Actor discusses on what is was like to work with real wolves, how he found the project, and his breakout role in Gladiator.
By Jacob Engels
How did you first hear about Druid Peak and what intrigued you the most about the script?
A friend of mine was one of the producers for Druid Peak and he was the one who first introduced me to Marni’s script. I was completely taken with it. At the time, I knew very little about wolf reintroduction, but I was so excited about the prospect of playing Owen and I was dying to shoot in Wyoming. I met with Marni, and she was quickly able to impart her enthusiasm and vision. I signed on shortly thereafter.
What was it like working with wolves and shooting a film in such beautiful locations?
To some degree, I expected the trained wolves to be a bit like domestic dogs but I couldn’t have been more wrong. They were definitely wild animals and, for the most part, they wanted nothing to do with you. It was incredible to see wolves up close, and even more so to see them interact with each other. They have such an inherent beauty and intelligence. You don’t need to understand them to appreciate them or to recognize their importance.
One of the scenes with the wolves we shot on open range and while we had an area fenced for the wolves, at one point a herd of cattle emerged from the trees. Fortunately the wolves were caged at the time, but after hours of disinterest, suddenly they became very animated.
I went to a month of summer camp in Jackson just before high school and I fell in love with the area. It was such a valuable experience for me personally and one that has fueled an ongoing love for the outdoors. It was also a connection I was able to draw on readily to better understand my character in the film.
Spencer Treat Clark alongside co-star Andrew Wilson. They play father and son in Druid Peak.
Did you have a different opinion of wolves and the relocation process after completing Druid Peak?
I knew very little about wolf relocation before Druid Peak. Obviously I learned quite a bit during the lead up to filming, but while we were staying in Wyoming it was an issue that was impossible to ignore. In no way did we have to exaggerate the importance of this issue to the area and to many areas like it. It was constantly on the front page of the local papers and it often came up in conversation. It is a subject that elicits a great deal of passion from both sides and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to help bring it to new eyes.
I first recognized you in your role in Gladiator with Russell Crowe. what was the most memorable moment for you while making that film?
I was pretty little when Gladiator was made, but even then I could recognize how much time, money, and effort went into making that film. Gladiator was made right at the beginning of when CGI became truly hard to distinguish from live action, but before CGI became so easy and cost effective to implement. I have a hard time believing that even a small fraction of the sets they built for Gladiator would be built if they filmed that same movie today. There’s something to be said about actually filming in a replica of the Coliseum rather than in a studio in front of a green screen. I’m still so grateful for that experience and its not lost on me how cool it is to have had even a small part in that film getting made.
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org