CHRISTIAN SLATER (Ox
Its an interesting subject and its taken a long time to be
told. The script was a history lesson for me. I didnt have any idea about
the Navajos contribution to helping us turn the tide and really win the
The Navajo leaders really wanted us to use Navajo actors. We interviewed
over 400 Navajo young people (but) couldnt find any actors, because they
had no experience. A friend of mine showed me one of Adam Beachs movies
called Smoke Signals, and I said, Wow, this is the guy. In
the old Westerns, the Indians seemed stiff and faceless. We never knew how they
felt. We never saw them laugh or cry. I wanted to change that kind of image. I
wanted to put real people on the screen, and I was so happy with Adam because
he looked so natural.
ADAM BEACH (Ben Yahzee):
As a kid I heard the story of the Navajo language used as a code. But I
never knew the extent of it until I did this film. After their six months
training, they had to memorize it and throw away the book, and then they had to
do it (on the battlefield) seeing all the horrific views of war (around them).
That blows me away.
NICOLAS CAGE (Joe Enders):
Enders is shell-shocked, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Hes been through horrible experiences in the war, and hes lost his
innocence. Hes probably the most unhappy character Ive ever
I enjoyed playing Ox. I really liked the heart and the soul of the
character, and playing the opposite side of the coin to Nics character,
who is a lot darker and a lot more war weary.
ADAM BEACH on authentically
representing the Navajo race:
What I found most difficult was the language, because the Navajo language
is the hardest language of all nations in North America. I had to learn it in
six months. I found myself realizing the importance of ones language.
Thats one thing I took away from this film, the moral value of looking
into my culture and passing it on.
John Woo is the ultimate auteur. His vision is a world I want to work in.
Hes very trusting and collaborative with actors. I also believe he likes
to work in extremes his vision is extreme and so is mine.
For me going to boot camp (for the film) was really interesting because
it gave me a glimpse of how the military works. They put us in the same
uniforms and we all slept in a big barracks with sixty other guys. It stripped
away individuality and it made us one unit. I think my performance would have
been less authentic if I hadnt done the boot camp. It helped me to really
feel like I could honestly inhabit the uniform and get a sense of the
patriotism of being a Marine.
What they really learned about in boot camp was brotherhood. I remember
the first day we shot the big battle scene at Saipan; it was so touching. There
were 280 bombs in the field and over 1,000 extras charging, fighting and
firing. I wanted the stunt doubles for the actors for the wide-shots, but the
actors all refused. I said, No one will see your faces. They
didnt care. I was so moved. (He laughs) It seemed they wanted to die for