Martin Sensmeier is becoming a recognizable face in Hollywood, and his role in The Magnificent Seven has really helped to make him a household name. The actor played Red Harvest in the film and did an incredible job in the role.
Sensmeier took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with ComicBook.com about his time on set with Denzel Washington, his new movie Wind River, and his desire to give back to the kids who remind him of his youth.
ComicBook.com: First, we asked Martin about his experience on the set of The Magnificent Seven.
Martin Sensmeier: Well, it was five months long, so it was really long but it also went by really quick too, you know?
I would say overall, obviously is a great, great learning experience working with them guys, all the experience they got. I mean, it was awesome. Overall it was awesome. I've nothing bad to say about it at all. I learned so much and it's given me wings, man.
You were going there toe-to-toe with a guy like Denzel Washington. What was that experience like?
I mean, you know, it's Denzel. It was amazing. Denzel really took me under his wing when we worked together, and that made it cool because I didn't feel like I ... Obviously, it's Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Vincent. All them guys, when you see them on set, you're like, 'Holy shit, they are who they are,' but when you're acting, when you get in character and the cameras start rolling, all of that stuff fades away and then you're communicating with another person. A lot came like that. It was great. I really, really had a good time. Leading up to those scenes, there was a little bit of nervousness there, naturally.
Once we started getting into the teamwork though, I felt great. I was excited. I felt like I was ready for it. What you see is what you get.
Tell me a little bit about how you got that role. So you're going with these guys who have these long histories in Hollywood, and you're still fairly new. I'm sure it was awesome to get pulled in with those guys. What was that experience like?
Oh man, when my manager called me about this wonderful opportunity, he was like, 'Hey this is ... I'm searching breakdowns, I saw this role, the lead role in a Denzel, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke.' I laughed, I was like, 'Right on.'
Martin: He goes, 'We're going to submit you and see if we hear anything back,' and I was like, 'Cool.' He's like, "Yeah, so you got an audition for this movie," I was like, "Oh, right on." Like any other audition, I was just like, 'Cool,' you know. Obviously with those names I didn't even ... I've been through so many auditions for big and small stuff that when I got that, I know better to get my hopes up for anything like that. I was like, 'Cool.'
I went to audition and then be the best that I can, and that's what I did, and like every other audition, I walked out of there and I forgot about it. I'm like, 'Okay, well I'm not going to put any hope into this thing because that's pointless.' I've done that before and you get let down, so I just walked out of there and I forgot about it basically. About a month went by before I got a call back, and I had actually went to Alaska. I was planning a trip to Alaska, I was going to spend about three weeks up there-
You're from there, correct?
Yeah. I was going to go up there. I went up there to visit family, and two days after I got there, I got a call from my manager, he said, 'You have a call back audition and meeting with the director, Antoine Fuqua,' and I was like, 'Right on man.' I flew back to LA the next day and went to the meeting, and then I had one more audition after that, and I got the part, three auditions later.
Congratulations on all of that. That's awesome.
Thank you, thank you. My latest film Wind River, actually they just announced it, it's going to Sundance as well.
Tell me a little about that project.
Yeah, it's a murder-mystery. It takes place on Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, and I play a meth head, so it's pretty much the opposite of what Red Harvest in Magnificent Seven is, you know?
Going back to Magnificent Seven for a minute, you had a lot of great scenes in there, but one of the most memorable was your first one on camera when you and Denzel went head-to-head and you ended up cutting out that deer, and I assumed that was it's heart? What was that like?
That was actually made out of mozzarella cheese and movie blood. The prop guy, Gary, he put that together. That was his creation. Actually, when he opened up the box, he's like, 'Check it out.' I was like, 'Holy smokes man, look at that thing. That thing looks real!' When I took a bite out of it, it actually tasted good.
Was that something filmed through the first time, like just getting past the fact that it looks that gross?
No, I mean I grew up fishing and hunting, so as gross as it might look to somebody else who hasn't, it ain't that gross to me.
I've eaten real deer heart before, so it was kind of like-
That's one of us.
Obviously we'd cook it, but you know. Yeah, it looked real.
Reading your profile, reading your bio, this says you're a big ambassador for the Native Wellness Institute, Boys and Girls, stuff like that. I was wondering if you wanted to comment on that work you're doing.
Native Wellness does a lot of good work in the community and we work with all communities all over Indian country, different native communities here and there, and so it's really cool to be a part of that. I've been with them for about four years now, and working as an ambassador for them, and do a lot of work with the youth. I've actually been doing that stuff since before I started acting.
With the Boys and Girls Club, I'm an ambassador for all clubs, but I'm the national rep for the Native Americans club, so that's a really cool thing to be a part of because I work with ... I go to their Youth of The Year award every year, traveling around, I'm headed up to Washington next week for a club opening, and just doing stuff like that.
Denzel, he's also kind of a mentor to me within the Boys and Girls Club as well, so that's pretty cool. I worked with him on the Hill a couple of times and stuff. He's always amazing. It's a really good thing to be a part of because obviously when you're working on a movie, growing up for example, I didn't have a main native actor that I really really looked up to, and saw somebody like ... I saw them as somebody who, to me was like 'The Guy.' That was like Graham Greene and Wes Studi with their kind of ... They never really did a lot of mainstream stuff, and if they did, I didn't really see much of it.
Denzel was my favorite actor growing up, and now when I see ... There's a lot of Native kids that I work with, it's really cool because one of the things that's really cool about it is that, to me, for them I'm kind of like that cool young hip guy to them in the way that Denzel was to me to these Native kids. That's been really cool, and so when I walk into a room and I have something to say to them, they listen like ... They didn't listen before.
I've been doing this work for years. That's one of the things that movies changed. These kids want to hear what I have to say, which is really cool and I feel like that's an important responsibility. Also, it's inspirational for me to work hard and continue to book these roles. I feel like I can actually do some good in the world in terms of what I'm capable of doing, without being political or anything like that, just being a stand up guy, that's also. I really, really enjoy that type of work.
What is your message to these kids, now being on this end and having risen above adversity?
Just to let them know that it's okay to dream, for one, but I also try to ... I promote healthy lifestyles, health and wellness are a big part of my journey, part of my life. There's an Olympic gold medalist who won the 1964 gold medal in the 10,000 meter run, the only American who ever won that race was a man by the name of Billy Mills from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. He's Oglala Lakota Sioux, and I got the chance to talk with him, and he said something that really struck home with me, and he said that you have to understand that almost 2/3 of all Native people in rural communities are living in poverty, so that's the reality of a lot of reservation life. He said that with that, a lot of us don't know how to dream, but we're not even allowed to dream. We live in a poverty of dreams that's lacking.
I've always had a great support system and my parents are amazing, so they're always supporting my dreams and my goals, and I had these crazy ideas, and they supported them, like, "Yeah, do it son. Do it." I think that even tough it's important to remind these kids that it's okay to dream big, and that anything is possible, but also that you have to work very hard to make it become possible, and that requires being responsible, being on time, things like that. It's a good message, and they respond good to it.
Martin Sensmeier is doing big things around the country, and it's nice to know that there are stars out there trying to make a positive change in their communities. To help support Martin in his endeavors, you can visit and donate to The Boys And Girls Club or The Native Wellness Institute.
Be sure to head out and pick up The Magnificent Seven on Blu-Ray and DVD today!