Liam Neeson's 'Hard Powder' Denied a Canadian Shooting Permit Due to Its Portrayal of a First Nations Character

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Liam Neeson at press conference for ‘Operation Chromite’ on July 13, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea (Photo: Han Myung-Gu/WireImage)
Liam Neeson at press conference for ‘Operation Chromite’ on July 13, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea (Photo: Han Myung-Gu/WireImage)

Liam Neeson is not a man to be trifled with, as proved again and again in action hits like Taken, Unknown, The Grey, Non-Stop, and Run All Night. His next man-on-a-mission turn comes in Hard Power, in which he stars as a snowplow driver — yes, you read that correctly — who vows revenge against the drug dealers he suspects killed his son. But now it seems that mission won’t be taking him to at least one corner of the Rocky Mountains.

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As reported by CBC News, Hard Powder’s request to film in a Canadian portion of the Rocky Mountains national parks has been denied, due to the fact that the film is set to feature a First Nations character (played by First Nations actor, musician, and Order of Canada member Tom Jackson) who’s a gang leader. Apparently, that negative characterization drove enough opposition to stymie the production’s plans, which were to film in Banff, the Lake Louise townsite and ski hill, and the Columbia Icefields. Said location manager Mark Voyce, “They expressed a real concern that this was not something they would favor.”

As Parks Canada recounted in an email, their decision was informed by the film’s depiction of Jackson’s villain:

“Parks Canada’s commitment to reconciliation and respect for indigenous peoples was an important factor in the agency’s final decision on this matter. Parks Canada maintains the right to refuse applications that are not in line with Parks Canada’s mandate or operational priorities.”

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The rejection was reportedly a “death blow” to the film’s intentions to begin shooting on March 20, and came despite a letter from Jackson himself in which he voiced support for the film, stating, “As a consultant to this production, I have taken a strong stance to ensure that the humility and integrity of First Nation roles do not cross the line of disrespect to my culture. I don’t feel my culture is insulted even slightly by the script. ‘Hard Powder’ will be made regardless. The question is whether we deprive our own, or do we harvest for our own?”

Despite this ruling, Hard Powder currently remains set for a 2018 release. You can read more about the controversy at CBC News and the Calgary Herald.

Liam Neeson employs his own particular set of skills in a mall Santa audition, from the Late Show With Stephen Colbert:

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