Twilight actor speaks

Yalies caught a glimpse of a werewolf in Ezra Stiles on Tuesday.

A predominantly female audience of 40 joined “New Moon” actor Chaske Spencer, 34, for a Stiles Master’s Tea co-sponsored by the Native American Cultural Center and the Native American Student Association. Spencer, who plays Sam Uley, the leader of a pack of Native American werewolves in this month’s box office smash — the second installment of the popular “Twilight” series — said he viewed the “Twilight” films as a means to an end.

“New Moon” actor Chaske Spencer spoke about his acting experiences and hopes at an Ezra Stiles Master’s Tea.
Erica Cooper
“New Moon” actor Chaske Spencer spoke about his acting experiences and hopes at an Ezra Stiles Master’s Tea.

“[‘Twilight’] put me on the map. Now I can do what I want,” he said. “This opportunity gives me so much more control over my career.”

Still, “Twilight” will remain a part of Spencer’s future. Specifically, the actor, who started production of the “New Moon” at 165 pounds and now weighs in at 190, said he will have to add an additional 20 pounds of muscle for the next installment of the series. The actor learned a great “prison workout” from fellow gym-goers who are on parole, he said.

“I’m looking forward to it — I really want mass,” Spencer said to laughter from the room.

Members of the movie’s wolf pack bonded over intense workouts, led by the trainer on 2007 blockbuster “300,” Spencer said. These sessions also helped get the actor into character. But don’t expect to see “Twilight” heartthrob Rob Pattinson at the gym with the pack.

“The vampires aren’t going to the gym,” Spencer said to high-pitched giggles.

Spencer, himself a member of the Lakota Sioux tribe, said Hollywood tends to place Native Americans actors in stereotypical roles. As an actor, he said he has turned down roles and lost jobs because he did not want to play to this stereotype. Though the role of Sam Uley is specifically Native American, Spencer said his success following the blockbuster will in fact enable him to step outside this denomination and into roles that are not made for Native American actors.

In this regard, Spencer said he looks up to fellow actor Denzel Washington.

“I’m not comparing myself to Denzel,” he said. “But he’s taken roles not specifically designed for African Americans.”

Spencer is using his newfound fame to take on roles that he describes as “intelligent.” Next up is a film called “The Block,” in which he will play a struggling author who finds that the only way to escape his writer’s block is through murder. Spencer said he was attracted to the film’s intelligence and dark humor.

Spencer is also working on a full-length documentary with his production company, Urban Dream, that will address water rights on Indian reservations. Spencer said he hopes that the project will bring attention to an issue that is close to his heart. The actor works with the aid organization United Global Shift on this issue. He said that he wants to bring bottling plants to reservations, providing people with both jobs and clean water.

“It’s your god-given right to have water,” he said.

Students joined the toned actor at the front of the room for photos after the Tea, which three students interviewed said they enjoyed.

While waiting his turn, Sam Gardenswartz ’13 said, “I think it was interesting that he’s looking to the future, not only about himself but with the mindset that ‘now that I’m in Twilight,’ I can help other people.”

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