Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
“I find myself searching for the right characters and the right stories. I think Native cinema right now is booming. We are taking control of our voice and the image of who we are, which is important. The world needs to see us in the image of the way we see ourselves. I have been over the years trying to do roles that show us as people in society and not just a Hollywood Indian, a romanticized Indian.” Adam Beach
Golden Globe nominated Canadian born actor Adam Beach picked up his nomination for his portrayal of the Sioux advocate, author and medical doctor Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa) in the HBO TV movie adaptation of Dee Brown's book “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” (2007). The role also brought him a NAMIC Vision Award and an Image nomination. Starting his career in Canadian TV and theater productions in the early 1990s, he rose to fame portraying Frank Fencepost in Bruce McDonald's hit “Dance Me Outside” (1994), where he received an American Indian Movie Award. He gained further attention in the Chris Eyre critically acclaimed “Smoke Signals” (1998), where he was cast in the starring role of Victor Joseph. Beach also played Kicking Wing in the David Spade hit comedy “Joe Dirt” (2001), Private Ben Yahzee in John Woo's “Windtalkers” (2002, with Nicolas Cage and Christian Slater), Jim Chee in the PBS trilogy “Skinwalkers” (2002), “Coyote Waits” (2003) and “A Thief of Time” (2004), Ira Hayes in Clint Eastwood's “Flags of Our Fathers” (2006, netted a Broadcast Film Critics Association and Satellite nomination), Blue Duck in the CBS miniseries “Comanche Moon” (2008) and Detective Chester Lake in the NBC drama series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (2007-2008).
Beach is a father of three. He has two sons with first wife Meredith Porter (married from 1999 to 2002) and a daughter with his girlfriend. He and his second wife, Tara Mason, separated in 2007 after having been together for four years.
Childhood and Family:
Born Adam Ruebin Beach on November 11, 1972, in Ashern, Manitoba, Canada, Adam Beach and his family lived on the Dog Creek First Nations Reserve until his parents' deaths when he was 8 years old. His mother was 8 months pregnant when she was killed by a drunk driver in front of their home. Months later, his father drowned himself because of depression. After the tragic loss, Adam became angry and in order to release his frustrations, became involved in a street gang. Eventually, he discovered acting.
Adam and his two brothers went to live with relatives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he attended Gordon Bell High School and became a member of the school drama club. He later quit school to pursue a career in acting. While still in high school, he also founded a garage band called Lethic, which did covers of Black Sabbath songs.
In February 1996, Adam and his companion, Meredith Porter, had a son named Noah Porter. Their second son, Luke Porter, was born in January 1998. They eventually married in 1999, but divorced in 2002. Adam married second wife, Tara Mason, on July 5, 2003. They separated in late 2007. In October 2008, Adam had a baby girl named Phoenix Beach with his girlfriend Summer.
Adam plays electric bass guitar and is a fan of ice hockey. His favorite movie is Rob Reiner's “Stand by Me” (1986).
Adam is a member of the Saulteaux tribe.
After dropping out of high school, Adam Beach joined the Manitoba Theatre for Young People in Winnipeg. In 1990, he made his television movie debut in the Daytime Emmy Award winner “Lost in the Barrens.” He next played Paul LeBlanc in the drama “Spirit Rider” (1993), a TV movie based on a novel of the same name by Mary-Ellen Lang Collura, and Will in the independent film “Cadillac Girls” (also 1993), his feature film debut. Directed by Nicholas Kendall and starring Mia Kirshner, the latter won a Canadian Genie for Best Music Score.
Beach's first real breakthrough arrived when he was cast in the role of Frank Fencepost in the drama “Dance Me Outside” (1994), which was written and directed by Bruce McDonald. Premiering at the Toronto Film Festival in September 1994, the film was a hit with audiences and Beach won an American Indian Movie Award for Best Actor at the 1985 American Indian Film Festival. The success of the film led to the creation of the TV series spin off “The Rez” in 1996, in which he was cast as Charlie, the chief's son, and his Frank Fencepost role was given to actor Darrel Dennis.
Following “Dance With Me,” Beach starred in Disney's live action film “Squanto: A Warrior's Tale” (1994) and as Noel in the Canadian short film “Prey” (1995). He also received a supporting role in Mitch Marcus' drama “A Boy Called Hate,” which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 1995 and was released in the U.S. in May 1996. Costars of the latter film included Scott Caan, James Caan, Missy Crider and Elliott Gould. He also costarred with Vinessa Shaw in the Hollywood adventure “Coyote Summer” (1996) for director Matias Alvarez and writer Karen Krenis. On the small screen, in addition to working on “The Rez,” Beach had a recurring role on the CBC series “North of 60” in 1993 and then in 1995, appeared in the CBS Schoolbreak Special “My Indian Summer” (1995). He also guest starred in TV shows like “Walker, Texas Ranger” (1995), “Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years” and “Touched by an Angel” (both 1996).
Beach next offered a fine supporting turn as Chibiabos in the Canadian film “Song Of Hiawatha,” which was directed by Jeffrey Shore and written by Earl W. Wallace. He then had the memorable recurring role of Kyle in three episodes of the Canadian TV series “Madison” (both 1997). However, it was his portrayal of Victor Joseph, an aggressive basketball player with a brooding temperament, in the independent feature “Smoke Signals” (1998) that brought the actor wide recognition. Directed by Chris Eyre and written by Sherman Alexie, the comedy premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival on January 16, 1998, and won the Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy in the Dramatic category. “Smoke Signals” marked the first film completely produced, directed, written and acted in by Native Americans and became Beach's Hollywood calling card. The next year, he was cast alongside Russell Crowe, Hank Azaria, Mary McCormack and Burt Reynolds in the movie “Mystery, Alaska.”
Entering the new millennium, Beach could be seen in the Canadian films “The Last Stop” (2000), “The Art of Woo” (2001), “Posers” (2002) and Bob Clark's “Now & Forever” (2002, opposite Mia Kirshner). He returned to Hollywood in “Joe Dirt” (2001), a comedy directed by Dennie Gordon and starring David Spade in the title role. In the movie, he played Joe Dirt's sidekick, Kicking Wing. He was next hired to costar with top names Nicolas Cage and Christian Slater in John Woo's “Windtalkers” (2002). As Private Ben Yahzee, a Navajo soldier employed by the U.S. Army, Beach had to learn the Navajo language in preparation for his role.
Still in 2002, Beach was reunited with Chris Eyre for the PBS TV film “Skinwalkers,” which was adapted from the mystery novel by Tony Hillerman and produced by Robert Redford. In the movie, he costarred as Wes Studi's partner, Jim Chee. He went on to reprise his role in the sequels “Coyote Waits” (2003) and “A Thief of Time” (2004), which was helmed by Jan Egleson and Chris Eyre, respectively. Beach also had roles in such movies as Steve Anderson's “The Big Empty” (opposite Jon Favreau, Joey Lauren Adams, Bud Cort and Daryl Hannah), “Cowboys and Indians: The J.J. Harper Story” (both 2003) and Andreas Kidess' “Sawtooth” (2004) and was seen in the TV series “Everwood” (1 episode, 2003), “Third Watch” (2 episodes, 2003-2004) and “JAG” (1 episode, 2004).
After an unaccredited part in John Singleton's “Four Brothers” (2005), which starred Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, André Benjamin and Garrett Hedlund, Beach landed the role of WWII soldier Ira Hayes in “Flags of Our Fathers” (2006), which was directed by Clint Eastwood and co-produced by Eastwood with Steven Spielberg. Based on the book of the same name by James Bradley and Ron Powers, the war film earned rave reviews but was considered a box office disappointment. For his good acting job, Beach was nominated for Broadcast Film Critics Association's Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Satellite Award in the same category.
Beach gained further recognition the next year with his Golden Globe nominated portrayal of the Sioux advocate, author and medical doctor Charles Eastman in the HBO movie “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” adapted from the book of the same name by Dee Brown. Under the direction of Yves Simoneau, he was also handed a NAMIC Vision Award for Best Performance - Drama and an Image nomination in the category of Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special. In addition, he joined the cast of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” as Detective Chester Lake for the ninth season after guest starring in season eight. He was then honored with the Rising Star Award at the 2007 Palm Springs International Film Festival. In his native Canada, Beach starred as George Keeshig in the TV series “Moose TV” and Mike Maquinna in the Gemini nominated TV film “Luna: Spirit of the Whale” (also 2007).
Next, Beach worked with Raven Bellefleur, Chris Carlson, Bradley Cooper and his “Skinwalkers” costar, Wes Studi, in “Older Than America” (2008), a drama film directed by Georgina Lightning. He then costarred with Troy Baker and Elizabeth Banks in the TV miniseries “Comanche Moon” (CBS, 2008) and voiced Turok in the direct-to-video animated film “Turok: Son of Stone” (2008). Still that year, he played Max in the short film “Help” and made a guest appearance in “Wapos Bay: The Series.”
Beach has completed filming “Warrior” (2009), for director Michael F. Sears and screenwriter Martin Dugard. The cast of the film also includes Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Cary Elwes, Gabrielle Anwar, William Mapother and Aaron Hill. He is rumored to have a role in the thriller “The Stranger,” which is scheduled for a 2010 release.
NAMIC Vision: Best Performance - Drama, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” 2008
Palm Springs International Film Festival: Rising Star Award, 2007
American Indian Film Festival: American Indian Movie Award, Best Actor, “Dance Me Outside,” 1995