Navigation Bar - Text Links at Bottom of Page


The Characters
Once Windtalkers' pre-production was underway, casting became the next important step. Years earlier while filming Face/Off, Woo had enjoyed a very cohesive working relationship with actor Nicolas Cage (a Best Actor OscarĀ®-winner for Leaving Las Vegas, another MGM film). He immediately thought of him for Windtalkers' lead role. Cage became the first actor to jump on board, eagerly embracing the chance to work again with the famed director. "John is the ultimate auteur," says Cage. "His vision is a world I want to work in. He's very trusting and collaborative with actors. I also believe he likes to work in extremes - his vision is extreme and so is mine."

These similar sensibilities worked well in fleshing out the character of Joe Enders, a war-weary Marine who's been dehumanized by his experiences in battle. "Enders is shell-shocked, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder," says Cage. "He's been through horrible experiences in the war and he's lost his innocence. He's probably the most unhappy character I've ever played."

"The role of Enders is incredibly complicated," says Graham. "He's a good Marine who's willing to follow orders, which is why he's chosen for the code talker assignment. But it's also precisely because he follows orders that he lost so many men in a previous battle in the Solomon Islands. He did what he was told and it led to a catastrophe he's still trying to deal with, both emotionally and physically."

When the film opens, Enders is anxious to return to the front, despite having been wounded in the same battle where his squad was killed - he took a blow to his head that severely damaged one of his ears. Rita, a nurse at the hospital who's been tending to his wounds, helps Enders fake a hearing test that will allow him to get back to the war.

Enders' new assignment is hardly what he had envisioned, however. Because of his unwavering ability to follow orders, Enders is chosen to serve as a guard for a Navajo Indian who has been trained to transmit messages in a secret military code based on the Navajo language. Cage says, "It's a double-edged sword. We're required to protect the code talker, but also to protect the code. Throughout the film, Enders wrestles the possibility of having to carry out his orders."

Ben Yahzee is Enders' assigned charge. A new recruit who only recently left the peaceful surroundings of the Navajo reservation, Yahzee exudes a sense of balance and calm, spiritually guided by the teachings of his culture. Unlike Enders, his spirit has yet to be polluted by war. Yahzee quickly learns, however, how brutal war can be.

After an extensive search for a Navajo actor to play the part, the filmmakers decided Adam Beach would be perfect, a Native American from Canada who embodied many of Yahzee's characteristics. Chang had spotted Beach in the independent film Smoke Signals and felt he had the power and talent to play opposite Cage.

"Casting Yahzee was difficult," Chang continues. "We needed an actor to carry one of the two leading roles, and the best person for that role was Adam. The Navajo Nation gave us its blessing to cast Adam, though he is non-Navajo, as he is 100% Native American."

In discussing his character, Beach says, "Yahzee is an intelligent Marine, but he learns in battle that he's not very good at killing people." Yahzee seeks a friendship with Enders, but Enders isn't interested - he doesn't want to complicate his mission.

Eventually, however, the stress of battle brings them together. "Through Enders," Beach says, "Yahzee finds the strength to focus on his unit and mission and not worry about what's in front of him. He also learns the power of bonding with others."

He doesn't get through the exper

Next Production Note Section


Home | Theaters | Video | TV

Your Comments and Suggestions are Always Welcome.

© 2018 22®,  All Rights Reserved.


Find:  HELP!