By Diana DeRosa
When Dorian Brown Pham was chosen for the lead role of socialite Stella Davis in Running Wild, she had never even put her foot in a stirrup. Yet it didn’t take Dorian long to realize she was hooked.
“I had never ridden a horse before this movie. I was nervous that most of the movie I was supposed to be on a horse and I had zero experience,” Dorian said. “I was anxious and excited to get on a horse for the first time. We were a few days into shooting when the horses arrived. I met with the trainer and I got right on a horse for a couple of hours. We did that a little bit each day. Now I miss being around horses and absolutely love it.”
Running Wild, a new horse drama, arrives in theaters February 10, 2017, and features Dorian as part of its all-star cast. The movie is a tale of determination, redemption, perseverance, salvation, hope and growth, and it touches on a current hot topic — wild horses.
Running Wild tells the story of a young widow (Dorian) trying to save her ranch following her husband’s fatal car crash. She creates a convict rehabilitation program, working with a herd of wild horses that have wandered onto her property.
“I played a woman who thought she had everything,” Dorian said. “She never had to do anything for herself. Then she was stripped of it all and had to figure out a way to get it all back. She finds out how to get more than she had before by thinking outside of herself.”
Dorian’s acting background includes being a series regular in FX’s Wilfred for its four-season run. She also starred in the feature film Home Run, directed by The Walking Dead’s David Boyd and Samuel Goldwyn.
Dorian was joined by a strong cast. Brannon Bratt, played by Jason Lewis (of Sex in the City fame), is the lead male and ranch manager. Christina Moore of 90210 plays Jennifer Hutchins, the sister of billionaire animal rights extremist Meredith Parish, played by Sharon Stone, best known for receiving a Golden Globe award for her starring role in Casino.
Scottish actor Tommy Flanagan, who starred for seven seasons on Sons of Anarchy and also appeared in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, plays the lead convict, Jon Kilpatrick.
Herd Of Wild Horses
The story centers on a group of wild horses who were truly “Running Wild” across the government land on which they were sequestered. In their meanderings, this group happened to spy an opening in a fence and noticed that there was grass on the other side, and ended up on Dorian’s land. Little did they know that this decision would change the future of their lives.
The property they wandered onto was owned by Stella, a young carefree California ranch socialite whose life of privilege would soon be interrupted by a knock on the door. That knock would reveal the devastating news that JT, her husband, had died in a fatal car crash.
As if that weren’t enough, she would soon learn that the Double Diamond Ranch, which her family had fought to keep for over four generations, was in peril. Unbeknownst to her, JT had mortgaged it off to the banks to keep the ranch afloat.
Stella not only finds hope in the form of the wild horses, but many startling revelations such as it was illegal to feed or water the undernourished horses and that they would have to be returned to where they came from. Luckily for the wild horses, Stella comes up with a plan.
Working With The Horses
Dorian (as Stella) not only enjoyed riding the horses but being around them and despite her lack of experience, she got one of the fastest in the group.
“Robbie was mine and he loved to go fast. Of course! Give the girl with zero experience the gorgeous, athletic horse that loves to go fast,” she said.
Yet Robbie also had some other traits that made the two of them a perfect match. “I had a lot of speeches in the movie, and one of the trainers told me that Robbie would always be very still and calm during my speeches. I love that. We definitely had a bond. He knew that I was a novice, though.”
Dorian also witnessed what some love and attention did for the feral horses that arrived undernourished and skinny. “One of the trainers took me to see the feral horses toward the end of production. They didn’t look like the same horses!”
As much as she loved the horses, she also enjoyed playing Stella. “I’m so proud of this film. I’m honored to have worked with our cast and crew. It was a very special experience for me. Experiencing such a full-circle evolution for a character is a great gift for an actor. It was a privilege.”
When asked which scene in the movie she loved the most (without revealing too much to those who haven’t seen it), she was quick to respond, “A very important scene for me was when I had to ask a ‘friend’ for help. My character quickly finds out that her life is/was very different than she thought. I got to experience betrayal, shame and humiliation all in one conversation. Doesn’t sound like fun but I promise you, it was. From that point she has a choice — be a victim or put on your big-girl boots.”
Finally, ask the city girl if she knows the difference between a real cowboy and a movie cowboy and she simply shakes her head before responding, “I am such a city kid. I have no idea what cowboys do. That sounds horrible. I just know that I had a great time working with both our cowboys and our movie horse wranglers. I learned a lot from both.”
By the time Dorian was finished with the movie, she not only felt comfortable in the saddle, but had been bitten by the horse bug. For her husband’s birthday, she said, she “took him for a sunset horse ride. Now we both love riding!”
For more about Running Wild, check out their website at www.RunningWildMovie.com.
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Photos courtesy of Running Wild