‘The Rider': How Brady Jandreau’s Brush With Death Led Him to Hollywood (Exclusive Video)

TIFF 2017: Professional rodeo rider’s near-fatal injury is key to Chloe Zhao’s newest film

Last Updated: September 19, 2017 @ 12:49 PM

Native American cowboy Brady Jandreau may have travelled along one of the most unlikely paths to Hollywood: He had grizzly accident on a horse and nearly lost his life.

Luckily he lived. What’s also lucky: Director Chloe Zhao used the tragedy as a jumping off point for her film “The Rider,” about a group of Lakota cowboys.

“Horsemanship and the cowboy lifestyle and my culture as a Native American are all three things that are very very important to me,” Jandreau said in a recent interview with TheWrap at the Toronto International Film Festival. “I’ve worked with horses since I was a little kid… I was really honored to tell my story in all this.”

Jandreau, a professional rodeo rider, was on a horse when his foot got stuck in the stirrup and the horse stepped right on his head. He was immediately rushed to the hospital and somehow clung onto life. Filmmaker Zhao told TheWrap the harrowing injury gave her a story for her film — and after her first one, “Songs My Brothers Taught Me,” which is what initially led her to Jandreau at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

“I went through a lot of pretty intense struggles in my life, through my head injury whether it was mental or psychological,” the film’s star cowboy told TheWrap.

“After the film was finished, I kept going back [to the Pine Ridge reservation] to visit and that’s where I met Brady, in the basement of a cattle ranch on the reservation,” Zhao explained. “Then I saw him with horses, I knew I wanted to make another film that explores people’s relationship with the land they live on and there’s no one better to represent that. I didn’t have a story until he actually got hurt last April at the rodeo and then he was back riding horses… To me, that’s someone willing to risk their life to keep their identity.”

“The Rider” was first screened in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Art Cinema Award.

Watch the video above.