Summer of '91: I lived for three months at the Cuckleburr Motel owned by Keith and Nona Prang in Kadoka, South Dakota. The film was set on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I learned how to build a teepee from a Sioux AIM member who had recently done time for murder at Wounded Knee. I picked ticks off Sam Shepard's brown lab retriever. I saw prairie-dog hunters and wondered how anyone could enjoy shooting those adorable things. There was only one restaurant in town, and on the menu: meat, steak, and beef. On Fridays they had two extra dishes at the salad bar, "peas and cheese" and "ambrosia". I eventually learned how to make a complete vegetarian meal on a Weber grill.
The Canadian actor Graham Greene also lived at the Cuckleburr. Very lovely fellow, but my dog Shakti didn't like him for some reason. He and his wife even bought special treats trying to make friends and she just growled. She didn't like him on Thunderheart, and she didn't like him on Dances with Wolves either. It was embarrassing.
I had determined by this time that I would leave movie work at some point and go back to grad school, so I drove to Rapid City to take piano lessons every couple of weeks and studied for the GRE exams. Thunderheart was a film production well-managed by Chris Cronyn, son of Hume and Jessica Tandy. I don't remember much about Val Kilmer. He lives in character all the time so you don't talk to him.