INT: Adam Beach
native Adam Beach has been working under the radar for a while now,
with small roles in a variety of film and TV projects over his
16-year acting career. FLAGS
OF OUR FATHERS
represents his biggest role yet, as he plays Ira Hayes, a Native
American Marine whose experiences at
Adam Beach recently stopped by the Four Seasons in
The author of Flags of Our Fathers, James Bradley, seems very emotional about Ira [Beach's character in the film].
What I know is the first time I talked to James Bradley about Ira, he wears him on his sleeve. You could tell that Ira was very honest and truthful to the way he felt from the stories that hes heard. He says, out of everybody hes talked to, when they talk about Ira, its all about respect. Hes amazed at how much everybody respected him. Theres got to be a good man in there. Theres got to be a reason why. I saw James at the hotel and he looked at me and it was just endearing. I saw a child in him for some reasons. Hes like You did a great job. I said, thanks, man.
What was Iras motivation to be in the Marine Corps? He faced racial slurs a lot, even his friends called him Chief.
Well, if you follow the history of Native American peoples, every boy that was growing up back in the hunting buffalo days, you had a purpose and that purpose was to be a warrior to find your spirit and to protect your family and I believe that a lot of our native peoples still have that spirit and its an honor to be a Marine because youre not only fighting for America, youre also fighting for your ancestral lands and theres a stronger spirit and drive behind that. Ignorance will always be around. Back in the day, I feel bad about that scene where he was not respected to have a drink but I think weve come to a place now where the respect is different and other Marines that I know who are Native American, they know the history, not only of World War 2 or World War 1 and the Indian Wars but also ancestral wars. Theres a heartbeat that they feel thats embedded in the land we walk.
How hard was it for you to play? Every single scene, someone addressing you is using some kind of racial slur. Is that difficult for you to deal with as an actor?
Growing up, I come from a city thats predominately native and theres just a history of people not liking Indians, primarily its a fear of what they dont know. Ive always been surrounded by ignorance and Ive been one to grow up in a passive nature. My stepdad, my dads brother, hes very passive so hes taught me how to just remain passive. My friends growing up in school would always call me Chief and I liked it.
Were most of them Native Americans?
No. They are all White and a couple of Black guys too. Theyd always call me Chief and I didnt mind because a Chief, for our people, is the highest standard. Out of the States we call them Chairman. But [laughing] my buddy accidentally called my cousin Chief and he nearly knocked his head off. Theres an acceptance of tolerance of ignorance on different levels. There are some people who have been ridiculed in a way that like for me to say Indian to represent who we are as a people, Indian people understand, yeah, were Indian but when someone non-Indian says Indian its now youre not politically correct.
How daunting is it to work with Clint Eastwood? Did you just walk on the set and go Holy crap, its Clint Eastwood?
Ill tell you a story. We met for the first time, me, Ryan and Jesse and were like [in awe] Clint Eastwood! Were about to meet him. We were all joking on the plane. Okay, how can we get kicked out of this job? How can we get fired? We were joking.. Lets push him to say make my day Well see how long it takes us to get him to say make my day without us getting fired. So, we show up on set and were sitting there and he comes by wearing this hat and Jesse Bradford says oh hey, what does that say on the back of your hat? Its a Latin saying. He says it in Latin. What does it mean? Make My Day!! Then he walks away and were all like yes! One day and were not fired!
Ira apparently wanted to please his mother, but did he ever have a family?
I dont know. I didnt really go into the history of Ira. I really fell into a whole emotional outlet world. My mind went into the horrors of war. Whats the most horrific? What is it that I can embed in my head that, when I think of a friend, I want to cry? By the time I showed up, I was a miserable wreck. Its part of what we do. How far can we take ourselves without hurting ourselves? I found a direct connection in that way of trying to fight against the horrors. Its not gonna take me down! Its not, its not.
Then, after ten years itll take the best out of you. Just with regard to James Bradleys story of how he didnt hear anything from his father. For his father to hide those emotions that long, it takes so much strength. But, for him, he didnt want to pass it on. Those memories are so strong to carry. I think, with Ira, he knew that he couldnt hide them so he would end up in situations that would distract from any of those stories. He probably felt so comfortable in jail because he didnt have to talk to anybody. Drinking is depressant. Its supposed to shut you down and I think thats what he wanted. He wanted to sleep. Right now we have post traumatic stress syndrome; you got a pill, youre good to go.
Theres a lot of talk today about your name coming up for an Oscar. Is that something that would be very meaningful to you?
I think, with this film and success and the doors that
its opened, Im like in the barren land.
Ive never seen this far.
Like Im asking my manager, what do we do next? I
cant think. But I
think being accepted on that level really, I know that the nations
of our people across
You are doing Comanche Moon as well. What is it like to step that far back? Indians were so misrepresented in that era. Is that frustrating for you or do you find pride in represented them in the way they should have been?
I like to represent an honesty and a truth about who we are. People were like, well, youve got to play this killer Nobody realizes, I read history. There was this family I wanted to do a movie on. They were the Star family. There was one of the sons and he was coo-coo. His father told him you cant live here anymore because he was a suicidal murderer. Hed leave and go kill somebody and just come back home. I based this Blue Duck character out of this man because, there had to have existed somebody who just lost it. Hopefully, when people see Blue Duck, theres some realism in there somewhere .but not too much.
Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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