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This article was published 29/7/2011 (3991 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
On the phone from Los Angeles, former Winnipegger Adam Beach is on his way to pick up his daughter in Santa Monica, delightedly talking about Harrison Ford.
In an acting career that began two decades ago in a drama class at Gordon Bell High School, Beach has found himself working with some of the biggest screen icons of the last 40 years, including Clint Eastwood (who directed Beach in Flags of Our Fathers) Russell Crowe and Burt Reynolds (the latter actor gifted Beach with a watch while working on Mystery, Alaska) and now Ford, who plays a prickly father figure to Beach's character Nate Colorado in Cowboys & Aliens, which opened in theatres yesterday.
"He's always aware, he doesn't miss a beat and at the same time, he knows exactly what's going on in the movie," Beach says of Ford. "Just watching him, I could tell that this guy knows every aspect of filmmaking."
For a summer action movie, Cowboys & Aliens has a hefty amount of emotional back story, especially for Beach, whose Apache character was adopted as a youth by Ford's crusty Col. Dolarhyde.
Beach, 38, lost both his parents within an eight-week period when he was just eight-years-old, and he says he used that history to get into the headspace of Nate, who quietly reveres Dolarhyde.
"My father passed at a young age," Beach says. "I just adapted that by looking at (Ford) at all times, longing for that father.
"With our characters, I'm always looking for his approval but he's such an ass, I've got to take the brunt (of his temper). But who wouldn't want Harrison Ford as a father, you know what I mean?"
Beach says he didn't have to fight for the role, as the film's director Jon Favreau has been a pal for 10 years.
"We worked on a (2003) movie called The Big Empty, so when they were casting the movie, he already was saying, 'Adam's the guy. I don't want anybody else. You can look as much as you want but Adam is the most experienced guy out there.'"
Even with that relationship, Beach says he quickly learned he wasn't going to get an easy ride from Favreau when it came time to shoot a scene in which Colorado watches Dolarhyde's son Percy (Paul Dano) terrorize a town.
"Jon took us together and said, 'All right guys, if that's what you guys are gonna do, we should pack up our bags right now and go home, because that's not going to work for this movie,'" Beach says.
"We were like: 'What? What are you talking about?' He said, 'All you guys are doing is playing bad, tough cowboys and that's boring. I hired you guys for a reason.
"So we got out of our elementary stage of playing the cowboys we played as kids, and say, 'OK we've got to make these characters real.'"
The film gave Beach the opportunity to work in the sci-fi realm, doing battle with monstrous seven-foot-tall alien creatures, which he found a kick.
"You're just working with these guys who are six feet tall with this orange ball on their heads," he says. "But the whole time, you're just in this world of: What the heck is going on? When I watch the movie now, I'm like: 'Oh my God, that looks crazy!'"