About a dozen actors walked off set of Sandler’s first Netflix film over jokes about Native American culture, women and names
About a dozen Native American actors have walked off the set of an Adam Sandler spoof western in protest at its depiction of Apache culture, including characters with names like Beaver’s Breath and No Bra.
The group quit on Wednesday after taking offence at jokes in the The Ridiculous Six, reportedly a satire of The Magnificient Seven which is to be Sandler’s first film for Netflix.
In addition to certain characters’ names, they complained about a female character squatting and urinating while smoking a peace pipe and the inappropriate positioning of feathers on a teepee, according to the Indian Country Today Media Network.
The film stars Sandler, Nick Nolte, Steve Buscemi, Dan Aykroyd, Jon Lovitz and Vanilla Ice. Sandler co-wrote it with his veteran collaborator, Tim Herlihy.
It is to be released via Netflix, the first of a four-movie deal with the streaming service, which has scored high repeat viewing figures with Sandler hits such as The Wedding Singer.
The mostly Navajo Native American actors were told The Ridiculous Six, which is being filmed in New Mexico, would be humorous but not racist, actor Loren Anthony told the Indian Country Today Media Network.
“So I agreed to it, but on Monday things started getting weird on the set. One thing that really offended a lot of people was that there was a female character called Beaver’s Breath. One character says: ‘Hey, Beaver’s Breath.’ And the Native woman says: ‘How did you know my name?’”
When the actors complained, the director said the disrespect was not intentional and the film is a comedy, said Anthony.
He also complained about alleged inaccuracies. “We were supposed to be Apache, but it was really stereotypical and we did not look Apache at all. We looked more like Comanche.”
Another Navajo actor, Allison Young, said producers rebuffed her protests. “They just told us: ‘If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave.’”
Young said she cried. “This is supposed to be a comedy that makes you laugh. A film like this should not make someone feel this way. Nothing has changed. We are still just Hollywood Indians.”
Sandler’s film company, Happy Madison Productions, referred a request for comment to its collaborator Brillstein Entertainment Partners. A representative there referred the Guardian to Netflix, which did not immediately respond.
Sandler’s comedies have made more than $3bn worldwide, but he has endured a string of flops with Jack and Jill, Blended, That’s My Boy and The Cobbler.