TRUE WOMEN (1997)
CBS-Hallmark Production mini-series
Directed by: Karen Arthur
Character’s Name: Tarantula
An epic saga about three generations of women in Texas who change the face of the American West in the 1800s, based on a true story.
Michael says, “‘True Women’ was a challenging film because my character, Tarantula, was so interesting. In the script it might have been easy to see Tarantula as a bad guy, one-dimensional. But I knew that there was more to him than that. Karen Arthur was the director and she really encouraged me to show those other sides of him. He didn’t have many lines, so I made them more interesting for me to say them by making him unable to speak English very well. Of course he was fluent in Comanche, his own language. Since I made it a real struggle for him to speak English, it made you really listen to understand him. I got a big compliment from Dana Delaney, the star of the film, who said, after doing our first scene together, ‘Wow, I really didn’t know what you were going to say next.’ As if I was making up the lines instead of reading them from the script everyone knows. That was nice of her to say. It was funny because I left that set to go back to ‘Rough Riders,’ then I came back a week later and the crew was imitating me in the way my character spoke. What’s the saying: ‘Imitation is the highest form of flattery’?!! I had a good laugh with that. But at the same time I learned an important lesson: often in Hollywood films, the dialogue given to Indians is rudimentary at best, childish or ignorant at worst—hardly the eloquent way they actually spoke. After this experience and the support Karen Arthur gave me, I decided never to remain trapped as an actor by the limitations of the dialogue, but to seek some way to make it more interesting, dynamic, and therefore, true to life.”