March 23, 2009

Twilight Wolf Pack announced

Summit Entertainment Runs with the Wolf Pack in The Twilight Saga: New MoonSummit Entertainment announced today that Native American/First Nation actors Chaske Spencer, Bronson Pelletier, Alex Meraz, Kiowa Gordon and Tyson Houseman have signed on to star as the members of the wolf pack in THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON. In the film, the wolf pack defends humans against vampires although they have a tribal history intricately entwined with Edward Cullen and his family. The wolf pack members will join Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and fellow wolf pack member Taylor Lautner in the film directed by Chris Weitz which will be released domestically November 20, 2009.

Each member of the wolf pack is of Native decent. Spencer is Lakota (Sioux), Pelletier is Cree-Metis, Meraz is Purepecha (Tarasco), Gordon is Hualapai, and Houseman, who was discovered at an open casting call, is Cree. Casting of the wolf pack was overseen by award-winning casting director Rene Haynes who is well-known for her work on Native projects ranging from DANCES WITH WOLVES to BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE.
Comment:  The Hollywood Reporter adds, "All five announced Monday will make their big-screen debuts in the film."

Let's note that Summit was basically shamed into hiring Native actors. In my opinion, of course, since I'm not privy to the inner workings of the Twilight movies.

Making up for its previous mistakes, look how proudly it's touting the Native heritage of the "Wolf Pack." And how it doesn't mention Lautner's minuscule Native heritage.

Also note that referring to these Indians as the Wolf Pack will reinforce the notion that they're beast-like.

For more on the subject, see Quileute Werewolves in Twilight.

Below:  "Where's my wig so I can look like a real Indian?"


Anonymous said...

complaining when they weren't casting natives not still complaining when they do... no win situation

Anonymous said...

Are they not native enough or is it that you just don't like the whole wolf-pack. Sorry I guess if they didn't like it they wouldn't have auditioned but they did. Just get off it already.

kalisetsi said...

I didn't know exactly what to think when they announced the casting. Yeah, proud of the Native youth that were cast and the opportunity this represents for them, but Rob as you said at the end of your post- they are cast as members of the wolf pack, in a fictional movie about fantastical creatures including vampires, and the only Native tie-in I can tell from what little I've read on this is that the author took a lot of liberties in her interpretation of Quinalt "legends," and unfortunately then represented them as being historically accurate (a fact which was at the very least unethical). Nothing about this film is Native in my opinion. Yeay for the actors, I'm sure they will do well, and they deserve equal opportunity for the exposure. But now that its a done deal, what have Natives gained from this?? A reinforcement of the historical association of Natives with animals and fictional creatures in the mind of mainstream America. Frankly it doesn't seem like a win.

Anonymous said...

One positive we can hope for ( I stress the word hope) is that these actors will get some type of recognition since the movie is so anticipated. Perhaps now they can get the exposure needed to become mainstream actors in Hollywood and not just 'needed native actors'.

Rob said...

Actually, I've constantly complained about racist and stereotypical portrayals in Twilight and elsewhere, Anonymous. This posting isn't a new complaint, it's a reiteration of an old complaint. If that makes you feel any better. <g>

Three mainstream hit movies in a row with Native characters and you expect me to "get off it"? There's zero chance of that. As long as the Twilight movies are a leading example of Indians in the media, I'll be covering them.

I agree that Twilight is a mixed bag at best, Kalisetsi. To state the obvious, exposure is good but stereotypes are bad. Indians as heroes is good but Indians as secondary characters is bad. Etc.

I trust my coverage will reflect the "two steps forward, one step back" nature of the movies. I didn't have to post anything about Twilight's hiring Native actors, for instance, but I did. The best part is that these actors will get the experience and name recognition needed to earn more jobs.

P.S. It's the Quileute tribe, not the Quinault tribe.

kalisetsi said...

Thanks for the correction re: Quileute tribe. Wonder what they have to say about all of this. Hey, maybe they can get the Twilight author to sponsor an annual Twilight-Quileute college scholarship as a small gesture of acknowledgment for all of the money she has made off of the Quileute mystique..... ;)

Anonymous said...

Many Twilight fans have already embraced these new cast members...mostly because of their 'hotness'(it's teenage girls, what can you expect?)

The media is going to have to pick up on this and give these guys the same exposure given to the existing cast from Twilight.

But will they get the same type of coverage or will they be ignored when it comes to tv interviews, promotional appearances, etc?

Anonymous said...

I was hoping you would get off it-- but as you said there is zero chance...

"Indians as heroes is good but Indians as secondary characters is bad."

True, true. We are in agreement there.

Twilight is eloved by a lot of people (I enjoyed the books myself to tell the truth) but I see your point and agree the stereotypical nature and asepecst that you are pointing out now.

I don't believe Stephanie Meyers set out to do this but she in effect did take liberties and mispresented a tribe's legend and made them secondary characters.

Well actually Jacob is quite primary to the movie and part of the "love triangle" which encompasses the middle 2 books - but we have already rehashed the fact he was not cast with a Native Actor and doesn't win the girl so won't go down that road again.

Rob said...

"Hotness" isn't a good reason to hire non-Native rather than Native actors, of course. It's a good reason to find and hire "hot" Native actors.

Will the Wolf Pack get covered in the media? They'll get covered in Indian Country Today, the leading Native newspaper, at least. The editor has asked me (!) to write an article about them.

As for what the Quileute think, I gather they're happy or bemused by the extra tourism around their reservation. I haven't heard any Quileute reactions to the books or movies.

Interesting idea about the Twilight people giving back to the Quileute community. I haven't heard anything about anything like that. We'll be lucky if New Moon doesn't perpetuate more stereotypes--such as putting the Native guys in girlie-style wigs.

I wonder if Meyer is aware that she's violated Native standards by using Quileute legends without permission. That would be a good reason to give something back to the community. I'm guessing she isn't aware.

Rest assured that I'll "get off" Twilight when it's no longer in the news. Long-time readers know how much time I devoted to such projects as Apocalypto, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and Comanche Moon. Now they're old news and no longer interesting.

kalisetsi said...

I'd definitely hesitate to make guesses as to what the Quileute think of all this. I would be extremely interested if someone were to reach out to them and ask their opinion. (Congrats on the ICT article, btw!)

Agree with you on Meyer's probable obliviousness to her faux pas by Native standards, but I don't give her a free pass for claiming in interviews that her storyline was based on authentic Quileute legends when as a writer she knew she had taken creative liberties in her interpretation of them (result: maybe a fine work of fiction, but culturally inauthentic). Regardless of her familiarity with Native culture, she should know that's a little unethical simply as a writer. Fudging the truth a little in the interest of sales.

One last note, Rob. As a writer who contributes to major Native news outlets such as ICT and, not to mention this blog.......when you say that you'll get off Twilight when its no longer in the news, do you think you might be overlooking that in some respects, YOU ARE the news (or at least a cog in the greater "news machine")? People read what you write; therefore you have some degree of power and influence yourself.

Rob said...

Yes, I realize I'm a cog in the greater "news machine." But I doubt I'm saying anything that diehard Twilight fans (i.e., Twihards) aren't discussing somewhere.

Have you read any of their online conversations? They'll go on for hundreds of messages about every little plot or character issue, including casting decisions.

Anonymous said...

These gentlemen, Chaske's pic for example, are covered in the main stream media, A LOT, and have been covered by some great online blogs for years...note where you got his picture from in a blog done on NativeVue from 2007!

Anonymous said...

cbrh ha ha ha

Anonymous said...

Please don't feed the already inflated ego machine called ROB. He is a legend in his own mind, and certainly not a " cog " by any standard, in any credible "news machine " other than the one's he forces himself on. He is just like "Meyer ", another non-indian trying hard to be indian. Get a real life, Rob.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that these cast members are part Indian at least and not of spanish background.

It is a fictional story. I think everyone is getting too deep into thought of what is hidden behind the words.

Indians are known to be spiritual and just like us they are regular people who are lucky enough to have a protection on their heritage (land, schools, etc..)

But it is just a book and a movie and that is how the writer intended it to be. So Chillax!