5th September 2022
Editor-in-chief: Owen James Vincent
Interview: Jordan Arthur
Photography: Riley Smith
ReVamp is thrilled to welcome Joshua Odjick and Phillip Lewitski, stars of the amazing film Wildhood. Editor Owen and myself were lucky enough to see this gorgeous feature about love, identity, and community from director Bretten Hannam at a screening in our hometown early this year, and it’s with great pleasure we speak to its incredibly talented stars in this interview.
Phillip Lewitski (left/top) & Joshua Odjick (right/below)
REVAMP: Wildhood could be described as part road movie, part coming-of-age, part buddy, part romance. What was it that drew you to the film, and what elements are you most keen for audiences to see?
JOSHUA: I was drawn to Wildhood after reading the whole script at my friends' apartment and found myself mesmerized with the writing. The story was definitely a beautiful piece of art that I felt privileged to be a part of, not to mention how impactful it would be to represent the two-spirit community.
I'm keen for audiences worldwide to see that two-spirit representation is so important to have in media and film.
REVAMP: Phillip, your character Link is clearly someone wrestling with various fragments of his identity. What sort of challenge does that present as an actor, when trying to inhabit a character who is so unsure of themselves?
PHILLIP: I guess the process of telling a story so close to [director] Bretten’s heart made me feel unsure about myself right off the bat. I also spent a lot of my teenage years with a mind full of questions and not a lot of answers. In that regard I felt instantly connected to what Link was going through in those moments.
REVAMP: When Link and Joshua’s character, Pasmay, meet at that gas station early in the movie, there’s a sort of magnetism pulling them together. What do you think they both saw in that first moment?
JOSHUA: I believe Pasmay felt an instant attraction to Link, but also had an intuition that Link and Travis wouldn't last long without his help and was compelled to ‘come to the rescue, so to speak.
PHILLIP: It was a combination of things. Link was jealous of everything Pasmay had – freedom, identity - because it happened to be all the things Link yearned for. Link, being the angry dog backed into a corner, couldn’t see at first how they could work together to fulfil their own goals and aspirations.
That’s the beautiful thing about their journey together, as they become more vulnerable and open, Links walls start to come down to a place he’s never seen before.
REVAMP: Director Bretten Hannam described Wildhood as a “story ripped from my youth” – with elements of his experience woven into both Link and Pasmay. What’s it like working on a film where for so many people the story is so personal?
PHILIP: It was extremely intimidating for the sheer reason that I wanted to bring honor to Bretten’s story. All those pressures were quickly alleviated the second we started working together. It was a collaborative partnership I’ve never experienced before. The amount of support and trust I felt with not only Bretten but the entire cast and crew was heartwarming. I felt like everyone there was a pillar for each other and that we were all so driven to this common goal of telling a story that was for over a decade wanting to be birthed.
REVAMP: We mentioned your character, Joshua, is described as two-spirit - how did this important part of Pasmay’s identity influence your portrayal? Was there an element of pressure to get it right, as representation has historically been lacking in film?
JOSHUA: Humanity is Universal and that's how I approach all characters. My goal was not to 'other' Pasmay because he is two-spirit but simply to know that it was a part of him and to respect that in his portrayal. I didn't feel pressure to 'get it right' because I trusted in Bretten's process completely.
REVAMP: Our introduction to Link is quite brutal. He’s abused in more ways I think than are immediately obvious. Yet one of the most heart-warming things in the film (in a crowded field) is his instinct to protect his younger brother and his sense of family. How would you describe Link and Travis’ relationship, and how did you approach its portrayal?
PHILIP: I grew up the second oldest of seven siblings. I often use my relationships with my brothers and sisters in the work. It’s kind of cool because I always have at least one that I can pull from to help tell a story. I have a very similar relationship with my younger brother that Link has with Travis. As soon as I started working with Avery Winters Anthony it felt like we had grown up together. It was quite magical and made the bond very fluid.
REVAMP: Meanwhile when we meet Pasmay, his sense of family is somewhat in crisis. if we saw a little into the future, past the credits, what would a happy ending look like for him?
JOSHUA: A happy ending for Pasmay I think has already happened, finding someone who loves and accepts him. In fact, he found a whole new family on his journey. He may end up teaching Link the Mik'maq language and how to dance in PowWow's as they travel around together!
REVAMP: Speaking of, how are your skills holding up since shooting?
JOSHUA: I did not know how to do any PowWow dances before but learned how to Fancy Dance for the film. I worked with an amazing instructor by the name of Eric Mentuck in preparation.
My dancing abilities are much better now since I knew nothing before! I practice whenever I hear PowWow music on my Air Pods in the gym… And I danced at my first actual PowWow this past Summer in the Miq'maq community - it felt like everything came full circle.
REVAMP: Early in the movie when Link torches his dad’s truck, there’s a moment where he and Travis watch it go up in flames and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for them to have their ‘cool guys don’t look at explosions’ moment. To what extent do you feel robbed that you didn’t get that, and does this only make you want to blow up more things?
PHILLIP: At that point in Link’s journey, he loved wreaking havoc and being at the helm of it all. That’s why he didn’t look away, I don’t know if it was the power or the shock that kept his eyes on that fire but nonetheless it was a fun thing to watch. Gotta say, I prefer watching the action then walking away from it!
REVAMP: Finally, the film includes more than one scene of frolicking in the sea – looking at the production dates it seems like you were shooting in late summer, so I’m hoping not too cold?...
JOSHUA: No, it wasn't cold... It was FREEZING!
Wildhood is out now to rent or buy on VOD and is in select cinemas across the UK right now.