NEW YORK – As a child, Chaske Spencer had dreams of becoming a photographer.
He never imagined he’d find himself in front of the camera as a successful Native actor with a role in one of the most anticipated movies of summer 2010.
Chaske (pronounced Chess-kay) Spencer is a Sioux, Nez Perce, Cherokee and Creek actor who is originally from Tahlequah, Okla.. He’ll reprise his role as Sam Uley, the lead wolf of the Quileute tribe’s wolf pack, in the “Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” June 30.
Spencer scored the role of Sam after an audition for the second movie in the series, “Twilight Saga: New Moon.” According to the movie news site, Box Office Mojo, “New Moon” shattered the box-office record for biggest opening day gross by making an estimated $72.7 million the first day of its November 2009 release. Since then, Spencer’s been inundated with interviews, photo shoots, auditions and projects.
Right now, he’s getting ready to do a lot of press for “Eclipse,” which Spencer said is way darker than the prior “Twilight” movies.
“Get ready to be blown away,” he said.
The movie is the third of four movies based on the hit Twilight Saga books by Stephenie Meyer, which focus on ill-fated lead character Bella Swan, who’s a teenage Washington high school student who finds herself in a love triangle with a 17-year-old vampire and a 16-year-old werewolf. Meyer’s books are a continuous tale of love, loss and even horror told through the eyes of Bella, who is hunted by evil vampires and rescued and protected by the good vampires and her werewolf best friend.
Spencer’s character, Sam, and the rest of the wolf pack will have to step up in “Eclipse” to fight side by side with the good vampires to protect the humans who live nearby from the bad vampires.
The Quileute characters in the book live on the La Push Indian Reservation in Washington and “New Moon” director Chris Weitz insisted on authenticity when casting the characters for the movie.
“They had to have papers that proved their heritage,” Weitz said in a 2009 interview with USA Today.
Though many fans now see his face and automatically think of him as Quileute alpha wolf Sam Uley, that’s OK with Spencer.
“It’s great,” he said. “Sam is a great character. It is great to do something beyond the leathers and feathers roles that are often available,” he said.
Spencer, who’s appeared in “Skins,” “Dreamcatcher” and the TV miniseries “Into the West,” said it’s been very exciting to him to see such success in the entertainment industry.
“(It’s) a dream come true,” Spencer said. “It was nice to act in a movie as a Native American minus the stereotypes.”
Through the whirlwind of fame, traveling, events and shooting for the next movie, Spencer recalls his most memorable moment up to this point.
“Probably when my manager called to tell me I got the role (of Sam Uley,)” Spencer said. “And I couldn’t tell anyone!”
He now resides in Brooklyn, New York, and his work calendar is filling up faster than he can keep up with.
Spencer is currently finishing a film called “Shouting Secrets” which is scheduled for a 2011 release. He has a lead role along with other Native actors. Shooting will be wrapping soon, then Spencer has other projects lined up including “Winter in the Blood,” and the fourth movie in the “Twilight” saga, “Breaking Dawn.”
“I’m also launching my Native American water rights project on June 14 in L.A. called ‘Shift the Power to the People,’” he said. “It’s all very exciting.”
His production company plans on shooting “The Block” later this year as well.
“The Block” is a feature-length documentary and feature film that Spencer teamed up with his manager Josselyne Herman and veteran producer Ted Kurdyla to feature Spencer’s passion for making a difference with all people in the area of reducing poverty and creating sustainable communities. His production company, Urban Dream, is developing the project.
At the end of the day, Spencer said he’s just a normal guy who loves apple pie and French fries and maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts to let fans keep up with him and vice versa.
“It is my lifeline to the fans for sure,” he said.
Spencer said he appreciates all the “Twilight Saga” fans.
“Thank you to everyone who has been following the “Twilight Saga,” he said. “You guys are the reason it is a success and we appreciate your loyalty.”
But Spencer said he does have things that keep him grounded as a Native actor in the entertainment business – strong family bonds.
“I know where I came from, and I know who I am.”