Saturday, January 12, 2008

L&O Actors in Other Roles: Adam Beach in the new “Comanche Moon”

Adam Beach will have a role in the mini-series “Comanche Moon”, which has its first installment on CBS on Sunday, January 13 at 9:00 PM ET. Comanche Moon is a prequel to the “Lonesome Dove” mini-series. The Sioux City Journal wrote an interesting article about Adam, covering Comanche Moon and his work with Law & Order SVU. The article is below.

Adam is also currently nominated for a Golden Globe for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television" for "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee." This mini-series already won Dick Wolf an Emmy.

"Adam Beach breaks barriers
By Bruce R. Miller Journal staff writer

LOS ANGELES -- Hollywood Indian.

The term makes Adam Beach bristle. "It's such a stereotype," he says. "And yet, how do you get people away from it?"

His solution: Play a detective on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" who just happens to be Mohawk.

"In one year on that show," he says, "I did what I've been trying to do in 17 -- create a different perception of who we are as Indian people. It's amazing."

Growing up in Canada, Beach longed to have Johnny Depp's career. "On '21 Jump Street,' he played different characters involved with different high schools. I wanted to live a different life, too. Coming from the second worst neighborhood in Canada, I wanted more.

"The neighborhood was predominantly native and 80 percent of them went to jail."

Today, the 35-year-old says, he acts because he wants to be a role model for other native kids. "I never saw myself as Tom Cruise or wanting to have a certain stature. I just wanted to evolve and be the best I could be."

True to form, his resume has gotten more impressive every year. In 2006, he was key to Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers." This week, he plays Blue Duck, the outcast son of a Comanche warrior in "Comanche Moon," a prequel to the award-winning "Lonesome Dove." ("That's got to be one of the worst names," he says with a laugh.)

But the prestige factor of the miniseries can't be ignored -- it's written by Oscar winners Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana and it stars Val Kilmer, Steve Zahn and Rachel Griffiths. Best of all, it's one of those network cornerstones that could spell big ratings in the cold of winter.

A member of the Saulteaux Tribe of Manitoba, Beach was sent to live with relatives in Winnipeg after his parents died within two months of each other. Acting became a release and a chance to prove "we're not just a statistic of failure. There are some of us doing good."

At 16, he met an extras casting director who hired him for a role in "Lost in the Barrens." That led to independent films and several Canadian series. When Eastwood came calling, Beach was ready. The Oscar-winning director cast him as World War II Marine Ira Hayes -- a troubled man who couldn't deal with the attention that came from his participation in the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. The role won Beach critical acclaim and a shot at making that "role model" dream come true.

"I'm not in the business to make money. I'm someone that a generation of native peoples across North America looks to in the sense of a hero -- someone who has done the impossible."

While he isn't Mohawk, Beach says he's able to tap into the tribe's characteristics and use them to fuel Detective Chester Lake, the character he plays on "SVU."

"Mohawks have a lot of bravado," he explains. "They're known for being a really tough, tough nation. When they'd play lacrosse, there'd be 400 members on each side doing battle. To score a goal, someone would die. They used the game to resolve land issues and the Mohawks always won."

The Mohawks were native to the New York area and helped build it, he says. So that drive -- that pride of heritage -- gives Lake reason for some of his actions.

Beach's tribe? "The Saulteaux were Eastern Woodland Indians. They had a relationship with the Plains Indians," he says. "They're good people but they're not like the Mohawks."

That nuance, he says, is something he wishes more people knew. Eventually, "we'll get there."

Now, though, he's dealing with life in New York. "The first time I was there I stayed in a hotel and lasted about 10 minutes. I felt like a rat in a laboratory. I went walking down the streets and realized you couldn't see the sunlight.

"Now, it's like I'm in the center of the world. The people you run into could be a businessman or a homeless man. The mayor still takes subway and he's a wealthy man. The city never stops. It makes you want more out of yourself because you're so consumed by everybody else surrounding you."

Television? "It's an extension of who you are. When I joined 'Law & Order' the other actors said, 'Just be yourself. Try not to overanalyze who the character is. They want you.'"

Beach heeded the advice but found himself copying Christopher Meloni's speech patterns. "I sounded like him," he says. "He said, 'Hey, Adam...don't come in and do the same thing I'm doing.' I figured, he's the lead actor, you don't want to overstep his boundaries, you want to complement what he does. So I listened and now I'm more like me."

"Comanche Moon" airs Sunday on CBS; "Law & Order: SVU" airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on NBC. "

A link to the actual article can be found here.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, HERE!

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
These Are Their Stories.

No comments: