LaMonica Garrett (‘1883’): ‘Thomas is an amalgamation of all those famous Black cowboys that we’ve never heard of’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“I knew that this was a character I’d never seen in a western,” proclaims LaMonica Garrett about his role on the Paramount+ limited series “1883.” Garrett stars as Thomas, a former slave and army sergeant who helps guide a group of travellers from Texas to Oregon. Among the travelers is the Dutton family, who will eventually settle in Montana and create the ranch that is the setting for the popular drama “Yellowstone.” In our exclusive video interview (watch above) Garrett talks working with the show’s creator Taylor Sheridan and the potential impact the role could have on future westerns.

Garrett was initially attracted to the project because Thomas’ race is not at the forefront of the drama. The actor, who calls himself a fan of westerns, describes the impact of having a main character of color in a genre that isn’t known for racial diversity. “There are just so many perspectives that we don’t know about,” he argues. “Throughout the 1800s, there were so many Black cowboys that helped build this country, that have so many accomplishments and contributions to building the American West, and Taylor showed us that. Thomas is an amalgamation of all those famous Black cowboys that we’ve never heard of.”

One of the show’s closest relationships is between Thomas and his fellow veteran Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott). Garrett describes the bond between Thomas and Shea as unique in that race is never a factor in their dynamic. “I love the fact that race isn’t mentioned and it’s just these two guys” he explains. “They understand each other. They know each other. The left hand knows what the right is doing. They have their routines.” Garrett describes his close working relationship with Elliot and says the two actors were aware of the significance of their characters’ friendship. “We knew the impact of this relationship,” says Garrett. “We’ve never seen that before, especially in this genre.”

The character of Thomas had endured hardships long before the events of “1883,” something that Garrett says explains the character’s more reserved yet idealistic personality. “He knows how harsh this world can be, but he also knows the growth in humanity,” he says. “He’s seen what life can be. So he has that hope in him, but he keeps a lid on it.”

Garrett argues that westerns continue to attract audiences because they can relate to the simple theme of survival no matter the time period or the setting. “Things have gotten a lot easier in modern day with technology and all, but it’s still a struggle,” the actor says. “Everyone’s fighting their own battles in westerns. You get to see that battle firsthand without phones and television getting in the way.”

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