As It Happens

Actor Roy Dupuis slams 'The Revenant' for portrayal of French-Canadians

Quebec star Roy Dupuis says Oscar favourite "The Revenant" misrepresents French-Canadian coureurs des bois.
Actor Roy Dupuis has some issues with the way that French-Canadians are portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film The Revenant. Dupuis, right, is pictured above in 2012. (Left: Twentieth Century Fox/Associated Press, Right: CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)

Quebec actor Roy Dupuis is making headlines for his comments about the Oscar-nominated film The Revenant. Dupuis has concerns about the film's brutal, one-sided portrayal of French-Canadian fur traders known as coureurs des bois.

"I have certain difficulties with the credibility of what's happening in the movie," Dupuis tells As it Happens host Carol Off. "It's too bad ... because it's a movie that's going to be seen by hundreds of millions of people. It's an important movie."

Dupuis is most critical of Toussaint — the "leader" of the coureur des bois in the film. Dupuis was approached to play this role. 

I don't think I would have been able to play it.- Roy Dupuis

In the film, Toussaint and his men lynch an indigenous man. Toussaint also rapes an indigenous woman.

"This is probably the most violent thing he does," says Dupuis.

Dupuis says the relationship between indigenous people and the coureur des bois is a subject that he's "close with." Recently, he worked on a documentary that examined the topic. 

Dupuis says the French-Canadian characters in The Revenant are portrayed in a way that's "opposite of how most of the coureurs des bois lived their lives among the Indians. They were the ones who embraced their culture, who learned their language, who had children and married."

Dupuis was approached to play the role of Toussaint.

"But, they wouldn't let me read the script. So, I didn't push it further," he says. Now, having seen the film, he says, "I don't think I would have been able to play it."