SUMMARY OF ICE WINTER 1995 ISSUE
Eric was called " Walks with Cheekbones" by one reviewer, and, " That piece of Carved Mahogany" by reviewer Ethlie Vare from COUNTDOWN Magazine. Chosen as one of People Magazines Most Beautiful People in the World a few years back and his name pops up all over the online networks as one of the hottest Native hunks women repeatedly want to know more about. Eric Schweig (Inuit) is not just another pretty face in the entertainment business. According to this article, at the time he was the highest paid Native actor in the film industry, and had Hollywood Agents scrambling to his door. In November of 95 he began filming "Dead Mans Walk," with Edward James Olmos playing of all people, a hunchback on a horse.
Raised by what he termed as, "brutal" adoptive parents in the little town of Inuvik, right above the Arctic Circle. He left home at sixteen and found work framing houses in Toronto. As he grew to manhood he became more intensely proud of his Native Heritage by getting involved with the Canadian Alliance and Solidarity for Native people. Growing up in Inuvik he came upon severe prejudice, expressed by classmates who called him, "Redskin and nigger", and openly jeered when the "darkie" had the audacity to try out for a school play. On his own, walking down the street one day he was handed a card from a man who said he may be interested in auditioning for a project called, "The Shamans Source." He did, and was on a cinematic roll.
Last of the Mohicans was what catapulted him to the head of the Native "brat pack" that began to take the industry by storm. He takes nothing for granted in the business. The idea that Native actors compete in a different way than non-Native actors for plum roles in a limited niche clearly bothers him. "Theres this paternalistic attitude in the business that we are always clawing and scratching and stabbing our way to get these roles and its not true," said the deep voiced actor from the home of a friend. " I guess I resent that picture of us more than anything, the idea that we should be so grateful for the sometimes four of five minutes we get on the screen its like we are supposed to give our blood for the role, and I cant get into that crap at all."
He is ready for any roles that challenge him. "Will I take anything that comes along with no consideration for anything but the money?" He chuckles at the question. "Well, I tuned down about thirteen million dollars worth of work in the last few years, so I guess theres your answer. I take roles for different personal reasons". So why Tom Sawyer? Playing "Injun Joe" didnt seem like that much of a creative stretch. He wanted to play Injun Joe because he knew he would get a chance to be mean and the kids in the film were naturals.(Brad Renfro as Huck Finn and John Taylor as Tom Sawyer)
According to the article he was also at a point in his career where he felt he could direct if the opportunity presented itself. Working with some of the best directors in the business, he freely admitted acting was where he was, but by being on so many sets and working with people on various skill levels, he could also bring on a hands-on approach to dealing with other actors. He enjoys the craft of acting itself and believes if you go for a role, do your best and do not kiss somebodys behind . He believes in earning the respect of the people who are doing the hiring. He is adamant about not being drawn into the game playing that he feels separates the professionals from the short term actors. "In this business you deal with very some very fragile egos." They have to have respect for your work itself. How can you respect someone who kisses the backside of everyone they meet. Laughing at every stupid joke, putting on an act to get along at all costs? It's the work that's important." He laughs easily.
Clearly Schweig is more comfortable with staying down to earth, associating with the musician buddies he jams with in and around Vancouver, (he' a drummer) and is not at all impressed by the Hollywood scene that sucks some lesser talented actors in a whirlpool. He says he can do that scene if he has to but he just doesn't like it. He likes not being easily recognized when he goes out. Once when he was doing a film they wanted him to fly to Toronto for some bigwig dinner with key people but kept thinking, " Why am I here for this bullshit role while everyone is sitting around the table talking stuff .I wanted to know what I had to do to get the job .in fact I HAD the job and that was that". He also stated some people get into that but he doesn't and just wanted to get out of there.
He acknowledges that there are no actors angst in preparing for a role. He usually does not look at a script too carefully until he is ready to start filming. He knows what the story is about and if he's comfortable with that then he doesn't worry about it. He goes in to do his work and does not take it home. He stated, " It bothers me that we get a lot of stuff passed to us that has us practically grunting or speaking in a monosyllabic manner, it can get frustrating." He admires what he calls naturally talented actors who make acting seem effortless for example, "Gary Oldman". Now regarding the hunchback role they wanted to know if the "Major Native Hunk", on the Internet could be really comfortable with that kind of a cinematic stretch? " Oh yeah", he chuckled loving the thought. A hunchback on horse yet, with spinal meningitis, getting fitted with a prosthesis, yeah, I can really get into that!"
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(Article summarized from original 1995 Article-Property of ICE originally written by Rebecca Cochrane)
(Picture property of ICE)
(Rose 99 Copyright)