Exclusive: Amber Midthunder on the Making of Centurion: The Dancing Stallion

Apr 24, 2023

Just hearing director Dana Gonzales (Handmaid’s Tale, Fargo) talk about his new movie, Centurion: The Dancing Stallion, is enough to raise your emotional barometer. “I think any film that deals with a healthy family life, triumph, and young love is important,” Gonzales told MovieWeb. “It’s like Titanic. All I could think about in Titanic is the love story. I don’t think about the horror that ship sinking, so I feel like anytime you can have those elements in a movie and come out at the end feeling positive about family and relationships, that’s a win.”

Indeed, it is. The buzz has steadily been building around Centurion: The Dancing Stallion, a heartwarming film, which is based on real-life events, reunites Gonzales with Amber Midthunder (Prey, Roswell, New Mexico), who worked together on the hit series Legion. “I think today, more than ever, people need that and need to know family and relationships are right there,” Gonzales added. “I think this movie does a good job of showing that.”
Midthunder stars alongside Billy Zane (Titanic) in a story written by Boon Collins. Here we find Ellissia (Midthunder) adopting a stellar white stallion to train in the art of Mexican horse dancing. Centurion is majestic, but he’s previously been abused. That’s plenty to digest for the young lady, but when Ellissia becomes critically ill, she cannot compete in the equestrian event. Her father (Zane) oversees ranch hand Danny (Aramis Knight), who steps in as trainer hoping to win the competition. And maybe Ellissia’s heart, too. Amber Midthunder shared more about the movie with MovieWeb.

Understanding the Value of Horses

MovieWeb: Congratulations on the film. Let’s dive in. Can you share more about your own experiences with horses?

Amber Midthunder: I grew up with horses. The first time I ever rode a horse, I was four years old, and they’ve just always been a part of my life. I also come from horse-riding people. So, you know, since horses were introduced to the Americas, that has also been a part of my culture. It’s definitely a huge part of my life.

Amber Midthunder: I moved to L.A. quite a while ago, and horses are not as common. They’re not just in my backyard. So, getting to reconnect with that in this film was really nice, and at the same time, it was totally different in the way I had ever experienced horses. I’d never been on a dancing horse. I don’t even know if I could tell you that it existed before this. Getting to see these specific types of horses in this way was definitely very new to me.

Related: Amber Midthunder: Why the Prey Actor is About to Get Huge

MW: Can you share more about the importance of horses in your culture, and Mexico, in general? There’s a great part in the film that truly speaks to that. Why is there such reverence for horses in Mexican culture?

Amber Midthunder: The thing that makes the movie so special is [producer] Nancy Gamble’s relationship with the real Centurion — that’s a real story. That alone is something. It’s amazing that Centurion is in the movie, and how, in real life, the way he and Nancy experienced this. Their kind of journey, I think, is what everybody who has grown up with horses, may experience. If you’ve ever interacted with horses, they’re just special creatures. That’s what makes this movie about a horse so unique.

MW: What kind of training did you experience on set?

Amber Midthunder: I learned a lot of physical cues and how to interact with horses. Moving your feet in certain ways. If you think learning how to drive a car was really difficult, this is just a whole other level of challenge. But it was really cool to learn, and just as amazing to see the horse respond.

Related: 15 Best Movies for Family Movie Night

Amber Midthunder on Nabbing the Role


MW: What really excited you about the project initially, and why did you want to be a part of it?

Amber Midthunder: It was really working with Dana. I’ve known Dana for so long, we’ve worked together before, and I just trust his creatively so much. I’ve never seen somebody who’s so game for the art. I love that.

MW: Did Dana reach out to you?

Amber Midthunder: I was in Australia, and Dana called me at maybe 2 a.m., and he told me about it, and I was like, “Yeah, for sure.” It was just an incredible story that had these true elements to it. I trusted the hands that it would be in it. The entire team was great. I would follow them anywhere.

MW: Why is this the perfect time for this film to be experienced?

Amber Midthunder: There are so many elements of the movie. There’s a story of a young female who’s trying to have this incredible relationship with a horse, then goes through this intense illness. This is truly a story of triumph, and, I think, finding that strength within yourself to overcome tragedy. The film is also about finding an incredible support system. There are so many memorable elements in it and really evokes a rare warm, lovely feeling.

Centurion: The Dancing Stallion, from Lionsgate, arrives on Digital and On Demand April 25.

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