Prominent Native American actor Adam Beach has agreed to take the leading role in an upcoming feature film about the Hominy Indians, a barnstorming football team of the 1920s, an executive with a West Coast movie production company said.
The 40-year-old Canadian will both narrate and star in “Playground of the Native Son,” said Celia Xavier, the Los Angeles-based producer who is writing a screenplay for the movie. Her company, Fully Funded Films, has been involved with the Hominy Indians project for more than a year.
A film crew was brought to the Bartlesville area last November and December to shoot footage for a docu-drama about the legendary, all-Indian football squad. Final editing currently is underway on the documentary portion of the project, Xavier said.
According to the producer, the docu-drama will be submitted late this month for consideration by film festival judges.
“Then, public screenings can be offered in November or by January — sorry, but these are festival guidelines,” Xavier said of the film, which has been much anticipated in northeastern Oklahoma due to the team’s historic connection with Osage County. “There also may be a Tulsa screening of the trailers, which show a lot of footage shot in December.”
Shooting of the feature film is expected to begin next year in Los Angeles, Xavier said. The movie will be directed by Michael Nash, she added.
Players representing more than 20 different American Indian tribes took the field for the Hominy football team during its decade of existence (from 1925 to the early 1930s). The squad compiled several double-digit win streaks.
And, in December 1927, the semi-professional Indians recorded a stunning upset victory over professional football’s reigning champions, the New York Giants.
That historic 13-6 contest was played at Pawhuska.
Beach — a First Nations’ member of the Saulteaux (Ojibwa) tribe — is known for work on television as well as the big screen. Some of his movie roles have included: WWII Marine Ira Hayes in “Flags of Our Fathers,” Pvt. Ben Yahzee in “Windtalkers,” Kickin’ Wing in “Joe Dirt,” and Officer Jim Chee in the film adaptations of “Skinwalkers,” “Coyote Waits” and “A Thief of Time.”
Clint Eastwood’s 2006 movie, “Flags of Our Fathers,” which won two Academy Award nominations, earned Beach multiple best supporting-actor honors. More recently, in 2011, he starred in “Cowboys & Aliens,” an American science fiction Western film directed by Jon Favreau and starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde.
Beach also has had considerable previous success in productions by independent studios. He portrayed Victor in the critically-acclaimed 1998 movie “Smoke Signals,” which was directed by Chris Eyre — who also created the “Skinwalkers” series.
On television, Beach appeared as Tommy in “Walker, Texas Ranger” and Chester Lake in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” In 2007, he portrayed Lakota physician Dr. Charles Eastman in the HBO Films’ adaption of Dee Brown’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.” Beach currently is in his third season starring in the Canadian TV dramatic series “Arctic Air.”
Beach also is a motivational speaker who has created a foundation that provides alcohol counseling and suicide-prevention programs for troubled Native American youth.
The actor spent his early years on the Lake Manitoba/Dog Creek First Nation Reserve at Lake Manitoba. Beach was 8 years old when his pregnant mother was killed by a drunk driver. Eight weeks later, his father died by drowning. He and his two brothers were raised by various relatives before Beach earned his first acting role at age 18.