After 16 years in prison, the Cajun rider is winning in the saddle again – and making headlines for his role in the critically acclaimed feature film Jockey
“I’m not afraid of dying. I’m just afraid of not being able to ride.
This quote is from the critically acclaimed film Jockeywhich debuted this year in the US and UK, and the line is not from a screenwriter, nor is the delivery from a professional actor.
Instead, it comes from perhaps the most unlikely sources. Logan Cormier has reportedly been called “rude” in the past. The 42-year-old Louisiana native, one more in a long line of Cajun jockeys, spices up his speech with generous helpings of profanity, murders the king’s Englishmen and, in the distant past, he killed – so to speak – on the racetrack.
Moving from his home tracks in Louisiana to a tough jockey colony in Maryland as an apprentice in 1996, he won on five of his first 10 mounts. Seven years later, in 2003, his purse winnings were just over $900,000, aided by 88 wins and a very respectable 16% win rate.
His career for a long, long time ended there, and it took 16 years before a storybook returned to a stakes race at Wyoming Downs (more on that later). In the meantime, he wasn’t just off track; he spent nine years in a Texas prison for serious drug-related crimes, including robbery and trafficking.
Looking back on his life, it’s ironic to think he used to say his whole life could be a movie. So perhaps it’s no surprise that after a coach he rode for at Turf Paradise told him about a movie being made there, Cormier approached director Clint Bentley. in the runway kitchen and said, “Hey man, I need to be in your movie!
This need came from a deep love for being a jockey and also a resentment about the hidden parts of riding and the hard times that can come with it. The wild ride that has been Cormier’s life was tailor-made for the role of jockey Leo Brock.
“All the things that happen in the film, I had already experienced them,” says Cormier.
“I knew straight away he would be awesome in the movie,” says Bentley, who also co-wrote Jockey alongside Greg Kwedar. “My only concern was that he would be so magnetic that he might overshadow some of the other actors in the film.”
Read Chris Smith’s review of Jockey
Jockey is a brutally authentic film about an aging jockey, Jackson Silva, played to perfection by longtime actor, Clifton Collins Jr.
Silva is nearing the end of a career due to a progressive and debilitating illness, but is hoping for one last hurrah on a promising horse.
Another jockey, Leo Brock, played by Cormier, is Silva’s friend and helps add dimension to Collins’ character. “He was the perfect person,” Bentley says of Cormier.
“I didn’t know if we would find one jockey who could do that or several jockeys who would play versions of that. As soon as we found Logan, he became a much bigger presence.
Maybe that’s underestimating it. After reading lines from a critical hospital scene where Silva visits an injured Leo Brock, Bentley and Kwedar expanded the game and added additional scenes for the character.
Cormier and Collins were also given free rein to go beyond the script and into emotionally charged impromptu exchanges that vindicate the universally positive reviews the film has earned. Surprisingly, the line about death and the fear only of not being able to ride was improvised by Cormier; the hospital scene brought tears to not just Collins but virtually everyone on set.
“It wasn’t scripted – it was just them [Cormier and Collins] find the emotion in that scene,” Bentley says.
“Clifton is an amazing actor, but he got there because he had a great partner in that scene, Logan,” Bentley adds.
“You think of someone who’s never been in front of a camera before… how much raw talent does he have to deliver such a performance in this scene?”
“Forget a first-time actor. Even if you’re only working with a daytime actor, a supporting actor coming in, it’s a really tough scene to do. I can’t overstate what an amazing job he did in conveying that emotion.
Cormier says he and Collins “had a vibe” when acting together. “We were on the same page,” he says. “Coming out of nowhere, when he said something, I kind of walked away, or he knew what to say about me.”
Bentley says he’s had comments from the movie industry about Cormier’s acting, saying he’s a “great actor” and asking where he found him. A review in The Hollywood Reporter praised Cormier for playing Brock “to piercing effect”.
Bentley credits the off-screen rapport between Collins and Cormier as the catalyst for a performance by Collins that engaged him in early talks for an Academy Award for Best Actor. Collins won a US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Actor at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.
“Logan was a big help showing Clifton what it’s like to be a jockey and explaining things Clifton needed to learn like how to hold a stick,” he says. “But he went above and beyond, helping Clifton get into the psyche of a jockey. It was huge in terms of Clifton unlocking that role and that performance. Logan would definitely be a great actor.
For Cormier, the film was a reversal of the cliché of life imitating art. In this case, it was art reproducing life.
He was hospitalized and received visits from jockey friends. He also experienced being replaced on mounts for no reason other than a bigger name becoming available to ride. Make a comeback out of jail, he’s been tackless [jockey equipment] and the money to buy it.
Among the many parallels to Cormier’s life experiences in the film is a scene where Silva’s character gives his tack to a young horseman, Gabriel, played by Moises Arias. “One of my best friends is Kendrick Carmouche,” Cormier says.
After his release from prison, Cormier said Carmouche sent him all the gear he needed – boots, helmet, body armor and straps – and “put two hundred dollars in the trunk with a note: ‘Don’t you worry about nothing. Go ahead and leave.
Cormier started off with a trick no screenwriter could have imagined. He won on his first mount since 2003 aboard a horse named Westley in a stake at Wyoming Downs in 2019. “I hadn’t worked anything in 16 years,” Cormier says. “I galloped for three weeks and won this stakes race.
“When I crossed the wire I lost my breath for a second and couldn’t breathe. I started crying and my glasses fogged up. All the riders were saying, ‘You didn’t ride Since when ?!’ »
Another scene is of a jockey going through an incredible litany of broken bones for most if not all experienced jockeys, but saying with genuine, heartfelt nonchalance for a jockey, “I’m lucky.” I have never been hurt. Collins, too, has a scene where he asks a vet to examine him because he can’t afford a doctor.
Cormier truly lives what is depicted in the film. “I just broke my hand about a month ago and I haven’t stopped galloping since I broke it,” says Cormier, now back in Louisiana, where he trains horses on several farms in the Opelousas region. “My mom was like, ‘You need to go to the doctor.’ And I said, ‘No, I can’t afford it!’ »
Authenticity borders on documentary for the film which features other jockeys from Turf Paradise with bit parts. There’s an actual spill from a Turf Paradise race that’s used to put fictional character Leo Brock in the hospital.
Martin Bourdieu, the jockey injured in the spill, broke both femurs, punctured both lungs, broke numerous ribs and was sidelined for six months. “I took him aside and said, ‘I can find another spill if that makes you feel weird,'” Bentley told Bourdieu. “He wanted it in the movie. He had a little pride in it. »
Cormier’s future? He has no idea of other acting roles in his future, but horseback riding is a possibility in his home country largely because, perhaps, of the movie. A Louisiana racing commission official called him recently to get his driver’s license back in 2023. Before addressing the license, however, the official asked, “Hey, are you the Logan that was in the film?”
Jockey, while a mountaintop amidst many valleys in Cormier’s life, “is not yet registered with me,” he says. “I’m not going to say it’s life-changing, but it helps me…the perception people have of me.”
He said the movie and his role in it has gotten people in and out of the race who know him and wonder, “Maybe he’s doing the right thing now?” They stamped me because of my story.
Cormier freely acknowledges his past drug addiction issues that landed him in jail and says he’s “waiting for society to let me in.”
In prison, he dreamed of being on horseback “but the horse wasn’t going or really going anywhere”. In another recurring nightmare, he recalled, “I had a horse and I couldn’t get to the racetrack on time or get late. I could never get there.
According to a psychologist, the dream is typical of possible threats to achieve strongly desired goals. No spoiler here, but Jockey – “the most realistic movie you can see about racing,” according to Cormier – is open to some degree, as it should be, in keeping with its authenticity.
The same goes for Cormier’s life. “I don’t have a chance after that,” he said. “This is the last chance I have to do anything with my life.”
Jockey: a remarkable insight into the difficult and unglamorous life of so many runners
Jay Hovdey’s favorite racehorses – Fran’s Valentine: ‘She kept trying so hard’
California dreamin’ – the inside story of California Chrome
Lou Hodges: Capture the moment – 100,000 times and counting
See the latest TRC World Rankings for Horses / Jockeys / Trainers / Bulls