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Life After ‘Wolves'--A Tale of Two Actors

For the two actors who won widespread critical praise for their prominent American Indian roles in “Dances With Wolves,” the impact has been decidedly different.

One is sifting through “dozens” of scripts, sounds beleaguered by the hoopla and avoids political questions related to the film, which depicts the near-destruction of the Indian nation from its viewpoint. The other is having trouble finding work and paying his bills--but feels reborn as a Native American activist.

Graham Greene, the veteran Canadian actor who portrayed the peaceful, spiritual Kicking Bird, works fairly steadily: a feature in Canada, “Clearcut,” filmed last fall; a role as a lawyer on “L.A. Law,” just completed; a play lined up in the spring.

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Orion’s “Dances With Wolves,” he concedes, “was certainly the biggest film I’ve done. It’s made definite changes in my life--I’m more popular with the media, scripts are being offered to me from people I’ve never heard of. On the other hand, I’m being inundated. It’s good in a way. I shouldn’t complain.”

Greene says he’s proud of his performance and the “overall effort” of star-director-producer Kevin Costner, but is clearly uncomfortable with the soapbox.

“Everybody’s getting political on me,” says the recently married Greene, who has portrayed characters ranging from Jewish to Latin to Cajun during his 16 years on stage and screen. “I tell them to take those questions to the politicians.

“I’m sort of a passive activist.”

Not Rodney Grant, who played fierce warrior Wind in His Hair.

“It changed my life--it really projected me to the forefront,” says the ex-Marine and father of two, who lives in Albuquerque with his wife Ka-Mook. He’s been busy promoting the film and speaking on Native American issues across the country, including the recent Palm Springs Film Festival. “Just last night, someone said it’s made me an ambassador of Native Americans.”

While he’ll be seen in two upcoming movies--ABC’s “Son of the Morning Star” and Oliver Stone’s “The Doors"--Grant feels that featured roles in hit films mean more to white actors than to American Indians.

“I’m looking for work,” says Grant, who grew up on the Omaha Tribal Reservation. “The biggest misconception is that since ‘Dances With Wolves,’ I’m rich. We got nothing of the (profits).”

About to leave for Europe to continue promoting the film, Orion covers only his expenses.

“It’s very hard--I have a family to feed,” he says. His dream is to work full-time as an actor. “But it’s not possible, especially for a Native American. The roles just aren’t there for us.

“You’d starve.”


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