Re: Casting Russell Means

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Posted by Sarah on October 14, 1998 at 07:19:51:

In Reply to: Re: Casting posted by Petra on October 13, 1998 at 22:54:41:

: Sarah,
: I think I know what you mean about Russell Means and was thinking the same thing. I had read his book before I ever saw the movie and remember thinking 'What, that's HIM?' Yes, it was his first movie, and in his book he talks about how he was hired. I thought that was hilarious how he describes his auditions!

: He writes: "One day in 1991 in Chinle, the phone rang. A beautiful human being named Bonnie Timmermann, a highly respected casting director, called to ask if I would be interested in auditioning for an important role in a major motion picture. I don't get many calls like that!" (p. 511) and continues further down: "I knew nothing about the entertainment business, so I had no idea that actors customarily pay their own way to auditions, or that I couldn't learn all I needed about my part by skimming the script en route to Hollywood." When they sent him a coach class instead of a first class ticket, he just didn't go: "I thought, there goes my movie career, and left to handle some business around Gallup." (p.512) They had a limo waiting for him at the airport and Michael Mann was waiting at the studio in vain... But they rescheduled.
: At his first audition, he read from the script:

: "Knowing nothing of screenwriting, I said, 'I ain't gonna read this sh**! Indians don't talk this way!' The look on Bonnie's face told me that she was about to die of embarrassment. She had taken a liking to me, however, so she tried to salvage what was rapidly turning into a fiasco. She said, 'OK, then improvise.' I spoke to the camera in what I felt was more appropriate language." (p.512)
: The next day, he had to read for Michael Mann and began by paraphrasing the script:
: "Turning to Bonnie, he said, 'What is this?' Obviously embarrassed, she said, 'Oh...I...uh...I told him it was OK to improvise.' Michael turned to me and said, 'Could you just read the lines as they are written?'
: 'But Indians don't talk this way!'
: 'Would you just do me a favor and read the lines the way they're written?' He sounded a little edgy.
: 'OK, the way you want it is the way you'll get it.'
: I read the script. In my own mind, both it and my performance were crap. I would later learn that Michael wrote it, and that he's a genius in his own right." (p.512)

: Mann asked Russell Means to come to New York for a second reading with DDL and a session with a drama coach was arranged for him. What he learned there, gave him "immense respect and admiration for writers." (p. 513) He says he related to Chingachgook, and at the audition, where he had to go through the scene after Uncas' death, he actually cried, much to his own astonishment.

: That must have been quite interesting seeing those two, Mann and Means, interact.
: Petra


Thank you so much for that! I had his biography in my hands but didn't buy the book, now I'm rather interested to read it. Can you imagine turning down a chance to star in a major film because they sent coach tickets rather than first class? I find that very interesting!

If Means' comments in the featurette are a truthful indication, he seemed pleased with the end result of LOTM. Which is good.


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