Amid a parade of A-listers, one of the most memorable visitors to the Deadline studio was Brady Jandreau, who stars in Chloé Zhao’s hybrid docu-drama The Rider, in which a professional rodeo rider finds his life thrown into disarray after a life-threatening accident. The film came about after Zhao began researching life in Jandreau’s homeland.
“Chloé filmed her first movie, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, at a ranch in South Dakota on the Pine Ridge reservation,” said Jandreau, “and I actually worked at this ranch. So she met me there, and she was researching cowboy lifestyle because she wanted to make a movie about the heartland of America, about the cowboy life, and rodeo life, and Native Americans as well. While she was researching ranch lifestyle she met me there, and I taught her how to ride horses, and as she got to know me, she decided that she was going to put me in her next movie—but we just didn’t really have a story. And then after my head injury, there was your story, so to speak.”
Taking off his cowboy hat, Jandreau revealed that he still bore the scars from that injury, which can be seen in the film’s haunting opening images. “I come off the horse and my foot hung in the stirrup,” he explained. “So it held me there, and I went underneath the horse and he stepped right on the side of my head. Luckily I’d come out of the stirrup, or else another step and I would have been dead.” The gash, he said, was three-and-a-quarter inches long and an inch and a quarter deep. “There was, like, horse manure and sand and stuff all in my brain…They rushed me to a hospital there, and luckily, there was a brain surgeon that was on staff and he’d just got done with surgery. So I was awful lucky to live.”
Aside from an obviously upsetting recreation of the accident itself, the amazingly perky Jandreau is perfectly happy with Zhao’s film, which portrays him and his family as fictional versions of their real selves. “It was pretty enjoyable to watch,” he said. “For the most part, I really like the way that she put it together.”
Brady has more to say about the film in the video above.
Deadline Studio at TIFF 2017 is presented by Calii Love, Watford Group, Philosophy Canada, and Equinox. Special thanks to Dan Gunam at Calii Love for location and production assistance; and Ontario Camera for equipment assistance. Video producer: Meaghan Gable; lighting and camera: Neil Hansen; design: Dialla Kawar; sound recording: Ida Jokinen.