Earlier this week, Tom Hanks spoke to ET Canada about his upcoming film “News of the World.” According to Hanks, though the film takes place in the typical setting for a western film, it is much different than other films in the genre.
The film is more focused on character development and interaction than gunplay and saloon fights. In fact, the film only has one gunfight, according to Hanks. This film pays attention to one detail that many other westerns tend to look over. That detail is the authenticity of the Native Americans in the film.
Tom Hanks on Indigenous Representation in “News of the World”
The Kiowa tribe plays a major role in the events leading up to “News of the World.” One of the leads is a young girl who spent four years as a captive of the tribe. In the interview, Tom Hanks talks about the day that they filmed with the Kiowa nation. He explains that members of the tribe were “more-or-less in the background of a very important sequence. And they were representative of something they had actually gone through.”
Tom Hanks went on to talk about the importance of working with the Kiowa nation for the film. “We didn’t have Native Americans playing generic Native Americans. We had the Kiowa Nation playing the Kiowa Nation. It was important to us and I think it had weight to them that they were part of the process.”
This attention to detail sets “News of the World” apart from other westerns almost as much as the lack of gunplay. Tom Hanks mentions not having “Native Americans playing generic Native Americans” in the upcoming film. Until recent years, that has been the best-case scenario as far as Indigenous representation in westerns goes. In the early days of film, most Native Americans were played by Italian-American actors with bronzer on their exposed skin. In fact, one of the most famous “Native Americans” in television or film history, Iron Eyes Cody, was actually Italian.