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Toronto Star '92 Article

 

Star Gazing: By Rita Zekas

 

I knew the minute I saw Eric Schweig on screen for the first time in The Last of The Mohicans that he wouldn't survive to the end of the picture. He was to beautiful to live. Call him Walks With Cheek Bones. We went into the movie theatre with lust in our hearts for Daniel Day-Lewis. Who knew? Schweig plays Uncas, Mohican son of Chingachgook and "brother" to Hawkeye (Day-Lewis). Sorry Danny Boy, but Eric just blew you off the screen. Hey you'll always have your Oscar.

Schweig was not just a prurient interest on my part. I'd had calls from dozens of like-minded women who wanted to know everything about him. Primarily, whether he was married. He's not. His other vital stats: Height: 6 foot 2. Weight: 185. Date of birth: June 16, 1967. Eyes: brown. Hair: NOT TO BE CUT. He's very particular about that.

He was born in the Yukon to an Inuit mother and German father. We tracked him to his Vancouver agent Deidre Sam, who said the interest in him was staggering. Eric Scweig fan clubs were springing up all over. Sam had been finding a score of movie offers. Schweig, she said was in Atlanta filming the CBS pilot, Shenandoah. He'd phone me, she promised.

We didn't hold our breath. One week went by, two, three......Finally, on Friday, the last day of the shoot, he called. He;d just wrapped and was checking out in the morning. We knew he could cover his tracks well. Schweig dismissed all the female adulation as "ridiculous, it's nuts. There has been some outrageous fan mail. If it all went away, it's okay. I'd go back to houseframing. I'm happy up, down or all around." He's only been acting for six years, "before Mohicans, on and off." He'd done TV commercials, a Glass Tiger video, and limited theatre work: he played Shaman in a Theatre of Change production of The Cradle Will Fall. "I'm from Inuvik. Five or six years ago, this guy walked up to me on the street and gave me this card. He said I should come in and audition for a low-budget flick called The Shaman Source. "We need an Indian Dude", he said. I got it. Then I got an agent. I did extra work in Vancouver-I like to be around the process (of filmmaking). I don't hobnob or do parties or do coke. I just go to LA to do business."

Mohicans came about through the usual casting cattle call. They saw him on videotape, and he flew to Los Angeles then a call back to North Carolina, where it was shot. "It was a hard shoot for everyone. It was long, almost five months of principal photography, a nightmare for the crew. We called the (director) Michael Mann, "Michael Maniac" by the end of the shoot. Sometimes he wouldn't call lunch until we'd been shooting for 10 hours. We'd rebel."

He didn't particularly bond with Lewis. "Daniel Day is an introvert, he's sort of nondescript. He does his job and then leaves. I liked the cast." Since Mohicans, he has done the TV movie Lucas B and Broken Chain, a TV movie shot in Richmond, Va., for TNT in which he plays Joseph Brandt. "It's about the Mohawk and Six Nations Confederacy. Graham Greene plays Peacemaker, whom my younger brother sees in a vision." In Shenandoah, he plays Moses Moon, out to avenge his ancestors' deaths at the hands of the Blue Coats. "One speech is, "listening to my daddy talk about my grandaddy, who the Blue Coats killed. They killed 4,000 Cherokees. I manage to come out of this pilot alive-I'm the only cast member without a gunshot wound."

He's off to Russia in February to do a movie about wolves." I didn't even have to know anything else about it, I'm going." Russia in February. Brrrrrrrr. "I, m used to it, I was born in the same latitude." He's enthusiastic about playing the lead in One Hawk Moon Rises, the Stephen J. Cannell series he's up for. "I'm sick of period pieces. I'd play an undercover Indian cop; I can keep my hair long and run around with a .44 and not be running around the bush with a buckskin. I won't cut my hair, I've been growing it for eight years. For Shenandoah, I had to sit in a chair for hours having a bald cap applied." Schweig had his own fledgling production company, Eat the Rich Company Productions. "When I was 6 or 7 months old, I was put up for adoption and I got brutal white (adoptive) parents.When you're raised like taht, you understand ignorance and arrogance so I got involved with the Canadian Alliance and Solidarity for Native People. I hang out with outlaws, people from the American Indian movement. I'm sick of going into a 7-Eleven and having white moms grab their kids and circle around, scared I might steal their kids and eat them.

I can't correct every bonehead that said anything denigrating. I'd be fighting all day. Some people come up and ask, " Are you playing an Indian?" No, I'm playing a person. As long as there are Euro-American filmmakers, "Indian people can call them that", as long as the producers are Euro-Americans and so is the audience, there will be emphasis on brutal violence like in Mohicans. Dances With Wolves was a little calmer. I want the audience to see Indians through my eyes. People have to see that Indian people can cry, laugh, drive around in a Mercedes, can wear midnight black Armani suits and still maintain their spirituality."

 

 

(Re-typed from original article as it appeared in the Toronto Star'92)