Q'Orianka Kilcher, now 15, was 14 when she was cast as Pocahontas opposite Colin Farrell (as Captain John Smith) and Christian Bale (as John Rolfe) in Terrence Malick's The New World. Q'Orianka has about as many cultural connections as she does years of life. She was born in Germany, has Quechua/Huachipaeri Indian and Alaskan/Swiss heritage, grew up in Hawaii, and now lives in Los Angeles with her mother and two brothers. She began singing, dancing, and acting at age six, winning countless awards and landing her first film role as a choir member in Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
We recently caught up with Q'Orianka to ask about her role as Pocahontas.
What drew you to the character of Pocahontas?
I didn't know much about her when I signed on with the movie. But they gave me several books to read, and I'm still doing research on her life. As I learned about her story, I was drawn to her courage and her willingness to dream of two very different worlds coming together, coexisting and collaborating in peace. In a way, her son [with John Rolfe] was a symbol of peace because he was the first interracial child and he was the coming together of the two worlds.
How concerned were you with the portrayal of Native Americans in The New World?
That was the most important thing to me. Portraying Pocahontas' story well was important to me because she was a real person and these were real events in her life. I think Terrence did a good job of showing the hard birth of America at the death, almost, of a culture. The culture still exists in the Native Americans who remain, but it really began to take a hard beating the day the English arrived in the New World. If Pocahontas had been given the foresight to see what devastating consequences ...1