Actor Conway Kootenay is still revelling in his latest project.
“If you didn’t get hurt then you weren’t really doing your job.”
Kootenay, who grew up on the Alexander First Nation west of Morinville, Alta., was hired as a stuntman for the Oscar-nominated The Revenant. The movie, which won Best Motion Picture at Sunday’s Golden Globes, was filmed near Calgary. It stars Leonardo Dicaprio and is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu.
“Fourteen-hour days; we are on set all day long rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing. The last two hours of sunlight Alejandro would use because this movie is all shot with natural light.”
Kootenay’s part is featured in the first six minutes of the movie during a battle scene. He says, while it was a Hollywood blockbuster with a $138-million budget, it’s not what you’d imagine a typical Hollywood set would be.
“There was no trailers, there was no tents, there was no heaters. Alejandro kind of wanted us to be in there.
“He didn’t want us to act. He wanted us to be there, just to do it, in the scene. And to me, that is genius.”
Kootenay only exchanged small talk with Dicaprio, but describes him as encouraging and professional.
“He would go in do his thing and then leave. Obviously, because he was there for nine months. We are there for a month-and-a-half.”
The Golden Globe-winning star was a class act, Kootenay says.
“He treated us very well. He treated the First Nations people very well, on the set particularly.”
The Revenant hired hundreds of extras from First Nations around Alberta.
“It’s not just us going on set … like in the old western movies where they would get a bunch of Italian guys, paint them Indian red, and say, ‘we want you to do all these stereotypical things.’ It wasn’t like that at all.”
“To me it’s a game changer.”
Kootenay hopes this is just the start. His next film Fantasies of Flying will be released later this year.