Family & Companions
This often intimidating but charismatic and ruggedly handsome actor of full-blooded Cherokee heritage enhanced several thoughtful Hollywood Westerns of the 1990s by thoroughly embodying roles that would have once been mere stereotypes and imbuing them with depth and dignity. The intense and muscular Studi first gained attention playing the "toughest" of the Pawnees in Kevin Costner's ambitious and well-meaning revisionist work "Dances With Wolves" (1990). He also lent his powerful presence to Oliver Stone's "The Doors" (1991), as the silent Indian in the desert, before coming into his own as a film and TV character player.
The Oklahoma-born performer's native language is Cherokee, which he spoke until he started primary school at age five. Returning from serving in the Vietnam War, Studi became seriously involved with Native American politics. He joined the American Indian Movement and participated in their 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Studi subsequently attended college and helped start a Cherokee newspaper. He also began teaching the Cherokee language professionally before shifting to running his own horse ranch. The late 70s found Studi divorced and bereft of his ranch. Thinking it would be a good way to meet women, he decided to start taking acting lessons.
Studi gained substantial stage experience in many productions with the American Indian Theatre Company and in a touring one-man show, "Coyote Chews His Own Tale." He consolidated his standing in films with a searing performance as the fiercely angry Magua in Michael Mann's stirring adaptation of "The Last of the Mohicans" (1992). Studi finally entered the limelight via his gritty yet noble interpretation of the title role of Walter Hill's classically elegant $35 million biopic "Geronimo: An American Legend" (1993). The commercial failure of that project sent him back to more fully clothed character roles in the forgettable Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle "Street Fighter" (1994) and the high profile crime film "Heat" (1995). The latter project reunited him with "Last of the Mohicans" writer-director Mann and cast him as a L.A. cop aiding Al Pacino in his pursuit of professional thief Robert De Niro and his gang. Studi's distinctive bass voice can often be heard on TV documentaries about the Native American experience. He has also appeared in several historical TV-movies, series and miniseries.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Joined the American Indian Theater Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Made his stage debut in "Black Elk Speaks"
Made TV debut in a small role of the ABC TV-movie, "Longarm"
Made his feature acting debut in "Powwow Highway"
Did a guest shot on the superhero series "The Flash"
Had his first major film role as Magua in "The Last of the Mohicans"
Lent his voice to the "In the White Man's Image" episode of the PBS documentary series "The American Experience"
Appeared on HBO in "American Reunion: The People's Inaugural Celebration", reciting "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in English and Cherokee
Cast as One Horse, a regular on the short-lived CBS Western "Ned Blessing: The Story of My Life and Times"
Provided the voice of Crazy Horse for the syndicated Western documentary series, "The Wild West"
Starred as the title character in the biopic "Geronimo: An American Legend"
Made his TV miniseries debut in "Larry McMurtry's 'Streets of Laredo'", a sequel to "Lonesome Dove"
Appeared in "Deep Rising"
Starred alongside Adam Beach in the PBS "Mystery!" production "Skinwalkers", directed by Chris Eyre
Co-starred in the Steven Spielberg produced "Into the West" (TNT)
Was cast in the Terrence Malick-scripted drama "The New World," about explorer John Smith and the clash between Native Americans and English settlers
Joined the cast of "Comanche Moon," Larry McMurtry's prequel to his western saga "Lonesome Dove"
Returned to PBS's "American Experience" documentary in the multi-part episode "We Shall Remain"
Appeared in Seth MacFarlane farce "A Million Ways to Die in the West"
Had a recurring role on "Penny Dreadful"
Starred opposite Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike in Scott Cooper's western drama "Hostiles"