In part 3 of an ongoing series by Vanity Fair of interviews with the New Moon wolf pack, Chaske Spencer (Sam Uley) chats about winning the part of Sam, filming New Moon, dealing with his new-found fame and the kinds of music he listens to.
VF.com: How did you get the part of Wolf Pack leader, Sam Uley?
Chaske Spencer: It was one of the weirdest auditions I’ve done. We put it on tape, and usually the process is: you meet the casting director, get a callback, then you meet the producer and director. This just went straight from tape. I auditioned for all of the parts of the Wolf Pack; they called me back and told me what part I had. Also, I didn’t really know who [the character] was because I didn’t know much about Twilight. Then I figured it out and said, “Wow, that’s a really good part.” It’s amazing. I’ve never gotten a part like that before.
Once you got the part, did you go back and read the books?
Yeah, I started with New Moon. Then I started dabbling in Eclipse because there’s a lot of back-story to my character. I really tried to relate to those characters, do my job … and then go to the gym.
How much time did you have between finding out you got the role and actually starting shooting?
Not much—about three weeks. They got us a trainer and really started throwing us into the work, into working out, which was with a gentleman who helped out on 300. I was pretty psyched about that; it was really tough. I was [already] in shape, but when he got his hands on me, it was a whole different beast altogether. I put on 25 pounds in those two months. It just happened—one day, I stepped out of the shower, took a look at myself, and I didn’t recognize my own body.
You all went through this together as a pack, too.
Yeah, that was the one thing that was really cool; it did bond us. We’re unknowns, and we couldn’t tell anyone for a month that we were cast. So we just talked to each other, made sure we kept each other in check, got competitive with one another. It was like [we were] brothers. I gained so many family members through this, which I’m really grateful for.
So you were this unknown actor living in New York who suddenly found himself on the set of this huge studio blockbuster. What was that like?
It’s so surreal, I mean, I’m feeling it right now! On the film sets of New Moon and Eclipse, I feel safe. It’s like you’re in the center of the hurricane, but outside is where it starts to get chaotic. I would say that, in the last few days, I started noticing that I’m in this huge franchise. I’m going to be in one of the biggest movies of the year, and it’s a little surreal, frightening, and exciting all together. It’s like one big roller-coaster ride.
What are you doing to prepare for it?
No one can give you a book on how to deal with it. There’s not much you can do about it except for just having a good head on your shoulders. You have to go on your own and figure it out.
Like many of the other wolves, you have your own Twitter page, too.
It’s really cool. It’s like being in this rock band. It’s nothing like I’ve ever done before on any film or play—you really interact with the fans. I Twitter for the Twilight fans. I can write where I’m going, what I’m doing—I try to keep it general so I don’t give too much away—and the fans are great! They’re really excited about it; some even know more about me than I do myself!
Speaking of rock bands, Kiowa [Gordon] said you got him listening to Phoenix and Grizzly Bear.
Kiowa and Tyson Houseman are really into music, and we talk about that. I’m really into discovering new music. I’m a drummer, and I live with a musician—he’s in a band called The 5 O’Clock Heroes. I’m not just plugging him because he’s my roommate; his band is really good. He introduces me to all of the cool new bands, and we’ve had musicians coming over to our apartment for a while now. I like this new cat, Liam Finn, who I heard about in Australia. I also just got the New Moon soundtrack, and I’m really impressed! I think it’s amazing. I’ve been listening to it all day actually. I like Band of Skulls, and I’ve been a fan of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club for years now. This is going to be my album for the month.
What did the wolves listen to during workouts?
I brought my iPod in, and I had tracks that would help us get through the workout. We played the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” Metallica’s “Orion,” ACDC—that really pumped us up—some Guns N’ Roses, Soundgarden, Nirvana. I like to workout to a lot of hip-hop, too.
You’re the oldest wolf in the pack.
Yeah, and it’s funny: I play the alpha wolf, the leader, and I kind of fell into that role. I don’t know how that happens. But I am the oldest—I had a few films under my belt—and I kind of helped some of the other guys. I’m very protective of them. If anyone tried to hurt them, I’d probably go ballistic. They’re good guys. We take care of one another. It was like freshman coming into high school; we were the new group. We all come from different backgrounds, too. We’re Native Americans and we have a different outlook on things. We didn’t come to mess around; we came with our A-game, and we definitely made sure our presence was known.
What is your Native American background?
I’m Lakota Sioux. What’s cool is that Stephenie [Meyer]’s written this amazing story that is more contemporary Native American. It’s not like I was wearing leather and feathers, which I’ve been used to doing. I didn’t have to go too much into my own background.
You said in your Twitter feed: “I love being a wolf!”
[Laughs] I like my role. When I was a kid, I was into the Anne Rice novels, but I never got to discover werewolves until this. What I like is that it’s given me a new body, actually. The workouts and all of that stuff—who doesn’t want to be a werewolf? (It’s tongue-in-cheek when I say stuff like that.)
When this is all over, what kind of movies do you want to make?
I just look at the kind of actors I really like; I like Gene Hackman. The actors I admire are character actors. I just want to do really good work. I mean, this is huge. I really don’t know what I can do after this! Go the independent route maybe.
Let’s do some wordplay. Please give one word to describe each of the actors you work with in New Moon, starting with Alex Meraz [“Paul”].
Bronson Pelletier [“Jared”].
Kristen Stewart [“Bella Swan”].
Gil Birmingham [“Billy Black”].
Tyson Houseman [“Quil Ateara”].
Kiowa Gordon [“Embry Call”].
Taylor Lautner [“Jacob Black”].