Arts & Culture

Biloxi native adds authenticity to 'The Revenant'

COURTESY TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILMS/KIMBERLY FRENCH 
 Biloxi native Clay Landry worked with Leonardo DiCaprio on the filming of 'The Revenant.'
COURTESY TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILMS/KIMBERLY FRENCH Biloxi native Clay Landry worked with Leonardo DiCaprio on the filming of 'The Revenant.'

A South Mississippi native turned mountain man played a role in making sure "The Revenant" was authentic in its portrayal of 19th century western America, including how actors Leonardi DiCaprio and Tom Hardy fired their rifles.

Born and raised in Biloxi, Clay Landry worked as a historical consultant on the award-winning film, now nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards.

Alejandro González Iñárritu directed the movie, which based on the life of explorer Hugh Glass and his 200-mile journey across the West in the 1830s.

Landry is a historian for the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale, Wyoming. He said his job on the film was simple.

"My job was to make sure the stars knew how to use their weapons and to make everything as authentic of the time period as possible."

From Coast to Rockies

Landry graduated from Notre Dame High School in Biloxi in 1965. He said although he always loved the Coast, he enjoyed spending his summers with his grandfather in Texas working on a small, family ranch. His love for Texas and agriculture led him down a path that was not well-traveled by his family.

"I graduated from Texas A&M," he said. "The rest of my family went to Ole Miss."

After graduating from college, he said he served in the military, including a tour in Vietnam.

"After I left Vietnam, I was stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado, in 1973 and that's when I got fascinated with the Rocky Mountains and the history of the fur trappers,"

he said. "I got in with some other vets and we were detoxing from the war by backpacking in the mountains."

Pursuing his passion

Landry said he embraced life out West.

"I just really took to the Rockies and it kind of trumped living on the Coast," he said.

After working in agriculture and banking, he decided to pursue his passion for Western culture.

"What started as a hobby became a profession for me," he said. "I had done a lot of publishing and research on 'mountain man' living. I wanted to help make sure this way of life stayed alive."

On the set

It was through his involvement with a national mountain man group that Landry was hired to consult on "The Revenant."

"Somebody from the film called the group and they also called the museum and they wanted someone who knew a lot about fur trading," he said. "They interviewed me and the next thing I know, I had the job. I had never consulted on film before."

Landry headed to Calgary, Canada, in September 2014 to start working with the film's prop departments. He would travel back and forth several times before his work was completed in April 2015.

"They wanted me to make sure the guns were right for the period and the tomahawks and even the moccasins," he said. "Everything had to be authentic."

Boot camp

One of Landry's primary jobs, he said, was making certain the actors in the movie knew how to properly hold and operate the weapons. So he set up a "boot camp" to teach the ways of 1830s fur traders.

And then the film's stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, arrived on set. Landry said he worked with the actors individually.

"They wanted to know as much as possible because they are both good actors and they wanted it to look good on screen," he said. "Leo was a natural -- Tom was, too. They've both had a lot of training in handling weapons. They both liked the idea of mastering some of the skills from the time period."

A box office success

"The Revenant" was released on Christmas Day. Although it was competing with "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" for box office revenue, it has made more than $150 million in tickets sales.

It has racked up numerous wins during this awards season, including best picture, best actor and best director at the Golden Globe Awards.

But Landry isn't among the large number of people who have seen the film.

"I haven't seen it yet," he said. "I hope to see it soon."

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