Blood Tribe actor from Alberta speaks Blackfoot language in Wonder Woman movie
'I'm so grateful to represent my people, my culture and my language,' says Eugene Brave Rock
Eugene Brave Rock has been travelling the world, chasing his dream of making it big in Hollywood since he was 17.
Now, with a role in the box office smash Wonder Woman, Brave Rock is breaking new ground in his career.
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He's also become a hometown hero for the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta, where he was born and raised.
"It's overwhelming, but it's great," said Brave Rock, 39.
"I'm soaking it in. It's wonderful. I'm so grateful to represent my people, my culture and my language to the rest of the world."
He plays the character "Chief" in the movie and introduces himself in his native Blackfoot language to Wonder Woman, played by actress Gal Gadot.
"It's unprecedented, especially in a role that has to do with Indians; it's someone else's interpretation of Native Americans. [In this business] people are told what to do and how to do it. But I was given so much control," said Brave Rock.
The DC Comics superhero film, distributed by Warner Bros., is breaking box office records. It boasted the biggest-ever opening weekend for a film directed by a woman — Patty Jenkins.
"I'm so thankful to Patty Jenkins for giving me the opportunity," said Brave Rock.
'Like a ton of bricks'
Looking back at his audition for the role two years ago, Brave Rock said he didn't take it too seriously. He drove down to Hollywood to audition at Warner Bros. studios and wasn't told any details about the movie.
"I had no idea it was for Wonder Woman … I lost it when I showed up and I couldn't remember my lines," he laughed.
The casting director encouraged him to read off the script, and he was told then and there that he got the part.
"I didn't take it literally until a month later, I got a call saying I got the role and they wanted me to fly to London for a fitting," he said.
That's when they told him it was for Wonder Woman. Brave Rock filmed for six months and had to keep things quiet until promotion of the movie began.
"It's hitting me right now like a ton of bricks."
He said his co-star Gadot was interested in his Blackfoot culture and language.
"Gal was down to earth and a great person to work with. She was amazing. She was interested in the culture."
Keeping cultural values close
Brave Rock has had the ambition to act in movies for as long as he can remember. He said he has taken every opportunity he's had to make it in the often cutthroat world of acting.
Along the way, keeping his culture front and centre has been a priority, said Brave Rock.
"I would've never been involved in this if I didn't keep my cultural values close to me — like even having long hair, riding my horse, singing, dancing, speaking my language, travelling around the world. I keep my cultural values close."
Brave Rock worked as a stuntman after training to ride, fall and fight in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in Paris. Providing stunt training on The Revenant was a daunting experience he said he'll never forget. He is also known for his work on the Hell on Wheels TV series.
Brave Rock wants to encourage other aspiring Indigenous actors.
"I know the struggle here in southern Alberta as well as many other First Nations — it's scary when you grow up on the rez. There's a lot of hardships and struggles," he said.
"I'm on the outside looking in, and it's great … but travelling around the world has given me appreciation for my culture and our values, and it's given me a better understanding of myself, who I am and who we are as a people."
Brave Rock is busy auditioning for other TV and movie roles and plans to spend time with his wife and 20-month-old son this summer.