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Playing Red Wind no breeze for Native performer

Lindsay Cote portrays Red Wind on the set of That Beautiful Somewhere. The Canadian film is being shot this month in Temagami and North Bay. Photo by Abby Cote, Special to

Lindsay Cote portrays Red Wind on the set of That Beautiful Somewhere. The Canadian film is being shot this month in Temagami and North Bay. Photo by Abby Cote, Special to

Lindsay Cote says he had some explaining to do recently to guests at the Travelodge Hotel.

The 44-year-old performer/composer/writer had been cast as Native warrior Red Wind in That Beautiful Somewhere, the Canadian film being shot in North Bay and Temagami, and starring Jane McGregor, Roy Dupuis and Gordon Tootoosis.

We're rehearsing
Cote’s role calls for him to almost drown his movie daughter, played by his real life daughter. So he decided a little rehearsing at a hotel swimming pool would be appropriate.

“We went into the water at the Best Western,” Cote said.

“We had to explain to others ‘no I’m not drowning my daughter, we’re rehearsing for a film role.’”

The scene was filmed in Temagami last week, and the experience brought Cote full circle, he said.

Regular guy
He was born in that Northern community and spent two years as chief of the Teme-Augama Anishnabai band on Bear Island.

Theatre and performing was always in his blood though, he said.

And when he was voted out as chief he was able to pursue those goals.

“I was happy to be a regular guy again and was able to focus on everything else, on the fun stuff,” Cote said.

Full treatment
He worked in local theatre both on the island and in North Bay.

At one point he was hired as a Wabiken Lodge dancer in Sir Richard Attenborough’s 1999 film Grey Owl, even teaching star Pierce Brosnan how to dance.

"Attenborough was just great to work with," Cote said, "and he went around getting to know every one, right down to the extras."

Cote continued in the Grey Owl vein composing the music for the Nipissing Stage Company’s version of Indian Heart.

“I’ve pretty much given Grey Owl the full treatment,” Cote laughs.

All the emotion
That Beautiful Somewhere became his next major project.

Nipissing University English professor Bill Plumstead had written the novel the screenplay is based on, and Cote participated in one of the first readings of this script.

About a year later he was called to audition for the part of Red Wind.

“They were looking for a person who could ride a horse and do a fight scene,” Cote said.

“I went into character really fast at the audition and pulled out all the emotion.”

Our own creativity
Cote was cast, as was his daughter.

“I’m so happy to be working with her and so proud of the job she’s done,” Cote said.

He’s also pleased to be working with That Beautiful Somewhere director Rob Budreau.

“He gives us our cues but basically lets us have our own creativity when we’re doing our scene, and lets us give it a vision of what we want,” Cote said.

“He’ll tell us if we need to give more emotion, or settle it down a bit. He’s a good director. He doesn’t push, that’s why I don’t mind him working with my daughter.”

Budreau returns the compliment.

“It’s been a pleasure working with a local actor like Lindsey Cote,” Budreau said.

“Additionally his knowledge of Aboriginal customs and folklore has been a real asset to our production.”

The role of Red Wind contains no dialogue, but is physically demanding, Cote said.

It was filmed at a pond not far from the Temagami fire tower, and required Cote to wade into the frigid water up to his waist.

He also has to plunge his daughter into the water.

“I’m supposed to almost drown her so it was challenging,” Cote said.

“I mentally prepared myself for it and had to visualize myself drowning my little girl.”

Cote was also told to buff up his upper body for a love scene.

“But we ended up with a fully clothed kiss, so someone got cold feet on that one,” Cote said.

Remarkable story
Once Cote finishes shooting, he’ll be plunging himself fully into his pet project, writing a screenplay about the life of Tommy Prince, Canada’s most decorated Aboriginal war veteran.

“It's a remarkable story that’s never been told on film before,” Cote said, “and I want to be the one to tell it.”