many believing that could mean a second season. But the season one finale brought the story of the Duttons and the other main characters to a natural conclusion. Comments from creator Taylor Sheridan further supported the idea that he was done with this specific story. 

In the same announcement saying there’d be more of 1883, it was also revealed that another generation of the Dutton family would be the focus of a new series called 1932. Though Hébert says he is not sure what Sheridan’s plans are for continuing these Yellowstone prequel series, he is ready to reprise his role as Wade when (and if) he ever gets that call.

"Wade is my favorite character I’ve ever played in my life," Hébert says. "If I could play Wade for the rest of my life, or my career, I would. So hell yeah, in a heartbeat, if they wanted Wade back I’d be back."

This statement comes after a six-month-long production, preceded by what was dubbed "Cowboy Camp," where the actors learned to ride, drive wagons and more. Hébert — who says he works as a ranch hand when he is not acting and was talking to us from his home in Acton, California, where you can ride your horse to the local saloon — describes it as one of his favorite chapters of his life. He recalls how great it was to work with Sam Elliott and how Tim McGraw and Faith Hill would try to keep things light on the set, including McGraw’s penchant for little pranks like tapping him on one shoulder and then being behind the other.

One of Hébert’s favorite memories was when they were training for the river crossing scene and Eric Nelsen’s horse just decided to lay down in the river.

Alex Grady, James Landry Hebert and Eric Nelsen laugh as they rise horses in 1883

Alex Grady, James Landry Hébert and Eric Nelsen in 1883 (Image credit: Emerson Miller/Paramount Plus)

"I thought it was so funny that his horse laid him down in the water and he was just soaking wet all day," Hébert says. "And of course, when we got to film the actual river crossing, my horse did the exact same thing. So as soon as we hit it my horse laid down in the water and I was soaking and they [the production team] were like 'just go with it.' So yeah, joke was on me in the end."

Hébert has had roles in some big-time projects, including Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood and in two episodes of Stranger Things season 2, but he had not experienced the kind of reaction to his work that came with 1883 before. He specifically remembers going to a rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas, with Nelsen, where fans greeted them warmly.

"We go to the bathroom, we’re standing there at the urinals, chit-chatting and then the guy to my right looks over to me and is like, 'Anybody recognize y’all yet?' I said, 'Yeah, but not at the urinal. This is definitely a first.' He was like, 'Alright, well you all killed it. I loved you all in the show.'

"I was pretty tickled by that."

As for what’s next for Hébert, he’s in the process of looking and auditioning for his next role. He says he would love to stay in the western genre and era of 1883, citing Kevin Costner’s upcoming series Horizon as something he’d love to try and be a part of. He also said that we would love to work with Taylor Sheridan again.

"I want to work with Taylor Sheridan for the rest of my career," he says. "He just makes such fun, badass, you know, cool stuff. I want to be a part of that."

All 10 episodes of 1883 are available to watch exclusively on Paramount Plus.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.