12 April 2024

Actor Michael Greyeyes on why he’s still haunted by his Wild Indian character

That all-too-familiar sound of an email notification came only five minutes into my conversation with Michael Greyeyes. What I didn’t know until afterwards was that it the message telling him that he’d been nominated for two Gotham Awards – Outstanding Performance In A New Series for Rutherford Falls (yet to be screened in the UK) and Outstanding Lead Performance for Wild Indian, which arrives in cinemas and online this week. After positive receptions at Sundance at the start of the year and, more recently, London, the film’s turned out to be something of a watershed for the indigenous actor, whose slow-burn acting career started some 30 years ago.

The intense thriller from debut director Lyle Mitchell Corbine Junior is the story of Makwa. We first meet him as a teenager (played by Phoenix Wilson), living on a reservation and abused by his father, with only his cousin Ted-O (Julian Gopal) to turn to. Makwa’s simmering anger spills over one day when he shoots another boy and the two teens cover it up. Thirty five years later, Makwa is now Michael (Michael Greyeyes), with a successful career and comfortable life in California, while Ted-O (Chasske Spencer) is just out of prison and consumed with guilt about what happened all those years ago. He tracks down his cousin and, with the truth about his past staring him in the face, Makwa/Michael will do anything to protect the new life  he’s built for himself.

In the exclusive interview below, Greyeyes talks about why he’s waited his entire career to play characters like Michael, who is both the protagonist and antagonist in the film, and why he had no doubts about working with a first time director, knowing from the moment that he read the script that simply had to do the film. He also describes his difficulty in shaking off the role once the movie had been made. He was “haunted by the experience”, something that he’d never experienced before, but moving straight on to make Rutherford Falls, where he plays a completely different character, came to his rescue. And he offers his thoughts on who the Wild Indian of the title might be – and whether it refers to more than one person.

Check out the official UK Trailer below…

Wild Indian is in cinemas and on digital from Friday, 29th October | Read our review of the film.

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