Wes Studi

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Wes Studi
WesStudi.jpg
Studi at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, December 7, 2008
Born Wesley Studie
(1947-12-17) December 17, 1947 (age 66)
Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma
Occupation Actor
Years active 1988–present
Spouse(s) Maura Dhu

Wesley "Wes" Studi (born December 17, 1947) is an award-winning full-blood Native American actor and film producer from the Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma near Tahlequah, and who has won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Native Americans in film.[1][2]

He has appeared in well-received Academy Award-winning films, such as Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves, Michael Mann's The Last of the Mohicans (1992), and the Academy Award-nominated films Geronimo: An American Legend (1993) and The New World (2005). He portrayed General Linus Abner (an analogue to the biblical Abner) in the NBC series Kings, and Eytukan in James Cameron's box office blockbuster Avatar.

Early life and education[edit]

Studi was born Wesley Studi in No Fire Hollow, Oklahoma, a rural area near Tahlequah named after his mother's family.[3] He is the son of Maggie Studie, a housekeeper, and Andy Studie, a ranch hand.[4] Until he attended grade school, he spoke only Cherokee at home.[5]

In 1967, he was drafted into the Army and served 18 months in Vietnam. After his discharge, Studi became politically active and participated in the Wounded Knee Incident at Pine Ridge Reservation in 1973.[5]

He taught classes in the Cherokee language and syllabary (writing system), and helped found a Cherokee-language newspaper. He went into ranching. After his marriage ended in divorce, Studi left ranching and started to study acting - a friend had recommended it as a place to meet women.[2]

Career[edit]

Studi promoting healthy living among Native Americans in a CDC ad.

Studi appeared in his first film, The Trial of Standing Bear, in 1988.[3] He is best known for his roles as ruthless Native American warriors, such as a Pawnee in Dances with Wolves (1990), and Magua in The Last of the Mohicans (1992).[5][6]

A year later, he was cast with Eric Schweig for TNT's film The Broken Chain, about the Iroquois League based in present-day New York state. It was shot in Virginia. This was part of a group of productions shown over 14 months on TNT as its "Native American initiative", including three television movies and several documentaries. A six-hour history series was told from the Native Americans' perspective.[2]

In 1993 Studi had the lead in Geronimo: An American Legend.[7] He showed a talent for comedy as the superhero Sphynx in the 1999 film Mystery Men. In 2002, Studi brought to life the character of Lt. Joe Leaphorn, for a series of PBS movies based on Tony Hillerman's novels set in the Southwest among the Navajo and Hopi. It was produced by Robert Redford.

In 2005, Studi portrayed a character based on the Powhatan chief Opechancanough in The New World, directed by Terrence Malick.

On April 20, 2009 Studi appeared as Major Ridge, a leader of the Cherokee before removal to Indian Territory, in Trail of Tears, the third episode of five in the PBS series We Shall Remain, portraying critical episodes in Native American history after European encounter.[8] The ground-breaking mini-series affirms Native history as an essential part of American history, and is part of the public television's acclaimed series American Experience. Studi spoke only his native Cherokee in his performance.

In 2009, Studi appeared in James Cameron's science fiction epic Avatar. He played Eytukan, the chieftain of a Na'vi tribe, more or less playing the exact role he had played in Pocahontas except only this time he was a blue skinned alien.

In Santa Fe, Studi serves as honorary chair of the national endowment campaign of the Indigenous Language Institute.[3]

Personal life[edit]

After an early marriage and divorce, Studi married again. He and his wife Maura Dhu Studi have three children, and in the 1990s moved to a ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico.[2] Studi and his wife perform in the band "Firecat of Discord". They have a son, Kholan. Studi has a daughter, Leah, and a son, Daniel, from a previous marriage.[9]

DUI Incident[edit]

On July 26, 2013, Studi was arrested in Santa Fe, New Mexico for driving under the influence of alcohol after refusing a field sobriety test.[10] During the ensuing altercation with police, Studi reportedly used racist and sexist comments toward a white officer. Studi later apologized.[11]

Honors[edit]

  • 1994, Won a Western Heritage Award (shared with cast and crew) for Geronimo: An American Legend (1993).[7]
  • 1998, The Dreamspeakers Film and Festival honored Studi with its Career Achievement Award.[3]
  • 2000, Motion Picture and Television Fund's Golden Boot Award.[3]
  • 2000, Artist of the Decade at the First Americans in the Arts Awards.[3]
  • 2005, The New World was nominated for an Academy Award.
  • 2013, Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers - Western Heritage Award, Oklahoma City, OK

Filmography[edit]

Year Film Role Notes
1989 Powwow Highway Buff
1990 Dances with Wolves Toughest Pawnee
1991 The Doors Indian in Desert
1992 The Last of the Mohicans Magua
1993 Geronimo: An American Legend Geronimo
1993 The Broken Chain Seth / Chief / Speaker for the Tribes
1994 Street Fighter Sagat
1995 Lone Justice 2 One Horse
Heat Detective Lou Casals
Streets of Laredo (Famous Shoes) Indian friend of Pea Eye TV
1996 The Killing Jar Cameron
1997 Crazy Horse Red Cloud TV
1998 Deep Rising Hanover
The Horse Whisperer parks guard
Soundman Terry Leonard
1999 Mystery Men The Sphinx
2001 Ice Planet Commander Trager
Christmas in the Clouds Bingo Caller
Road to Redemption Frank Lightfoot
2002 Undisputed Mingo Pace
Skinwalkers Lt. Joe Leaphorn
2003 Edge of America Cuch
The Ugly One Father Mike
Coyote Waits Lt. Joe Leaphorn
2004 Echoes from Juniper Canyon Grandpa Voice
A Thief of Time Lt. Joe Leaphorn
2005 Into the West Black Kettle
Animal Creeper Voice
Miracle at Sage Creek Chief Thomas
The New World Opechancanough
2006 Three Priests Ben
2007 Seraphim Falls Charon
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee Wovoka
2008 Comanche Moon Buffalo Hump TV
Older Than America Richard Two Rivers
2009 Avatar Eytukan
Trail of Tears Major Ridge
Kings General Linus Abner
The Only Good Indian Sam Franklin (main character) Executive Producer
2011 Hell on Wheels Chief Many Horses TV
2012 Being Flynn Captain
2013 Sugar Bishop
Road to Paloma
2014 Planes: Fire & Rescue Windlifter Voice
A Million Ways to Die in the West Cochise

References[edit]

  1. ^ Galbraith, Jane (1993-12-14). "Q&A WITH WES STUDI : 'I Came Into the Business at the Right Time'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  2. ^ a b c d Kevin Carter (222 December 1993). "Actor Champions Indian Heritage". Philadelphia Inquirer (Orlando Sentinel). Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Wes Studi", Native Networks, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b c Lewis Beale (1993-12-16). "Wes (`Geronimo') Studi Wary Of Political Correctness". New York Daily News (Chicago Tribune). Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  6. ^ Kevin L. Carter (1993-12-19). "YELLING GERONIMO! WES STUDI'S FILM AND TV ROLES ALLOW HIM TO WALK IN HIS ANCESTORS' SHOES". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  7. ^ a b National Cowboy Museum official site, retrieved February 7, 2008.
  8. ^ We Shall Remain, 5-part series, American Experience, PBS. Note: The five-part series is available online for viewing at this website.
  9. ^ Wes Studi, biography, IMDB
  10. ^ http://www.krqe.com/dpp/news/crime/actor-wes-studi-arrested-for-dwi-in-nm
  11. ^ http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S3113831.shtml?cat=504

External links[edit]