Exclusive interview with Eugene Brave Rock – Wonder Woman actor and Hell on Wheels stuntman
Few actors venture into the realms of both acting and stunt work as well Eugene Brave Rock. If you caught this year’s mega-hit Wonder Woman, you’ll remember him as Chief – the Blackfoot Native American Demi-God who helps Diana, alongside a ragtag group of soldiers.
If you were a Hell on Wheels fan then you’ve seen Eugene Brave Rock’s work stunt work light up the screen on numerous occasions. He even took on a small acting role in Season 5. From being a stunt driver in Tin Star to a stuntman in The Revenant, Eugene’s career is expansive and is ever on-the-rise.
We had a chat with Eugene about Wonder Woman, Hell on Wheels, his career to date and the projects that he has on the horizon.
Expect spoilers for Wonder Woman and Hell on Wheels below.
Christopher Hart: Let’s start with Wonder Woman – how much did you know about the Wonder Woman mythos prior to becoming involved in this project? Had you read any of the comics, or did you read any as preparation for the role?
Eugene Brave Rock: I knew Wonder Woman was played by Linda Carter on a TV show back in the day. I didn’t know much more than that. Growing up, all I read were Archie comic books.
CH: Your career is as focused on stunt work as it is on acting. Your first acting role was in 2007 and your first stunt role was in 2013, so would it be correct to say that acting was your first passion and your love of stunt work formed later? What was it that first attracted you to the world of stunts?
EBR: Acting was my first passion. Stunt work has always interested me and when I was presented the opportunity, I took it. Stunt work has definitely been a stepping stone and an amazing learning experience. Doing stunts is an extension of my acting and storytelling. I am very thankful that I am able to both.
CH: Not many actors/stuntmen walk in both worlds so frequently. What’s it like to juggle both professions? Would you like more instances where these two skills cross over (like they did for you in Hell on Wheels)?
EBR: It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to do both. I was crossing my fingers to get the Main Native role in Season 2 of Hell on Wheels. Unfortunately that did not happen. At the time it was very discouraging but now upon reflection it was a blessing. I ended up getting more stunt work which lead to more screen time. This experience has taught me to be content with what’s on the table and continue to take every opportunity presented to me.
CH: You’re part of a diverse and ragtag band of heroes in Wonder Woman. A group of characters from different backgrounds who all fight as one unified team. How well did you bond with your brothers-and-sisters-in-arms, during filming? Was there anyone in this group that you grew particularly close to?
EBR: I can say that [I] made lifelong friendships on that set, yes.
CH: Can you tell us a little about Gal Gadot? What’s she like to work with and do you have any between-takes stories that you can share with us?
EBR: Gal Gadot is an amazing, wonderful human being. I was very impressed with how down to earth she is. One of our first conversations was about language. She expressed to me the meaning of her name in her language and I expressed the meaning of mine. That was a special moment for me. It allowed us to be authentic and real.
CH: In one scene, your character expresses that he thinks Diana’s stories about Themyscira and Ares are true, while most of the group remain sceptical. What do you think makes The Chief so willing to accept the fantastical? Did you and Patty Jenkins ever discuss his backstory in any detail?
EBR: Yes Patty and I did discuss his backstory. Chief was willing to accept this story as we felt that Chief being a demigod was the only one who really knew who Diana was.
CH: The Chief makes it to the end of the film, so let’s talk about his future. We know there’s a sequel on its way. Naturally, this follow-up might jump to a different time period altogether, which means The Chief likely won’t return. Can you comment on this in any way?
EBR: NO COMMENT ….lol nice try
CH: Hell on Wheels was a fantastic show and I stuck with it right from its first episode to its very last. It really kept the Western genre alive on television, in a post-Deadwood world. You were a huge part of making this show, but would you say that you were a fan of it too?
EBR: Of course I was a fan. I looked forward to every episode as I wasn’t allowed to peek at the script. I was hanging on to every episode to figure out what was happening next.
CH: What is it about the Western genre, do you think, that keeps it alive and thriving, even in today’s era? Do you think it needs to strive to keep evolving, by small degrees, or that it should stay true to its core tropes and staples?
EBR: I think it’s the adventure that keeps it alive. Yes I think it would be great for it to evolve… to tell more truthful accounts with Native American and the real history of America.
CH: I was very fond of Lily Bell and I was dismayed when they killed her off. Did you ever work directly with Dominique McElligott and do you have any on-set stories to share?
EBR: We would have weekend BBQs and get togethers. She was super great to be around and always had an amazing smile on her face.
CH: Anson Mount is an acting force and he’s soon to return to our screens in Inhumans. What was Anson like to work with?
EBR: Anson Mount was amazing. He always gave me great advice. On and off screen. Anson Rocks!!!
CH: You were a stuntman on the show right from the pilot, but you didn’t act in the show until Season 5. Can you tell us how this acting part came about? Did you express an interest in this, or did the creators approach you?
EBR: After multiple stunt episodes, an acting role was offered to me. I’d like to think of the cast and crew of Hell on Wheels as family! [I am] so thankful for all the opportunities and experience that it gave me.
CH: Lastly, do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about? Be they acting or stunt work, or both. Is there any specific genre or franchise that you would love to get involved with?
EBR: I have nothing but gratitude with the footsteps I’ve taken to get me to where I’m at today. I have faith and believe it’s just going to get better and better. I look for forward to the next steps I take on the beautiful journey.
A huge thanks to Eugene for taking the time to chat with us.
Were you a fan of Hell on Wheels? Did you enjoy the character of the Chief in Wonder Woman? Let us know what your favourite Eugene Brave Rock role is in the comments section below.
Image credits: DC, Warner Bros