Jacob Lofland, who plays Young Eli on The Son, talks about his relationship with Toshaway, losing Prairie Flower and how that loss transforms him.
Q: Young Eli is finally a warrior within the Comanche, what does it mean to him to come back to camp and see his group has been attacked, leaving Prairie Flower scared for her life and Toshaway gravely injured?
A: It hits him really hard. This is the first time he’s had this happen to his own. He’s seen it happen. He’s probably at this point been a part of doing it to other tribes, but he hasn’t had this loss for himself — coming back and seeing everything almost taken from him — so it hits him pretty hard and he realizes that, every time he leaves, he leaves everything he loves and everything he cares about behind.
Q: We find out Young Eli is going to be a father. How does this news change him?
A: I think there’s mixed emotions about it. For one, it’s an amazing thing. At the time, that was the goal, is to have a child and it was pretty rare really at the time to have a kid, so, in one way, he’s super-excited, super-thrilled. And the other way it’s like, oh my God, I’m going to be a dad, what am I going to do? The same things people have now. It’s a scary thought to think that you’re going to be in charge of a life.
Q: How does it change Prairie Flower?
A: It becomes all business. Prairie Flower goes from what’s best for Eli and Prairie Flower to what’s best for the baby. What’s going to happen if we do this, if we go left here or right here? Everything’s for the baby now in Prairie Flower’s eyes.
Q: What is it like for Eli to see the tension between Toshaway and his son? Does it change how he feels about Toshaway?
A: I don’t think it necessarily changes how he feels about Toshaway. That’s his [Eli’s] father. He’s brought him this far, taught him everything he knows. But it definitely makes Eli question Toshaway’s judgment. He turned his back on Fat Wolf, so what would keep him from doing that to me? But he hasn’t shown any sign of doing that thus far in Eli and his relationship, so I don’t think there’s a whole lot of worry. It’s just a little unsettling.
Q: Eli chooses to protect Ingrid when he finds out she’s killed Scalped a Dog. Why do you think he does this even though it goes against Comanche beliefs?
A: I think most of it is because he feels guilty for her being there. He’s the reason that she’s a slave and a captive, and that’s always at the back of his mind, so when the opportunity comes up for him to somewhat help her, to say let me protect you this one time, I think he kind of jumps at that opportunity.
Q: While gathering food, Prairie Flower is shot with an arrow by an Apache. She dies later that night. How does this loss impact Eli and how does it play into who he will become?
A: I think it creates who he becomes. I think it creates that hardened man, who will never get close again, never let myself get hurt like this. I think that’s where that comes from, because he’s never been hurt like this. He’s never loved anything like he’s loved Prairie Flower. I think that is the first real stepping stone to how he becomes who he is.
Q: What’s your favorite memory from filming this show?
A: I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite memory, but filming Prairie Flower’s death stands out. That was one of the most stressful days of my career probably, not just of that shoot. We filmed it, I don’t know how many times. We’d both been crying all day, going back and forth, and then we’d break and joke around. At the end, where everybody said cut, it’s time to go home, we couldn’t. Both of us broke down and couldn’t move for like 30 minutes. We just had to sit there and cry and laugh, and the producers came down and sat with us. It took that much out of us to do that scene. That was a monumental thing in my career. I’ve never felt that strongly in a scene before.
The relationship that we all had on that show was insane and especially me and Prairie Flower, me and Liz [Elizabeth Frances]. We were together every day. It was a lot of fun. It was just like losing each other in real life.
Read a Q&A with Elizabeth Frances, who plays Prairie Flower.
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