B.C. First Nations actor Duane Howard stars alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy in the highly anticipated film The Revenant

"I was not intimidated but more or less like self-conscious," said Howard, a Nuu-Chah-Nulth actor, who now lives in Vancouver. 

The movie opens on Christmas Day and stars DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, a 19th Century fur trapper who seeks vengeance against the companions who robbed him and left him for dead following a vicious grizzly bear attack. 

Directed by Oscar-winning director Alejandro Inarritu, 52-year-old Howard plays Elk Dog, an Arikara leader in search of his missing daughter. 

"The dialect, it is very different," said Howard of having to play his roles as a First Nation from South Dakota.

"Trying to study and memorize the lines and make sure the pronunciation is right."

Howard said it has been a true honour to work alongside Hollywood stars and producers. 

Lonely road to success

But the journey to becoming a successful actor was a lonely one. 

"I didn't feel supported at the beginning through some of my family and some of my friends," he said. 

He was first approached by a talent agent in Vancouver years ago. He had walk-on roles on the X-Files while working at a desk job.

"I had to make a quick decision whether it's office work or movie star," he said, "I wasn't making much money, so I just stayed with my desk job." 

It wasn't until four years later that he came back into show businesses as a stunt actor and later as an actor. 

As a youth, Howard struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and spent time living on the Downtown Eastside. 

Today, he is sober and has reached the glitz and glamour of the red carpet.


To hear the full interview click on the audio labelled B.C. First Nations actor talks about his role in 'The Revenant' on the CBC's On The Island.