Interviews: Adam Beach - Star of Diablo and Suicide Squad

Adam Beach talks about Diablo, his role in Suicide Squad, his dream of a Turok movie, and that pesky Oregon militia. 

TMS: You've been acting for quite some time now. Since 1990, in fact. Cowboys and Aliens, Flags Of Our Fathers, Windtalkers, and many countless others. Would you say it gets any easier as time goes on? Do the projects come to you now?

AB: Yes. I'm pretty fortunate in my career with as many projects as I've done. And I've noticed that every year it seems to be more fluid with my performance because my growth as a personality and a person grows each year. I'm trying new stuff. I think that those years of experience have created a more natural flow. I wouldn't say it's easier. I would say that there are more ideas that I'm capable of handling all at once in the moment. And it depends on who you're working with. 

TMS: With your work on TV, movies, and working in different genres, what would you say your favorite medium is to work in?

AB: I like feature films. They're better as a workplace because you're able to spend more time with the character and the scene and work with the crew to make the shot the best it can be. You can make subtle changes. When you're doing a TV show you're very much on a time limit. You only have 8-10 days of shooting an episode so you can't spend that beautiful time of essence to create the best scene possible because you're on the move to the next scene. They're both separate in their own ways. What's happening with television now is that they are taking the traditional television model and changing it because of Netflix and other models that are doing these episodic adventures.  They're shooting like a feature film so they're not dependent on a sixty minute TV show. What they're doing is writing out these amazing scenes, character development, etc.. They've changed the dynamic of how we watch television. 

And movies, well, you hope to get on a studio film to get a good pay day. The independent thing has been kind of lackluster because of the new television models. So, independents are really independent. 

TMS: What would you say was different about working on Diablo?

AB: Well, what was great about it was the creativity with the actor/writer/director..... We were all in sync with each other. We were in no rush. We talked about what we wanted. If we felt in that moment that it didn't work, we'd change it or add different dialog. When I was using the Cree language, I was able to say 'Let's shorten this, man. It's getting too long. Too wordy. Let's just make it simple'. That was the beauty of Diablo. It was that old school essence of let's make something real and focus on that, the reality of it. Working with Lawrence and Scott (one of my good friends), it just felt like family. 

TMS: Westerns have been a Hollywood mainstay for quite a long time now. Since the advent of film for the most part, we've been watching Westerns. Yet, they seem to come and go. In the last couple years, they've made a pretty big comeback. Diablo, Bone Tomahawk, The Hateful Eight (which doesn't completely qualify as a Western). Why do you think they're making such a big comeback again?

AB: I don't think it's making a comeback. I think the Western genre is always there in different formats of different ideas in film. If you look at Star Wars, that's a Western genre film. If you look at Cowboys and Aliens, they were searching for a new way to do Westerns.  I think you can find it in a lot of films. It just so happens at certain times that somebody comes up creatively with a new idea that works and they're going to test the model out. So, Tarantino's Hateful Eight..... here's his take of 'I've got to do a Western my style' and I think it works. 

You're always going to have this romanticism of a time and place when everybody was living the dream. Time was not about technology. What are we doing now? 9-5 jobs. They were working the land and taking care of their families....with a six shooter at their side. It's always gonna be something everybody wants to see. 

There's been the attempts at the comedy Western. You're going to have your typical savage Indian Western. Then you're gonna have your Diablo, that really sneaks into the Civil War.

TMS: So, what would you say is your favorite Western?

AB: Oh. My. Favorite? Oh. My. God. That's going down a good list. I would say anything Clint Eastwood is in, man. He's done a LOT of good Westerns. I could watch Clint Eastwood doing a Western any time.

Adam as Slipknot in Suicide Squad
TMS: I know we're mainly discussing Diablo, but you're playing Slipknot in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. What's it like transitioning from a smaller budget film to something with a massive budget?

AB: My gosh. One is just the endless possibilities. The creativity. These guys are planning and drawing and creating and changing. When I went in to put on my character costume, it was designed a certain way. When I put it on, they were like 'Nah. It's not gonna work. Let's try it again'.  It went down right til the day we were shooting and they're like 'Okay. I think we got it'.

The elaborate sets that they set up. Everything was done in a studio. When we showed up on set we were all like 'Oh my god! We're gonna throw up'. It's real actual stuff that they built. These guys are geniuses. 

We could spend one day filming one thing to make it the best. That's the beauty of a big budget. They could just say 'We're gonna add to this tomorrow because we came up with another plan'. You can't beat that. 

TMS: So, I have to ask. I'm a huge Jared Leto fan. What's it like working with him?

AB: What he was doing on camera gave me the chills and the goosebumps because everything he did was absolutely amazing. Even when he paused to be like 'I want to do that again' or when David would give him a suggestion it was just in the moment. It's like the guy didn't turn it off. It was absolutely beautiful. And it just empowered everybody else to bring their A-game because this guy was going to a level we needed to see. The guy is talented. And he was given the affinity to stretch it. 
I think they made a good choice with him as The Joker. 

TMS: If you had one movie you could pick, what would be Adam Beach's dream project?

AB: Turok, The Dinosaur Hunter!!!!!

TMS: Aha! You did the voice on the video game.

AB: I was originally going to shoot it with John Woo. After Windtalkers we were getting the script written.  John Woo asked me that same question and I told him Turok. He wasn't messing around, man. We ended up getting all the people that owned the rights to Turok. My buddy Hayden Christensen jumped on board. We got investors. We got our writer. That first writer failed to put together a script. I went into my little basement to hack out a new script idea. John wanted me to be the guy leading the force and they didn't want that.  And then it just all fell apart. We just couldn't pick the pieces up again so I'm hoping that one of these years I'll get back to it and write a killer script that everyone can work on. 

TMS: With the advent of all this new technology, they could do an amalgamation of practical effects and CGI. It would look amazing. Like what they just did with The Force Awakens visuals, this could be a bad ass project. I'd imagine there's still a pretty big following for Turok. There's a Warcraft movie coming out, so I've got to imagine there'd be some interest in Turok

AB: In the next month or so I'm going follow up with everybody to see if we can get back into making that a possibility. We'll see what happens. 

TMS: What else would you want to tell people about Diablo?

suicide squad
AB: With Diablo I find that it triggers a look into a period of film making that no one's really entered before where if you look at it from a white perspective, it's the white guy who's the trauma victim. It's not the native American who's the victim or the weak one, not the bad guy. It's very much a role reversal. It's one of those steps that Hollywood has to make when it comes to redesigning this cultural genocide when it comes to making films about Indians. We were always the savage. We were always the bad guy. It was horrific,  when we were harmonious with everything around us. I hope a lot of people can respond to that but also just realize that there is a perspective of history that needs to be changed and we're hopefully changing it. 

TMS: It's funny that you bring this up with this whole Oregon thing that's going on right now. It's not really their land. That's land that the white man stole hundreds of years ago from Native Americans. 

AB: You can't argue with that. People just want to forget that we'd been here before any immigration had presented itself in this country. It's historical amnesia. It's denial. 

TMS:  Where can people check out Diablo?

AB: There's a few select theaters. I know there's one in Phoenix. It's across the country in some limited theaters. And I know it's going video on demand. I'm taking the film to northern Canada to reservations that don't have access to movie theaters. I run a distribution company up there that brings movies to isolated reservations. We're trying to share the world perspective with communities that don't have access. 

We thank Adam for taking the time to talk to us.