Isaiah Tootoosis had no idea who Leonardo DiCaprio was when his aunt brought him to a movie audition in Calgary.
The seven-year-old lives on the Poundmaker First Nation, west of North Battleford. He and his cousin were playing at a hockey tournament when a friend suggested they attend an open call for First Nations actors in Calgary.
The audition took 15 minutes. Within days, they learned Isaiah would be playing Leonardo DiCaprio's son in The Revenant.
"It was so fun," said Tootoosis, "He was real nice."
Great-grandson of Gordon Tootoosis
Tootoosis is the great-grandson of the late Gordon Tootoosis, a renowned Cree actor. The boy had never been on a plane before his aunt, Barb Tootoosis, brought him to the nine-day shoot in Los Angeles.
"We're not that type of people to be Toddlers and Tiaras people," she said. "It was crazy and really fast-paced."
From the outset, Tootoosis's family told him acting was a job. With two and a half hours of waiting to have his hair and makeup done each day, Isaiah's aunt promised to buy him a toy each day at the end of the shoot. She recalls standing near on the set, holding his toy dinosaurs for him.
He was not a fan of the early morning shoots, however, telling CBC News he had to get up "when the sun got up."
'I get to pretend'
When asked what he liked about acting, Tootoosis said "It's fun. I get to pretend."
"They treated me so nice," said Tootoosis. "I went swimming every day."
After meeting the boy, director Alejandro González Iñárritu arranged for an acting coach to work with him. His aunt recalls the moment they rehearsed a scene where Isaiah had to act sick.
"Within like two seconds, his breathing was calmed and he was shuddering and sick," Barb Tootoosis said. "It was just so natural, that's what freaked everybody out."
Isaiah's mother stayed at home on the reserve to care for his siblings during the shoot. She said the whole thing is still "unbelievable."
"I still can't believe he went to Hollywood," said Rachel Berland. She said her son now has an agent, and it appears he will try to move forward in the film industry.
Isaiah and his cousin still plan to keep playing hockey. But the child actor told CBC News he would like to make more movies and "get a big house in Hollywood someday."