Sam Shepard Shocked By Superstitions Of Indigenous Bolivian Tribes
Actor Sam Shepard received a hostile welcome from locals in Potosi and Uyuni, Bolivia while shooting new western Blackthorn - because they were "rife with superstitions" about white visitors.
The Right Stuff star filmed the movie entirely on location in Bolivia and once he left the capital city of La Paz, he cast and crew were met with much suspicion - because locals were not accustomed to "seeing white people."
He tells New York Post columnist Cindy Adams, "Seventy per cent of the population is Indian and rife with superstitions. In the mountains an Indian lady appeared suddenly from nowhere flailing her arms, shrieking loudly. I didn't know what was happening but stopped instantly. They later explained she believes white faces are ghosts who will tear her belly out and eat her intestines.
"The culture is distinct. Packs of dogs behind barbed wire. In one scene I was trying to herd a llama, which is indigenous to the area, and people were screaming. Their belief is the pregnant animal, seeing white people, would abort or deliver a stillborn baby... Spanish is not their first language... Translators with us told us what was happening."
But the locals weren't Shepard's only obstacle - the country's topography and climate proved to be a challenge as well.
He adds, "It was hard going... Wasn't easy working at 1,500 feet, where the air is thin and (it's) hard to breathe. Our hotel rooms had tanks of air, and on location auxiliary oxygen went around. We shot in places so remote that driving to the location took two hours."