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An interview with Kiowa Gordon

SAN CARLOS, Ariz. – “What character do you play in the movie?’” a young female fan asked as Kiowa Gordon posed for pictures. “Embry Call,” replied Gordon, who was recently cast as one of five werewolves in the upcoming sequel to the blockbuster “Twilight” called “New Moon.” The movie and its sequels are based on novels by Stephenie Meyer. The fan screamed excitedly as she ran through the crowd at the San Carlos High School graduation.

Gordon, 19, Hualapai, agreed to attend the graduation as a special guest. It was his first major public appearance since filming with the rest of what Gordon refers to as the “wolf pack” in Vancouver, British Columbia, earlier this year.

For those unfamiliar with “Twilight,” the movie is about a high school girl named Bella Swan (played by Kristen Stewart) who moves from Arizona to Washington state where she meets a boy named Edward Cullen (played by Robert Pattinson); and the two fall in love.

“During the first three weeks I hung out with the wolf pack. We worked with a personal trainer. I gained five pounds. We all bonded and became like brothers.”

Through research and the help of a Native American teenager named Jacob “Jake” Black (Taylor Lautner), she discovers Cullen and his family are vampires. Black, a member of the Quileute Tribe, is part of an ancient line of werewolves unbeknownst to Swan. In the sequel, to be released in November, Black and four other Native American young

men emerge as werewolves.

Thousands of Native young men from the U.S. and Canada tried out for the four new roles. Gordon; Alex Meraz, Purepecha (Tarasco); Chaske Spencer, Lakota; and Bronson Pelletier, Cree-Metis, were fortunate enough to be cast.

According to Gordon, Embry Call is Jake’s right hand man, tall, skinny, shy and the fourth to turn into a werewolf. “We protect the tribe, protect them from vampires.”

At the graduation, Gordon signed autographs, smiled for photographs and endured surprise hugs and a kiss on his hand. The non-stop attention provided Gordon a glimpse of what is to come when “New Moon” hits the big screen.

Photo by Mary Kim Titla Kiowa Gordon, who was recently cast as Embry Call in the second installment of the “Twilight” movie series “New Moon” posed with students during the San Carlos High School graduation in San Carlos, Ariz.

The movie “Twilight” became a worldwide sensation generating $191 million in box office sales. The sequel is expected to bring in $200 million.

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Surreal is a word Gordon used to describe his experience. And no wonder; he was a virtual unknown when he landed the coveted role. Prior experience includes bit parts in Rick Schroder’s “Black Cloud” and PBS Pictures’ “Skinwalker.” “New Moon” is his big break. Would you believe he got a “C” in his acting class at Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek, Ariz., his hometown? Fellow werewolf Meraz also lives in Cave Creek.

During an interview prior to the graduation, Gordon said he was on track to earn a high school diploma at Career Success High School when he responded to the open casting call. He’s now set to earn a G.E.D.

“An acting coach worked with me for about an hour before the audition,” Gordon said. Ironically, “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer is a member of Gordon’s church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They attend the same ward.

Within a couple of weeks word came he landed the part of Embry Call. “My mom got an e-mail. She was ecstatic.” After speaking to the director on the phone, he was off to Los Angeles for a “cyberscan.” It’s a technique used in many movies to create real-life animation. “A machine went around my body to create a computer image so I could be transformed into a werewolf.”

“When I went to Vancouver, the first person I met was Alex Meraz. During the first three weeks I hung out with the wolf pack. We worked with a personal trainer. I gained five pounds. We all bonded and became like brothers,” Gordon said. “I’m the smallest (physically) but I’m the tallest.” Gordon is 5 feet 11 inches tall.

He describes a day of the set. “We spend an hour in makeup (basically) getting darker and they enhanced our abs,” laughs Gordon. “It was really cold, one degree Celsius. We wore robes before our shoots. All our scenes were outdoors. We had to get in the rain.”

Gordon met all the major actors and shot a scene with Stewart. “I’ve had long hair since the seventh grade, to my shoulders. Our hair has to be short when we become werewolves. I had no idea they were going to cut it. Oh man!”

“Twilight’s” worldwide massive fan base enthusiastically embraced the wolf pack. Gordon, who has a MySpace page, said before he landed the role he had 200 “friends.” Now he has 2,500 “friends.” During his down time in Vancouver, he and fellow werewolves dealt with the paparazzi who were eager to snap photos.

Gordon admits fame has its drawbacks. “People think I have money,” he said with a smile. While he landed a big role, filming lasted only two weeks although he flew back to Vancouver for a few more days for last scenes. “People also think I can coach them with their acting; I’m the last person they should be asking.”

His acting skills must be better than he thinks. He signed a contract to reprise the role in future sequels. In the meantime, he’s spending time in Germany learning to speak German. (He caught a flight to Frankfurt the day after the graduation). Gordon also hopes to go on a two-year mission for his church.

Gordon is the second youngest of seven children, he has lived on the Hualapai Indian Reservation in northern Arizona as well as Utah and California. His mother, Camille Nighthorse Gordon, is also an aspiring actress who also had a part in “Black Cloud.”