Actor Adam Beach wiped away tears as he spoke in Winnipeg Thursday about the honour of portraying Canadian aboriginal war hero Tommy Prince in an upcoming film.
"I'm going to be bringing forth a hero that I hope a 16-year-old will recognize and actually step up and say, 'I want to be a hero also,'" he said.
"So that's where all this flooding of emotion comes," said Beach, a Manitoba-born aboriginal. He was at the Thunderbird House on Main Street to make the formal announcement about the movie.
The film and TV star was flanked by Prince's relatives, Manitoba aboriginal leaders, and representatives from Vancouver-based Bay Film Studios.
Beach, 37, said he hopes the movie will help fight negative stereotypes of aboriginals.
'It's like I get to play a Captain America.'—Actor Adam Beach
"History has created a timeline for our people that shows defeat, struggle, famine, residential schools and it's left us with generations that are picking up the pieces," he said.
"I want to introduce the timeline that has not stopped, that has not changed — that's our culture and traditions."
Prince, from Manitoba's Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, was a hero of both the Second World War and the Korean War and is Canada's most highly decorated First Nations soldier.
Beach said the role is a chance to play one of his idols.
"It's like I get to play a Captain America," he said. "I hope that I can put my heart and soul into someone that needs to be seen in that hero quality."
Movie due out 2011
Tommy Prince: Prince of the Devils will focus on Prince's experiences fighting in the Second World War.
Daring actions by Prince's unit behind enemy lines prompted German soldiers to call it "the Devil's Brigade."
After being honourably discharged, Prince was decorated by King George VI at Buckingham Palace with both the Military Medal and, on behalf of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Silver Star with ribbon.
He died in 1977 at the age 62 and is buried in the Field of Honour at Winnipeg's Brookside Cemetery.
The Canadian military is helping to ensure the action scenes are accurate, and Prince's remaining family members have given the film their blessing as well.
The movie will debut during next year's film festival season and should hit theatres sometime in 2011.