The Chickasaw Nation announced yesterday that the cast of its planned biopic of Te Ata has been finalized, and that filming has begun.
Three of Indian country's favorite actors have landed the central roles: Q'orianka Kilcher will play Te Ata; Gil Birmingham will play her father; and Graham Greene will play the Chickasaw Nation Governor. The film will be directed by Nathan Frankowski, produced by Paul Sirmons, and filmed on location in Oklahoma.
Birmingham dropped a hint on his Facebook page a week ago, posting a picture of himself with Greene:
Judge Dredd issue no. 23, cover by Jeffrey Veregge
The full release from the Chickasaw Nation follows (and the answer to Birmingham's trivia question is Skins, Into the West, and Twilight: New Moon):
Award-winning Native American Actors Selected for Te Ata Cast
ADA, Okla. -- Following a nationwide search, the cast of Te Ata is set and filming is now underway in several Oklahoma locations.
Experienced, award-winning Native American actors are among those selected to bring the story based on the life of Chickasaw actress Mary Frances “Te Ata” Thompson Fisher to the silver screen.
Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said “film is a great way to preserve the legacy of Te Ata and other Chickasaws who have made a difference in the world.
“We are pleased we have such a diverse group of actors involved in telling the story of the impact Te Ata had on her audience and on society,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “Te Ata once wrote that art brings all people together. Her career bears testimony to the truth of that idea as her life’s work did a great deal to help bring diverse cultures closer together.”
Q'orianka Kilcher is Te Ata. At age of 14, Kilcher earned numerous nominations and awards for her portrayal of Pocahontas opposite Colin Farrell and Christian Bale in the Oscar-nominated film The New World, an epic about the encounter between English and North American societies in the early 1600s.
Gil Birmingham is cast as Te Ata’s father, Thomas Benjamin (T.B.) Thompson.
Born July 13, 1953, in San Antonio, Birmingham is best known for his work on Twilight (2008), The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (2011) and Rango (2011).
Oscar-nominee Graham Greene is Chickasaw Nation Governor Douglass H. Johnston.
Some of Greene’s film credits include: Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995), Green Mile (1999), and the television series Northern Exposure (1992-93) which earned him a Best Actor award at the First Americans in the Arts.
Greene’s performance in Dances With Wolves (1990) garnered an Oscar nomination.
Graham Greene was born June 22, 1952, in Six Nations Reserve, Ontario, Canada. He has been married to Hilary Blackmore since 1990.
Other principal cast members include:
Te Ata’s mother, Bertie, will come alive through the skills of actress Brigid Brannagh. A frequent guest star on various television programs, she portrayed Pamela Moran in the television hit “Army Wives” for six seasons until 2012.
MacKenzie Astin is Te Ata’s husband, renowned scientist and anthropologist Dr. Clyde Fisher. Astin has appeared in In Love and War (1996), The Facts of Life (1979) and Iron Will (1994).
Born near Tishomingo in 1895, Te Ata began her career as an actor and storyteller in the 1920s. She achieved national and international acclaim with her one-person performances of American Indian folklore.
Principal photography on Te Ata began Sept. 8 in Tishomingo and includes scenes at Pennington Creek, the Chickasaw Nation Capitol, the Chickasaw Bank and the Chickasaw White House.
Other locations in Oklahoma include the Sulphur area, Guthrie and the Oklahoma City area.
Nathan Frankowski, a director who has filmed in 35 countries and 45 states has been hired to bring the story based on Te Ata’s life to the screen.
Paul Sirmons, who started his career working on the hit television series The Waltons and later served as Film Commissioner in Florida, is serving as producer of Te Ata.
Te Ata, which means “bearer of the morning,” was named the first Oklahoma Treasure 25 years ago and is also a member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and the Chickasaw Hall of Fame.
The film’s progress may be followed at www.TeAtaMovie.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TeAtaMovie and Instagram at http://instagram.com/Teatamovie.