And this is very evident in the final product, or at least what I’ve been able to see so far. Your character, Terry Thomas, is very different from some of the roles you have taken on in the past.
I love Terry Thomas. I mean, I never got the chance to play a guy like this and I get some good roles. I fight for them, no one offers them to me. But with this one I was tripping over myself to walk into this room and win it because our communities have never seen a person with that kind of power and that kind of charm and that kind of intelligence on TV. .
How did you mentally prepare yourself for Terry compared to Makwa, a very dark character, from “Wild Indian”?
I will say that they are in fact similar. Okay, so let me explain. First of all, they are both successful men. On the one hand, Terry’s success is based on the love of family and his ambition. While with Makwa, his success and ambition are rooted in something else. He hides his pain from himself and everyone around him.
So they look like the same guy. Yeah, they’re in great costumes and they’re powerful but they’re so tragically different. I love playing characters who have power and although Makwa’s empowerment comes from rage and pain, he is still a powerful person. I reject the indigenous peoples’ trope as powerless or as victims. I think it’s important for an actor in my position to make sure that the people I play match up with those who raised me and the people in our communities who raised us. Then, when our young people watch these shows, they can be inspired by seeing their real selves and not ghosts of themselves.
What do you hope the audience will get by watching “Rutherford Falls”?
I am very, very hopeful that when world audiences watch the show, we will be seen as contemporary citizens. They’ll be like, “Oh, these are my neighbors. They are my colleagues. These are people who are not separate from me. They are integrated into the fabric of my city, my city, my community. “
I think this is an extremely important thing that “Rutherford Falls” can express. I also hope there is a new sophistication in the types of stories we tell. As you know, Indigenous stories are very complex and nuanced. We often get a kind of binary narrative that says “it’s good and it’s bad”. I think the characters in our show are beautifully human. I think that’s a hallmark of Mike Schur’s comedies and universes. We remember these characters, we remember these people.
“Rutherford Falls” will be available on Peacock from April 22.