Everything seems to be changing for Adam Beach.
Everything except Adam Beach himself, that is.
The Canadian actor is about to become a household name because of Windtalkers, the new and blockbusterish John Woo war feature opening Friday.
In Windtalkers, Beach stars opposite Nicolas Cage in a World War II story based on fact -- the Marine training of 29 American Navajo to use their language as a secret military code. Cage plays a Marine assigned to protect the Navajo code talker played by Beach. It's a buddy/war/brotherhood kind of undertaking.
"I'm very fortunate to be part of this," says the endlessly cheerful Beach, who is, as ever, utterly unimpressed with himself. "What John Woo is doing with this story is re-creating the identity of Indians in America, the whole fashion of the Hollywood Indian. My character is a real person. The Navajo code talkers helped speed the war to a close and saved a lot of lives."
Mind you, says Beach, he had his work cut out for him on Windtalkers. "I had a tough time portraying him and learning their language -- Navajo is probably the most difficult of all the Indian languages. I hope I pulled it off. I think I did. If you look at their history and the history of films about Indian people, you can see they don't cater to our people or our language."
Beach, 29, is currently such a hot property that a move to Los Angeles has become a necessity. What the heck is this laid-back guy from Winnipeg going to do in the company of the plastic people of Hollywood?
No worries, he says. "I have a good judgement of character. I allow myself to be as open as I can be. That brings in people with the same attributes, who are themselves. I think I shun away the people who are disguising themselves."
Hmmmm. In L.A., that could be everybody.
But Beach actually welcomes any intrusion into his life that fame might bring. It's just another opportunity, he says, particularly to continue his work on behalf of Native Youth.
"I'll show a voice for the youth out there, to talk to them and to young actors. I want people to know of my experiences if it will help them with their own lives in some way."
Beach's experiences include the fact that he is a Saulteaux Indian and grew up with that language and those customs, living until the age of eight on the Dog Creek Indian Reserve in Manitoba. It was when he was eight that both his parents died, both in accidents, within months of each other, leaving Beach and his two brothers to be raised by relatives. He faced all the problems available to Native North Americans, and then some.
Beach started acting as a teenager, winning a film role in Lost In The Barrens when he was 16. He worked in local theatre and TV, eventually graduating to roles in North Of 60, Lonesome Dove, Touched By An Angel and The Rez. On the big screen, he's had roles in Smoke Signals, Joe Dirt, My Indian Summer, The Art Of Woo, Mystery, Alaska, Squanto -- A Warrior's Tale and Dance Me Outside. His upcoming films include The Big Empty, Posers and two indie films, Last Stop and Now And Forever.
Recently separated from his wife, Beach has two little sons aged six and four, who live in Ottawa. "I'll be living in L.A. in a few months, so I have to work out a way to have two homes so I can be close to them when I'm not working," he says. "My personal life has a lot of changes and challenges right now. It's a new step for me, to re-create my whole lifestyle. But I'm always looking forward to challenge."
Born: Nov. 11, 1972
Raised: On the Dog Creek Indian Reserve in Manitoba until his parents' deaths.
Family: His parents died when he was 8. He has two brothers.
Separated from: Meredith Porter. They have two sons, Noah and Luke.
Award winning movie role: In Smoke Signals, which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.
Teen fun: Was with short-lived garage band Lethic, which covered hard stuff like Black Sabbath.
Memorable role: Frank Fencepost in Dance Me Outside.