Tim McGraw Explains How He Got Tom Hanks To Appear For A Cameo In 1883

If you're a "Yellowstone" fan, you probably tuned in to the series' new prequel, "1883," which premiered yesterday, December 19, on Paramount+ with two back-to-back episodes. You may also have done a double-take at the beginning of episode two when a familiar face made a brief but poignant cameo.

Yes, that was Oscar winner Tom Hanks sitting alongside Tim McGraw in an open field littered with dead bodies during a flashback to the American Civil War. He portrays real-life historical figure General George Meade, who tries to console lone survivor James Dutton (McGraw), the great grandfather of John Dutton (Kevin Costner, on "Yellowstone").

It's a moment that really stands out, not just for the surprise factor of Hanks appearing ever-so-briefly on the small screen, but also for the raw emotion of the scene. It's a moment that means a lot to McGraw, who recently delved into how the cameo came about and what it means to him personally during a roundtable interview that included Looper.

It was as simple as 'tell me when, tell me where, and I'll be there'

In addition to McGraw, the main cast of "1883" includes his real-life and onscreen wife Faith Hill, Sam Elliott, LaMonica Garrett, and rising star Isabel May in a rough-and-tumble tale of a wagon train traversing the Wild West in order for its passengers — including the 19th-century Dutton family — to start new lives.

How did Hanks get on board? "Well, Faith and I have been really good friends with Tom and his wife Rita Wilson for almost 25 years. So, when I read the script for the second episode, I had an idea. I called Tom and said, 'Faith and I are doing this show, and it's our first really big part where we're trying to carry a series together. What do you think about showing up for this cameo?' And he goes, 'Tell me when, tell me where, and I'll be there.' It was that simple."

It went so smoothly, in fact, that Hanks and Wilson even stayed with McGraw and Hill for a few days leading up to filming. "But the morning that we shot the scene," says McGraw, "we separated from each other. He didn't want to see me, and I didn't want to see him. The first time we actually see each other on set is when he walks up to me in the scene. We did that on purpose."

That planning helped seal the emotional context of the moment. "When I fell apart emotionally, part of that was certainly the scene and the devastation that was in front of me, losing all my men for a cause that I didn't believe in. But also it was knowing that one of my best friends showed up and was there for me. When he grabs my shoulder, it just made me fall apart because we've tried to do stuff together over the years and the timing never worked out. So, to have him there to support us for such a big project was pretty special. That shows you what kind of guy Tom Hanks is."

"1883" streams exclusively on Paramount+, where new episodes are available every Sunday.