When actors Michael Greyeyes and Chaske Spencer first read the script for Lyle Mitchell Corbine, Jr.’s “Wild Indian,” they immediately knew they were in.
“I was gobsmacked when I finally had a chance to read the script,” Greyeyes told culture and events editor Marc Malkin in the Variety Studio presented by AT&T TV at Sundance Film Festival. “It was intense, I had to finish it, skip dinner, just keep reading.”
Spencer agreed. “It just blew me away,” he said. “You don’t get too many scripts like this for Native American actors.”
“Wild Indian” follows two men who are bound together by a shared secret: covering up the savage murder of a schoolmate. After being separated for years, they must finally confront the past and how the secret has shaped their lives.
“When I realized Lyle wasn’t shying away from [character] Makwa’s violence and internalized racism, it took me a moment to figure out how I’m going to negotiate my way through it,” Greyeyes said. “As indigenous people, we believe in telling stories in a good way. … I think it helped me handle some of its darkness.”
Corbine wrote numerous drafts of the script, resulting in his most personal film to date. He had never directly written about growing up on a reservation. As he penned the story, he envisioned his cousin and pulled in elements of himself to flesh out Makwa.
It was a refreshing moviegoing experience for his family.
“I think they were just proud to see something about themselves reflected in the film,” Corbine said.