June 30, 2012

Gary Farmer in Of Mice and Men

Mice role lured Farmer back on stage

Film veteran spends most of his time playing with blues band

By Adrian Chamberlain
Actor-musician Gary Farmer isn't singing the blues about his starring role in Of Mice and Men.

The 59-year-old is the leader of Gary Farmer and the Troublemakers, a hard-rocking blues act inspired by John Lee Hooker and Howlin' Wolf. The band--playing 100-plus gigs a year--is his main creative focus. As Farmer puts it: "I decided to retire to music."

Singing may have become his mainstay, but the Ontario-born performer--now based in Santa Fe, New Mexico--is best known as the veteran film actor who appeared in Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man in 1995 with Johnny Depp.

Farmer has acted in more than 100 movies and TV shows. Film credits include a lead in Powwow Highway (1989) and many roles with marquee Hollywood names: Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro in The Score (2001) and Lou Diamond Phillips in the Robert Redford-produced thriller The Dark Wind (1991).

When Victoria theatre director Brian Richmond offered Farmer the role of Lennie in Of Mice and Men--a stage adaptation of the classic 1937 John Steinbeck novella--he quickly agreed. It's a happy artistic reunion for the pair. Richmond previously directed Farmer, playing the same role, in Magnus Theatre's Of Mice and Men in the mid-1980s.

"I thought, 'Who could I cast in the role?' I couldn't think of anybody but Gary doing it," said Richmond, who maintains Farmer is one of the leading aboriginal actors of his generation.
Comment:  Farmer may be focused on music, but he still shows up in movies and TV shows. He may not actively pursue these roles, but he still gets them.

For more on Native actors in classic plays, see Tamara Podemski in A Midsummer's Night Dream and Schellenberg's King Lear Reviewed.

Below:  "Actor Gary farmer takes a break from rehearsing at UVic's Phoenix Theatre this week. Farmer stars in Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre's production of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men." (Lyle Stafford, timescolonist.com)

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