Gary Dale FarmerGary Farmer, actor, publisher, musician, filmmaker, activist (born at Ohsweken, Six Nations Reserve, Ont 12 June 1953). Gary Farmer grew up in Buffalo, NY, before studying at Syracuse University in New York and Ryerson in Toronto, where he developed a passion for photography and the performing arts.
A versatile character actor, Gary Farmer has worked in film, theatre, radio, and television production. He has taken the stage extensively in theatre, and was nominated for a DORA AWARD for best actor for his performance in Tomson HIGHWAY's Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing (1989). In film, he began with small parts in Police Academy (1984) and the made-for-television movie Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (1985). He was a regular on the CBC series The Rez (1996-98) as Chief Tom and had several guest appearances on shows such as Miami Vice, E.N.G. and The West Wing. In 1989 he had a breakout role in the American cult hit Powwow Highway as the affable, insightful Philbert Bono. The story of a journey of discovery made Gary Farmer a star in aboriginal circles, and he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for best supporting male.
Powwow Highway was followed by a starring role as the mentally challenged Henry in the Canadian low-budget feature Henry and Verlin (1994), for which Farmer received a GENIE Award nomination. In 1995 he co-starred with Johnny Depp as the Indian mystic "Nobody" in Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, for which he was nominated again at the Independent Spirit Awards for best supporting male, and won the best actor award in 1997 from the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco. Smoke Signals (1998), billed as the first full-length feature film produced, written, directed and starring American Indians (the cast also included Canadian First Nations actors Tantoo CARDINAL and Adam BEACH), brought Farmer a third Independent Spirit Award nomination. In 2001, he appeared as Robert DeNiro's henchman in the heist drama The Score, which was shot in Montréal and featured the last screen performance by the legendary Marlon Brando.
Farmer's other Canadian film and television appearances include John GREYSON's Lilies (1996), Heater (1999), Deepa MEHTA's The Republic of Love (2004), Twist (2004; a second Genie nomination), 3 Needles (2006), and the made-for-television movie One Dead Indian (2006; GEMINI Award for best supporting actor), the series Moose TV (2007) and Jacob Tierney's Good Neighbours (2011).
A tireless promoter of aboriginal culture, Gary Farmer launched the magazine Aboriginal Voices in the early 1990s. In 1998, concerned about the decline in First Nations language usage, he helped launch the Aboriginal Voices Radio Network, along with playwright Tomson Highway, filmmaker Alanis OBOMSAWIN and actor Jennifer Podemski. Intended to create FM radio stations on reserves across North America, it first went on air in 2002 from Toronto.
Multi-talented, he has also directed films, three of which - The Hero (1995), The Gift (1999), and What the Eagle Hears (2000) - were screened at the Sundance Film Festival. He was also the executive producer of Buffalo Tracks, the first aboriginal variety television show on the Aboriginal People's Television Network.