Everyone knows Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are Country Music Royalty, but who knew they both had the acting chops to pull off—no, they did more than pull off, they crushed the lead roles in the dramatic TV western, 1883 that premiered in December 2021, which is the prequel to Taylor Sheridan’s hit show Yellowstone, staring Kevin Costner, on Paramount +.
The series, which follows the post-Civil war generation of the Dutton family as they leave Tennessee, travel to Texas, and join a wagon train on an arduous journey west to Oregon, before settling in Montana and establishing what becomes the Yellowstone Ranch, has a phenomenal cast.
In addition to Faith and Tim, there’s the incomparable Sam Elliott; Isabel May; who delivers a compelling performance and provides the narrative of the series; a host of other outstanding actors; and guest appearances by Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, and Billy Bob Thornton.
I loved 1883. That has nothing to do with the fact that I had a great experience interviewing Faith Hill and Tim McGraw for the monthy celebrity column I wrote for ten years called “Up Close and Personal” that appeared in Luxury Las Vegas magazine.
How the interview took place is an interesting backstory.
Faith and Tim had different publicists. Faith’s publicist was in New York, and Tim’s was in Nashville. Faith’s publicist said I could only have 15 minutes with Faith, while Tim’s publicist said I could have the full hour that I requested.
I love asking questions that allow people to dip their toe into a pool of self-reflection or to dive in whole-heartedly. I planned to ask each of them the same questions and then print their answers consecutively so the readers could see how different or similar their responses were. The time crunch with Faith was going to be a challenge.
Fortunately, I interviewed Tim first. We talked about life, music, sports, politics, books, family, career, you name it. Tim was so relaxed and warm. When I told him I was going to be talking with his wife the next day, and I only had fifteen minutes, he said he’d talk with her.
Sure enough, the next day, Faith said Tim had so much fun. It was one of the best interviews he’d ever done, and she was excited to talk with me as well.
Like the characters they play in 1883, who faced hardship and heartache, Faith and Tim have had some challenges of their own. Although Faith had wonderful, loving parents and brothers, she was adopted; and Tim didn’t know who his real father was until he was eleven years old.
Prior to the interview, I wondered if they would be open to discussing those subjects, because those are the kind of stories that offer comfort and inspiration to so many others who have traveled a similar path. Faith and Tim did not disappoint. They were incredibly gracious, forth-coming, completely without pretense.
My interview with Faith and Tim runs eight pages, but I’ve posted a few excerpts here so you can get a taste. You can access the full article by going to the menu at the top of the page were you see Interviews.
Marsala: What five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Faith: We’ve had dinner with some amazing people, but I find the common person almost more fascinating than someone famous.
Rita Wilson taught me that there’s an art to putting together a dinner party.
I’d invite Bill Clinton who seems to know about everything, and he could play the saxophone after dinner; Jimmy Fallon and Sasha Baron Cohen would be hilarious. I love Jimmy Stewart. I’ve got to get some chicks in there. I’m obsessed with Martha Stewart. I’d love to talk with her about how organized her home, and Queen Elizabeth and Julia Child. Oh, that’s more than five.
Tim: George Washington. I don’t think we’d be where we are as a country if he hadn’t stepped up. He had the leadership, the thought process, the charisma, and respect. It was extraordinary to pull off what he did with what little he had. We didn’t win a whole lot of victories, but we won the ones we needed to. He was brilliant at listening to everyone’s plan without revealing his, taking the best parts and molding them into something that everyone had a vested interest in.
Abraham Lincoln—the weight he had on him with the civil war, the issue of slavery, and whether our country was going to hold together was enormous, not to mention losing a child and his wife’s issues. I’m looking forward to seeing Daniel Day Lewis play him in Spielberg’s movie Lincoln.
After those two guys it gets tougher. I’d love to sit down with Elvis. I had a recurring dream as a kid even into my early 20s that I snuck up to his bedroom at Graceland, and we talked. I’d invite a strong woman like Madeleine Albright, the first woman Secretary of State, and I’d want my daughters to listen to the conversation.
Marsala: What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness?
Faith: I’m a Type A no-nonsense person. I don’t waiver when it comes to my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. My biggest weakness is being so detail oriented that I can’t let things go. My husband and I have very different personalities. Tim is a big picture guy. He is my best friend, champion and supporter. He gives 150 percent when it comes to raising our kids. We have the same ideals when it comes to family and business. I couldn’t have a better partner to walk this path in life with.
Tim: My greatest strength is that when I decide to do something I’m very determined; the downside is that I get hyper-focused and have tunnel vision. Another weakness is patience, but I’ve gotten better having a wife and three daughters.
Marsala: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Faith: I spend time in my rose garden every day. Growing up my parents had a vegetable garden, and we relied on the bounty from it to survive. They still grow a garden, but now it’s a labor of love rather than a necessity.
The first couple of years my rose garden didn’t do very well; then it got more beautiful. I started to realize that the days I didn’t go out and see the roses I really missed it. Then I realized I really needed it. What started as a hobby became a necessity.
At night I’d go over the schedule for the next day, and realize if I didn’t wake up a little earlier, I wouldn’t have time to cut my flowers. So I’d set my alarm earlier. Being close to nature, taking the time to smell the roses, makes me feel closer to God. It brings me peace. The beauty reminds me of the simple things in life. It requires patience. Dealing with the stresses of being a mom, of recording my album, and dealing with my best friend who had breast cancer, my rose garden became my therapy.
Tim: I have my pilot’s license, but I can’t go on a roller coaster. I went on the Ferris wheel in Paris and froze. Also I come from a long line of Italians on my mother’s side. My Grandpop’s name is John Joseph D’Agostino, which is Giovanni Giuseppe. My great-grandfather was Donato Augusto.
Marsala: What’s it like working together?
Faith: When we met, I thought he was incredibly handsome and dangerous, the person I wanted to have babies with and grow old with. We came from the same backgrounds, and he felt like home, which gave me a sense of comfort. As far as working with him, Tim’s like Elvis with this charisma that’s like a 150 watt bulb, and I get to stand next to him. He probably hates working with me because I’m so detailed.
Tim: She makes me better. I’m not really a singer, I just sort of yell melodically, but Faith is one of the best vocalists you’ll ever hear. In a live setting she’ll blow you away. She’s like Aretha, Janis Joplin, and Bridget Bardot rolled into one. She exudes so much power and presence, energy and respect on stage, and then she opens her mouth and sings. Every time I’m on stage with her, everything in me tightens up. I really have to step up my game to sing with her and not let her down.
Marsala: What do the lyrics from the song, “American Heart” mean to you?
Faith: “It beats like a drum down in New Orleans, Sings like a Motown melody, It dreams like California, Bigger than the Texas sky, It bleeds, it scars, but it shines when times get hard, and you can’t break an American heart” reminds me of a revival.
When you think of America, you think about the great plains of Texas; about California where everyone wants to go and follow their dream; the great sound of Motown coming out of Detroit; the unique culture of New Orleans, where Tim and I spent a lot of time growing up; of Broadway and all the New York images.
I’m a news junkie. I read the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times every day, and I have a heavy heart about what’s happening in our country and outside it. When I first heard the song “American Heart,” I was cooking dinner. By the end of the song I was balling. There’s so much bickering and fighting; it’s enough already. We’re so much greater than that. We are resilient. We live in a time when you can say something and it can be taken out of context, and a second later it’s all over the internet.
I’m grateful my parents gave me such a strong backbone to be able to stand up and say no that’s not how things are, these are my beliefs and what I stand behind, period. Somehow we have to come together. Change is difficult, but there are major changes that have to be implemented for our children’s sake. We can’t be naive and think it’s just about us. We can’t just listen to the sound bites in the newspapers or on TV. We need to educate ourselves and get the full story.”
Marsala: Where does the title of your 11th album Emotional Traffic come from?
Tim: From a song I did with Neo called “Only Human.” The lyrics go ‘The kiss that never happened, the call that never came, the hurt you mask by laughing, the one that got away, It’s all in a day of emotional traffic, Stranded, broken and tragic.‘
The album features songs about middle-American struggles. To me, it represents a time in my career I don’t want to relieve that had to do with my battle with Curb Records, feeling my career was being suppressed and trying to find my way and see some light musically. I was experimenting with a sound I heard in my head, and I think there’s a great tapestry of emotion on the album that includes optimism. It was invigorating blending the types of songs I’ve always done with a new modernism. It offers a glimpse of where I’m headed with my music.”
Marsala: You’ve been in eight movies, including The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock (2009) and Country Strong with Gwyneth Paltrow (2010). What made you think you could act?
Tim: A part of me wanted to act before I got into music. When my music career exploded I got all kinds of offers, but I didn’t want to try my hand at it just because I was “a celebrity.” There’s a danger in that there’s a cool vibe that comes with being a musician and a lot of times you’re not supposed to be cool when you’re acting. There’s no hiding beneath your cowboy hat when you’re doing a film. You can only hide behind the character. It’s scary to let people see behind the facade, because if you don’t do it well it can hurt your music career, which is why I wanted to wait until my career was solid enough to take that risk.
Faith: I’m so proud of Tim. Music is his first love and he’s the best at that, but he has so much more depth as an actor that what people have seen so far.
Marsala: Tim, you did a great duet of “Sail On” with Lionel Richie on his country album “Tuskegee.” What was that like?
Tim: I can’t even process it. I sang Lionel Richie songs my whole life. It’s part of the tapestry of my life and everybody my age. You can’t hear one of his songs without recalling something that makes you smile. I’m a terrible piano player, and the only ones I can play all the way through are his songs. The first day I walked into the studio I told said to Lionel, ‘You have no idea some of the things I’ve done with your music.’ I didn’t even need a lyric sheet. I knew it like the back of my hand.
Marsala: What makes you angry?
Tim: I hate those damn Styrofoam peanuts that come in packages. Also peoples’ intolerance of other peoples’ stumbles. You have to make mistakes in order to learn, but in this age of instant information you can’t make a mistake without the world knowing about it and judging you for it. I think it makes everyone more phony than they ought to be because they’re scared to make a mistake.
Marsala: Last words of wisdom.
At a time when things change at breakneck speed and our minds are saturated with instant gratification, it’s easy to let your possessions define you as opposed to appreciating the things you can’t put a price tag on.”
Try to find the good in life each day because in a split second things can change drastically. Slow down, take a breath, live in the present, don’t let it pass you by. Let things fall off your shoulder a little easier. Be at peace. I have to remind myself every day.”– Faith Hill
Be accountable to yourself.”– Tim McGraw
You can read the full Up Close and Personal with Faith Hill and Tim McGraw article here.
Marsala, I loved this article!!!. Have been a big fan of Faith Hill and Tim McGraw for years and it was wonderful to get to know them better and experience their lives and thoughts through your questions.
Two people who could be anyone’s best friends. They are the real deal.
Jacqueline A Lewis
I just love Tim and Faith, for all the reason you brought out in this article. They are so real, down to earth and caring, they glow as husband and wife, mom and dad and artists who care about their music and fans.