Director Chloé Zhao & star Brady Jandreau on ‘The Rider’

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The new film ‘The Rider’ follows horse trainer and one-time rising rodeo star Brady Blackburn, as he grapples with the aftermath of a harrowing riding accident.

Brady Blackburn is played by 22-year-old Brady Jandreau, who like his character, lives on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and grew up training horses and competing in rodeos. Two years ago, he suffered the same devastating head injury seen in the film.

Kim Masters recently spoke to Jandreau and to the film’s writer and director, Chloé Zhao. ‘The Rider’ is Zhao’s second movie. She’s made both of her films on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, but her personal story begins far away from the American plains. Zhao grew up in China, went to boarding school in England, and then New York for college. She was drawn west after seeing several stories about Pine Ridge in the news. The rest, is indie film history.

Zhao and Jandreau talk about first meeting--Zhao knew right away she wanted to put him in her next project, but she wasn’t sure what that would be. Then, a bronco shattered Jandreau’s skull, putting his competitive rodeo days behind him. At that point, Zhao knew she had her story. Zhao also cast Jandreau’s his real father and autistic sister to play his family in the film.

Jandreau and Zhao tell us about making the film with a tiny amount of money, and the schedule they worked out that allowed Jandreau to train horses in the morning and film in the afternoons. Plus, Zhao tells us why many cowboys make good actors.

'The Rider' is in theaters now.




Kaitlin Parker