November 29, 2009

How Chaske Spencer got started

Oklahoma-born actor Chaske Spencer becomes leader of the pack in “Twilight: New Moon”For Spencer, 34, his first major role as an actor was playing the title character in an off-Broadway production of “Dracula.” The Oklahoma-born thespian finds himself at the other end of the supernatural spectrum in “New Moon” as Sam Uley, a Quileute Indian who becomes first of his generation to tap his people’s genetic ability to transform into werewolves. Their job is to protect the tribe from vampires, and Sam becomes leader of the pack.

Born in Tahlequah, the Lakota Sioux actor grew up on reservations in Montana and Idaho. As a child he dreamed of becoming a photographer but eventually moved to New York City to pursue acting. After doing some theater work, he was discovered by TV and film casting director Rene Haynes, who cast American Indian actors to play the “New Moon” werewolves.
More on how Spencer got into movies:

Alpha wolf in 'Twilight' blockbuster has Poplar roots

By Elizabeth L. HarrisonWhen Chaske was 17, some friends of his parents invited the family to the First Americans in the Arts Awards in California. It was there that he first crossed paths with Great Falls native Rene Haynes, a Los Angeles-based casting director recognized for her Native American and First Nations casting.

"Rene Haynes was there, and she said, 'That kid has some real talent,'" Jan said. "And I kinda always knew, because he's so determined."
And:The woman he had met with his parents on their trip to California cast him in the 2002 feature film "Skins," about a Lakota Sioux tribal police officer in South Dakota.

"She's altered my life," Chaske said about Haynes, a graduate of C.M. Russell High School.

Haynes said Chaske was a latecomer in the auditioning process. Just before they made their final casting decision, Chaske's parents' friend Bob Hickswas talking with Haynes and mentioned Chaske.

At the time, the actor did not have an agent, so he had not been submitted for the film. Haynes got in touch with him and had him overnight a videotaped audition.

"It really was one of those 'stop the presses' moments. As I said, we were about to cast someone else—but when we got to Chaske's tape that all changed," she said. "He had the ideal look, and he was an excellent, skillful actor."
Comment:  Spencer must've attended the first FAITA ceremony in 1992. I've been attending these ceremonies since the fourth year in 1995.

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

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