BIRTHPLACE Manitoba, Canada
Despite a star slot in Disney's 1994 adventure Squanto: A Warrior's Tale, great notices for 1998's Sundance fave Smoke Signals, and lots of next-big-thing buzz leading up to Windtalkers the 2002 John Woo movie about the use of the Navajo language as unbreakable code in WWII Beach has never clicked in a breakthrough part. That may be about to change for the Saulteaux tribe member. He's got a showcase role in Flags of Our Fathers as the haunted, alcoholic WWII Marine Ira Hayes. ''People have been telling me, 'This is the tidal wave that only happens once, so enjoy it.'''
URGE TO EMPATHY
When he was 8, living on Manitoba's Dog Creek Indian Reserve, Beach's life imploded. His mother, eight months pregnant, was killed by a drunk driver in front of the family's home. Two months later, his father drowned, leaving Adam to move in with relatives in Winnipeg. ''When something like that happens, you carry this feeling of abandonment,'' he says. He hit on acting by chance as a form of relief after discovering Johnny Depp on 21 Jump Street in adolescence. ''He was playing different characters, and that tapped into my wanting to be somebody else.''
He's currently filming Luna: The Way Home, about a whale stuck in a bay. He'd also like to shoot a public-service spot against drunk driving, and he's running for chief of his 800-member tribe. ''I'll find out in a month if I'm elected,'' he says. By fall's end, he'll also know whether he's at last a Hollywood player.