Adam Beach Discusses ‘Diablo’ ‘Suicide Squad’ Scott Eastwood And More
Adam Beach has been one of the most high profile Native American actors in Hollywood for almost two decades, in films like Windtalkers, Joe Dirt, Flags of our Fathers and Cowboys & Aliens. 2016 is about to be an even bigger year for Beach, particularly when he joins the new DC cinematic universe as Slipknot in Suicide Squad this August.
But first, Beach can be seen supporting Suicide Squad and Flags of our Fathers co-star Scott Eastwood in the much smaller, yet perhaps just as twisted Western Diablo. Eastwood plays a 1870s Civil War vet who trudges through the West to find his kidnapped wife, meeting several dangerous characters along the way – with Beach’s Native American chief helping to bring his darkest secrets to light.
Diablo will be out in theaters and VOD on Jan. 8. But first, Beach discussed Diablo, Suicide Squad and more with TheMovieNetwork.com’s Robert Dougherty on Dec. 17.
TMN/Robert Dougherty: How did this project come to you?
Adam Beach: Scott's a friend of mine and he called me up and he said, "Hey, do you wanna jump on this project with me?" I said, "Of course, man, I don't even have to read it." And then, after I read it, I was like, "Oh my God, dude, thank you for having me in it because this is a beautiful scroll."
(Adam Beach in Diablo)
TMN: In a movie where there are many guest stars on the main character's path, what makes your character significant to his journey?
Beach: I think Scott was really smart about the collection of actors that he put together because you need a strong support when you're the lead actor. Following his growth of this character to the end, we need to perceive certain parts of him that kind of bring out the essence of the movie and his character. And with my part in the film, I see it as a very spiritual counterpart in diluting his psychological warfare of being in the Civil War. But also, the kind, gentle being that helps him help his wounds from getting shot.
But I think waking him up and through the ceremony really puts you in the moment, like what is gonna happen now? You know what I mean?
TMN: How do you work on developing and fleshing out your character within a limited screen time?
Beach: Well, it's important that I have a good linguistics teacher to teach me the Cree dialogue because I don't speak Cree. With over 500 nations, with so many different languages, that's one importance. How do you speak the words that are written down in the English language, but interpreted in a way that's different? That's really hard, so the writers have to really fine tune a lot of details.
And I really wanted to show the chemistry that I had with Scott as friends, to interpret it as these two people who've never met each other. We can see each other's souls in the characters, so you really see that dynamic on screen.
(Scott Eastwood in Diablo)
TMN: You and Scott go way back from Flags of Our Fathers. Is there any real comparison between the Scott you met then and the Scott of today?
Beach: Yeah, the Scott now is really seeing his future in film. He's being selective of what he wants to do. My career's been over 20 years, so if he has a decision to make or something that is trivial to him, he'll call me up and say, "Hey, this is where I'm at. What should I do? How should I do it?" And that's from personal to professional, also. So it's kind of like what friends do, I guess.
TMN: Is it hard to go really in depth teasing this movie? Because when watching it, it seems like one of those movies you don't really want to know about too much ahead of time.
Beach: Oh, you can't. That's what I told Scott. I said, "You can never tell anybody the end of this movie because that's kind of the journey." You have to go on this journey of this character. That's why it's important to hire strong characters that will protect that storyline, but will enable you to still focus on this lead character, like, what is this guy? Who is he? What's he doing? I think Scott chose the right characters for this movie. They all did a good job.
TMN: Did you walk on this movie before or after you reunited with Scott on Suicide Squad?
Beach: This was before Suicide Squad. And it was nice to join him on Suicide Squad because we went from an independent to a big, all kinds of million dollar feature. And we do that a lot because comic book movies are made out in a certain platform and we just have to bring the realistic version of it.
What was powerful about Suicide Squad is playing a villain and realistically bringing it to what villains are, as opposed to the comic book villain. You know what I mean? There's so much you can portray on comic books because it's an imaginary circumstance that we have to bring to life on a feature film, and I think a lot of people are gonna enjoy what they see because we're crazy individuals.
(Adam Beach is Suicide Squad)
TMN: Should we expect to see more of your character as the marketing picks up?
Beach: Oh, yeah. We're gonna have a whole marketing plan in the New Year. I think a lot of people are gonna love it. What's cool about the Squad is that we are basically the first kind of villains that are the film. Nobody's ever seen it before, so there's this smack-in-the-face of viewers to say, "Oh my God! This has never been done before." It's very dark. It's very funny at the same time.
And a lot of people, when we did Comic-Con, they were just like, "Oh my God!" Even the Batman v Superman team, when we were working together, they were like, "We want to be on your team because you were given the opportunity to just be as badass or bad boys, and just off the cuff, just be loose cannons, and not so prim and proper." We got in an elevator with the Batman/Superman crew and Will Smith stands up, "Okay. This is gonna be it right now. Let's do this," without joining a fistfight.
Everybody laughed because that's what we represent, the Bad Boy Club.
TMN: I imagine it might be hard for any other characters to stand out when everyone's talking about The Joker and Harley.
Beach: Oh, dude, when you see those guys paired together, it's chemistry where you're like, "Oh my God!" I get goosebumps because seeing them work together and seeing Harley in her character, and then seeing The Joker do his psychotic behavior, it's just... Oh my God, we have an amazing film!
Just in regards to the people like myself, I'm a comic book fan. You know, with Star Wars coming up, there's a huge fan base for that. And finding out there's a huge fan base for the villains of DC Comics, we're like, "Yeah! This is the way to roll out the comic book movie, man."
TMN: In any kind of movie, whether a big comic book film or an independent movie with Native Americans, how careful is the line between honoring the culture and perhaps being seen as stereotyping it?
Beach: Well, there's a romanticism of Native Americans that started back in the day when people first arrived here in North America. There's these spiritual, cultural, traditional values that still exist to this day. That timeline hasn't changed. We're still doing ceremonies. We're still doing our drum songs to the trees, the water. We're still offering tobacco for the beauty of our lives. I carry a traditional pipe and I still do all those ceremonies. So it's still vibrant today.
It's just some people wanted to start it and keep on this romantic, Western, good guys/bad guys, cowboys and the savage Indians. There's this war cry. When you really research and find out who we are, we were, and are, still a beautiful people. Peoples.
And we will continue that. We will honor Mother Earth. We will honor the respect of our families and our clans, and I'm a bear clan. Leading Bear Man is my name. So when I sing to the Creator, I honor my ancestors. I honor me, I honor my families. It's beautiful.
TMN: More and more people have been vocal about having better representation for women, African Americans, and other minorities on screen. Do you think there's been quite as much vocal support for Native Americans on those lines, as well?
Beach: Well, what I can say is, it's up to the individual to create their portrayal and what they want to do. And I feel that you'll always find a Hollywood film that will want to appeal to the more savage Indian, the more drunken Indian. That victim stereotype kind of thing.
A lot of my friends, we're trying to put together a new light into filmmaking because we don't live in the old Western anymore. We're lawyers, doctors, cops and robbers. So we're trying to emulate a more up-to-date image of who we are. But you'll never get rid of that romanticism.
There's a beauty in the Western culture when it comes to cowboys and Indians that is a freedom of the one cabin in the prairie and the roaming buffalo. It's beautiful. So we'll always find something wrong with something, man.
(Adam Beach in Windtalkers)