Actor Chaske Spencer examined the 1890s through the lens of the modern day - Albuquerque Journal

Actor Chaske Spencer examined the 1890s through the lens of the modern day

Chaske Spencer portrays Eli Whipp in the Amazon series, “The English.” (Diego Lopez Calvin/Drama Republic/BBC/Amazon Studios)

Over the course of his career, Chaske Spencer has always looked for roles that challenge him.

When the script for “The English” crossed his lap, he knew he wanted to be a part of it.

“This was a chance for a Native American to be a lead character,” Spencer says. “When I read the script, (creator) Hugo (Blick) made such a brilliant roadmap to this journey. With the turn of each page, I would get blown away by the dialog.”

“The English” follows aristocratic Englishwoman, Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt), and a Pawnee ex-cavalry scout, Eli Whipp (Spencer), as they come together in 1890 middle America to cross a violent landscape built on dreams and blood.

Both of them have a clear sense of their destiny, but neither is aware that it is rooted in a shared past. They must face increasingly terrifying obstacles that will test them to their limits, physically and psychologically. But as each obstacle is overcome, it draws them closer to their ultimate destination – the new town of Hoxem, Wyoming.

It is here, after an investigation by the local sheriff Robert Marshall (Stephen Rea) and young widow Martha Myers (Valerie Pachner) into a series of bizarre and macabre unsolved murders, that the full extent of their intertwined history will be truly understood, and they will come face-to-face with the future they must live.

Spencer says what attracted him to the role is Whipp’s past as the series would explore the plight of Native Americans.

“I like that Eli is a warrior type and very masculine. It’s a beast of a role. To me, I saw him as a modern-day biker, an ex-veteran. Someone who has seen war and been through tragedy,” Spencer says. “If Eli were alive today, he would be riding a Harley-Davidson with a big beard and tattoos, and he probably would have met Cornelia at a truck stop. When I was reading through this, my imagination was going with that, and I hope I can represent that in him, because I do see him as an ex-vet. He suffers from PTSD and loneliness, and throughout the story you see those walls start coming down – with both characters, Cornelia and Eli. That’s what I wanted to bring to Eli, to make him as human as possible. I had great help from Hugo and Emily with that process.”

Production took place in Spain for several months, yet the landscape was familiar to him.

From left, Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer on the set of “The English.” (Diego Lopez Calvin/Drama Republic/BBC/Amazon Studios)

“While filming ‘The English,’ I was very taken aback by the locations we were filming at,” Spencer says. “There were times I had to take a step back, and I actually thought I was in New Mexico or Wyoming. It felt like we’d lived in this landscape for 20, 30 years.”

Spencer has had roles in N.M.-based project, “Into the West,” “Longmire” and “Woman Walks Ahead.”

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

 

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