BY: DARLENE CAMPOS
Charlie Hill as Jay Eagle Thunderclap
Unfortunately, Mr. Hill passed away in 2013. He was a fantastic Native American stand-up comedian and actor. In fact, he appears in the Roseanne episode “The Last Thursday in November” as D.J. Conner’s teacher. He was also a guest on The Richard Pryor Show as well as The Tonight Show with both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman. His humor definitely fits the bill for Jay Eagle’s character.
Irene Bedard as Josephine Thunderclap
Ms. Bedard was phenomenal in the movie Smoke Signals. There is a scene in the movie when she tells Victor the real story of a house fire his father was involved in. Her delivery is spot-on and most of all, her acting makes you feel like you’re in the movie with her. She is outstanding on the big screen! I can’t imagine anyone else playing Josephine other than Irene Bedard.
Graham Greene as Mr. Wayne Graywolf
I’m a huge fan of Graham Greene. He plays Mogie in the movie Skins which is based on the novel of the same name by Adrian C. Louis. If you’ve read Skins, it’s impossible to imagine another actor playing Mogie. He’s charming, funny, and can adapt easily to any role he’s given. If anyone should play Mr. Graywolf, it’s him.
Sacheen Littlefeather as Sequoia Red Cloud
If you’ve heard of Marlon Brando, chances are you’ve heard of the time he refused to accept an Academy Award for Best Actor in The Godfather. Brando sent Littlefeather in his place to decline the award as a form of protest for the unjust misrepresentation of Native Americans in the film and television industry. I admire Littlefeather for her bravery in speaking up. If you look up her speech on YouTube, she was met with some applause, but also a lot of booing. Despite this, she kept on speaking. While Sequoia might not be the most likeable character among people, she holds her beliefs true to her heart, no matter what anyone thinks. Littlefeather would be perfect for this role.
Geri Keams as Yolanda Running Bear
Keams is an incredible storyteller, though she has appeared on several television movies and shows. I love how engaging she is when she tells a story. You can find her telling stories on YouTube if you just search her name. Ms. Running Bear is known for being a quirky science teacher, so I believe Geri Keams would fit this role just right.
Gary Farmer as Ray Firebird
This role is a big role. Gary Farmer stars alongside with Graham Greene in Skins as Mogie’s friend, Weasel Tail, which is where I first discovered his acting. He’s been in Smoke Signals and Powwow Highway where he is just as mesmerizing. Ray Firebird is a major character in Behind Mount Rushmore and only a major guy can play him. Gary Farmer is that major guy!
Eric Schweig as Gray Mountain Thunderclap
Like with Graham Greene, I’m a big fan of Mr. Schweig. He usually plays a tough guy, but a tough guy with a big heart. He plays Graham Greene’s brother in Skins and he does a fantastic job at this role. He’s flawed, but honestly, he’s an excellent brother in this film. He’s best known for being Uncas in The Last of the Mohicans, but this movie does him no justice. He is seriously underrated in the industry. He’s a perfect match for Gray Mountain Thunderclap.
Michael Peña as John David Gutierrez
Who knows where Nimo would be without John David? This role requires an outspoken nature, strength, friendship, and most of all, a smart mouth. John David doesn’t hold back and for this reason, I’d pick Michael Peña to take on this role. Peña played Cesar Chavez in the film of the same name and he was Sal Castro in Walkout. In these roles, Peña gave his all to stand up for what he believed in and never backed down. Peña has just what it takes to be John David.
Elaine Miles as Mrs. Rebecca Graywolf
Elaine Miles is probably best known for her work in the television series, Northern Exposure. She also starred in Smoke Signals and Skins as well. However, I first stumbled upon her acting in the mini-series The Rez in which she plays Mad Etta in the second season. She’s hilarious and unique not only as an actress but as a person, too. Mrs. Graywolf is a role she could master right away.
Last, but not least – who would play Nimo Thunderclap?
This is kind of a funny story. About a year ago, I went to my favorite Chinese restaurant here in Houston with my boyfriend. After dinner, we needed to get a few things from the grocery store down the road from the restaurant. Once we were inside, I noticed a young man, an employee specifically, who was the EXACT description of Nimo. I mean exact as in if I could make Nimo come alive from the novel, he’d look exactly like that employee. For privacy purposes, I won’t tell you the employee’s name, but I did ask him for helping locating an item I needed. He spoke just like Nimo and had his gestures. If there’s ever a movie or TV series based on Behind Mount Rushmore, I want to find this employee and ask him he’d like another job!
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