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CNN LARRY KING WEEKEND

Interview With "Windtalkers" Cast and Real Life Code Talkers

Aired June 8, 2002 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(VIDEO CLIP OF "WINDTALKERS")

LARRY KING, LARRY KING WEEKEND: Tonight, a top secret story from World War II, Navajo warriors using their own language as code against the Japanese. We'll talk with real life code men, true American heroes. Their secret courage has inspired a compelling new movie "Windtalkers." All that and more next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

We have a terrific show for you tonight about a terrific movie. The movie will open next Friday, June 14. I have seen it in advance, and let me tell you, it's one of the great war movies ever made. It is spectacularly done, incredibly filmed and will touch your heart.

We welcome to LARRY KING WEEKEND here in our studios in New York, Roy Hawthorne and Chester Nez. Roy and Chester, both Windtalkers, they were part of the story about them and others in this incredible movie.

Joining us in Washington is Benis Frank, retired United States Marine Corp Chief Historian, has interviewed many of the Windtalkers; Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, who sponsored the bill to recognize the Code Talkers' war efforts, and they were honored by President Bush; and Mike Jacobs, former Director, Information Assurances Directorate, the department that makes codes for the military.

Later, we'll be joined by the stars of the film: Nicolas Cage, Christian Slater, Adam Beach, and the brilliant director John Woo.

To give you an idea what this is about, we're going to show you a scene from the film and then get into it. Here is a scene from "Windtalkers."

(VIDEO CLIP OF "WINDTALKERS")

KING: After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, it had become clear that they had broken the American code, and so 29 Navajos who had began this group developing a code in the Navajo language to communicate top secret military messages all over the South Pacific. Benis Frank, who's idea was this? How was it put together?

BENIS FRANK, RETIRED CHIEF HISTORIAN, U.S. MARINE CORPS: There was a civil engineer who worked for the City of Los Angeles. He happened to be the son of a missionary to the Navajo nation and he grew up with the Navajo boys and so on to a point where he spoke it perfectly.

He was a veteran of World War I and one night he heard a radio program talking about the problems with maintaining communication security over land lines and radios, and he thought that would be a perfect opportunity to use Navajos to speak code.

They would be able to speak, pass their messages much more quickly than the Marines, the white Marines who would have to write to encrypt the code, pass it, and then have to be decrypted on the other side. So, it was a very good idea, and the test they did for General Volvo (ph), they took 30 seconds to do what it took 30 minutes for the Marines to do.

KING: And the story is told wonderfully in this film. Roy, how were you enlisted into the Windtalkers?

ROY HAWTHORNE, REAL LIFE WORLD WAR II WINDTALKER: I volunteered.

KING: How did they get in touch with you? How did you know about them?

HAWTHORNE: Well, I didn't really know about the Code Talkers. I didn't know anything about the Marine Corps or any military thing, but I had read about submarines from Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."

KING: "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."

HAWTHORNE: Yes, and I wanted to be a submariner, so when I got of sufficient age, which was 17 for me, I volunteered but I was told all Navajo males going into the service at that time, by federal legislation, had to go into the Marine Corps and that's how I became a marine.

KING: And how, Chester -- and where were you raised, by the way, Navajo Indian, in what?

HAWTHORNE: I was raised on the Navajo reservation west of Gallup, New Mexico.

KING: We don't use the term Indian, do we? They're Native American Navajo.

HAWTHORNE: We don't object to being called Indians.

KING: Chester, how did you get into the service?

CHESTER NEZ, REAL LIFE WORLD WAR II WINDTALKER: I was going to school at Chirpa City (ph) in Arizona, northern part of Arizona, and some of the recruiters from the Marine Corps came onto campus and they were looking for some young men to join the Marine Corps.

So I told my roommate, I said "Let's go and see what's on the other side of the hill," you know, and to see some of the adventure in the other part of the United States. That's how I got into the Marine Corps. KING: And then, of course, became a code breaker. Mike Jacobs, why have we taken so long to learn this story?

MIKE JACOBS, FORMER DIRECTOR OF INFORMATION ASSURANCES DIRECTORATE: Well, this story has actually been known for quite some time, and there have been several books written on the subject beginning back in the '60s.

But the early years following World War II, the success of the Native American code breakers, or code makers, was still somewhat sensitive, and so it was protected information for a period of time following the Second World War.

KING: Senator Bingaman, how did you latch on to it and get this bill together to recognize these guys?

SEN. JEFF BINGAMAN (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, it's a chapter of history in my State of New Mexico, which most people know about and which I've heard about all my life, and it seemed to me that the individuals who were still alive and the families of those who were deceased should be recognized to a greater extent than they had been.

So for that reason, we introduced legislation to grant a Congressional Gold Medal to the first 29 and a silver medal, Congressional Silver Medal to the remaining Navajo Code Talkers, and I think it has helped to bring attention to the issue and helped to educate people about the importance of this chapter in our history.

KING: Chester, you were one of the original 29, right?

NEZ: That's right. There were 29 of us young men at that time and we all had gotten along together and the Marine Corps accepted us as one of the youngest boys to join the Marine Corps, and we got along with the Marine Corps.

KING: Where were you sent?

NEZ: First, after we got out of boot camp, they sent us to another training area where we developed a code. From there, we got shipped out. I got shipped out to Guadal Canal in 1942.

KING: Wow. That was not an easy place to be in 1942.

NEZ: No, that was my first combat experience and there was a lot of suffering and a lot of the condition was real bad out there. I never expected something to run into like that.

KING: And the movie depicts it as well. Roy, when did you go in?

HAWTHORNE: I went in in 1943.

KING: And so you were part of the second group of the Windtalkers?

HAWTHORNE: Sort of like the second group. Actually, when I went in, groups weren't going in at that time, but we went in -- I went in as an individual, as others did.

KING: And where were you stationed? Where were you sent?

HAWTHORNE: Well, after Navajo Code School, Communications School, I was sent to, went to Pelileu (ph), and then Okinawa -- not Okinawa but Guadalcanal. My first combat experience was on Okinawa.

KING: The way it's depicted so graphically in the film, is that the way it was?

HAWTHORNE: That's very accurate.

KING: Realistic?

HAWTHORNE: Very accurate.

KING: We'll be back with more of "Windtalkers." It opens next Friday. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In all these wars and conflicts, Native Americans have served with the modesty and strength and quiet valor their tradition has always inspired. That tradition found full expression in the Code Talkers, in those absent and in those with us today. Gentlemen, your service inspires the respect and admiration of all Americans, and our gratitude is expressed for all time in the medals it is now my honor to present.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was a wonderful occasion. Chester, what was it like for you?

NEZ: That was one of the most beautiful things that ever happened to me to receive a Congressional Gold Medal from the President of the United States.

KING: And you got a silver one, Roy?

HAWTHORNE: Yes, sir, I did.

KING: That day too?

HAWTHORNE: No, it wasn't that day. It was last November in the Navajo Nation Capitol at Window Rock.

KING: Was it tough for you to come back, Roy, and not be able to talk about what you had done?

HAWTHORNE: Actually, it wasn't. It just seemed to be a natural thing.

KING: Not to talk about it? HAWTHORNE: Not to talk about it, yes.

KING: It didn't bother you, either?

NEZ: Well, it kind of bothered me for a long time after I got out of the service, and it was one of the hardest things to get readjusted to civilian life.

KING: I'll bet. Benis, these are true heroes, are they not? I mean in more ways than one.

FRANK: Yes, they are. But first, may I say, ya 'at 'eeh, to my fellow Marines.

HAWTHORNE: Ya 'at 'eeh.

NEZ: Ya 'at 'eeh.

KING: Which means what? Hello.

FRANK: It's a greeting, I'm told.

KING: But they are great heroes, aren't they, that finally get their due?

FRANK: Well, they're very much respected. I think there's a misconception that the code -- it was a Code Talker program, but as they graduated from the code school and communications school, they were sent out to the various divisions and battalions.

And so, they then belonged to those battalions, divisions and regiments and were recognized and were decorated as members of those units, and so it was very nice for the president to decorate them with a Congressional Gold Medal or Presidential Gold Medal. I don't recall what it is.

KING: Mike, were the Japanese very good at breaking codes?

JACOBS: Oh, the Japanese were quite good at breaking codes. Any of the modern nations in the 40s, and that would include the Germans as well as the United States and the British, were all quite good at breaking codes.

And the Japanese had had some success in breaking some of the tactical codes of the United States military early in the war and that was one of the motivations for going to a system like the Navajo Code Talkers that was unknown to the Japanese, since the Navajo language is an unwritten language or was at that particular point in time, it had not been studied very thoroughly by others outside of the Navajo Nation.

KING: And they never broke it?

JACOBS: To our knowledge, the code was never broken by the Japanese. They were frustrated by their ability to deal with a language that they had never heard. A second part of that question might well be, would they have, in time, broken it?

KING: Uh huh.

JACOBS: And I think the answer to that is yes, and it's a matter of study. It's a matter of associating a word that you don't understand with an event, and sooner or later you build a library of meanings or approximate meanings, and as you develop a better understanding of what you're hearing, you can begin to piece this puzzle together.

FRANK: Can I ...

KING: Yes, you can add, do you want to add something Benis?

FRANK: Yes, I was at a military history exchange in Tokyo several years ago. The topic was about Okinawa and the Japanese members of the exercise were all military officers, military historians, and I asked several of them had they ever heard of the Navajo Code and had they heard whether or not it had been broken, and it hadn't been.

KING: Senator Bingaman, you didn't have any trouble getting this bill through, did you?

BINGAMAN: Well, we didn't once we explained to the other members of the Senate what was involved. Senator Inouye helped get it added to the Defense Appropriation Bill in the year 2000, two years ago, and President Clinton signed it into law just before he left the presidency. So, it was passed by voice vote by the Senate as an add to the defense bill.

KING: Roy, was it difficult growing up in a language that was not written?

HAWTHORNE: Absolutely not. It didn't seem to have any drawbacks at all.

KING: When you went to school, you didn't write your language?

HAWTHORNE: We didn't write our language. In fact, we were forbidden to speak our language in school.

KING: Those were American-run schools, I mean ...

HAWTHORNE: That was right.

KING: I mean Anglo-run schools.

HAWTHORNE: Yes, by the federal government, and there was severe punishment if you spoke your language.

KING: The picture says it was difficult for you initially starting out, that the regular soldiers, the regular Marines didn't treat you as well as you might have expected, true?

NEZ: That's true. That's very true. At first, there was -- the troops didn't quite understand why we were there. After we got out of boot camp, they sent us to another training center. That's where we developed the code, and after completing the code, then everything that we went there with a different division, they had a lot of respect for the Navajo Code Talkers.

KING: So the Nicolas Cage character was a pretty good example of someone who at first resisted this, and then came to accept it?

NEZ: That's right.

KING: We'll be right back with more and then we'll be meeting the stars of the film as well. This is LARRY KING LIVE - LARRY KING WEEKEND, rather. "Windtalkers" opens next Friday the 14th. Please see it. We'll be right back.

(VIDEO CLIP "WINDTALKERS")

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP OF "WINDTALKERS)

KING: Senator Bingaman, what did you think of this film?

BINGAMAN: Larry, I didn't get to see it yet.

KING: Boy, you have a...

BINGAMAN: I'm looking forward to it.

KING: You have a thrill coming.

BINGAMAN: That's what I hear.

KING: Ben, have you seen it?

FRANK: No, I haven't either.

KING: Wow. Mike, have you seen it?

JACOBS: Yes, I have, Larry. I saw it a couple of weeks ago with my daughter.

KING: And?

JACOBS: Well, it's an action-packed film, you know. As with many John Woo films, there's a considerable amount of violence, pretty graphic. The storyline with respect to the Navajo Code Talkers is strong throughout the movie, and it does hold together reasonably well, but it is action-packed.

KING: I thought it was. Did you like it, Roy?

HAWTHORNE: I liked it. I thought it was very accurate in all of the action scenes. The storyline was really right on the button.

KING: That's the way the Navajos were treated and that's the way they performed eventually? HAWTHORNE: Yes. On the treatment of the Navajos, I think that varied from one unit to another unit. I never experienced that type of encounter.

KING: The scenes of the war were accurate, Chester?

NEZ: It was very accurate and based on a true story, and I give Mr. Woo a lot of credit to make a movie about the Navajo Code Talkers. It's an excellent picture.

KING: But some of those scenes of people being injured, that's just the way it happened?

NEZ: That's just the way I have seen it and experienced. It's a horrible thing to see something right there in action.

KING: Mike, is there still a lot of codes going around the world now?

JACOBS: Well, certainly, Larry. Code making is a responsibility of any government and they produce the codes today in both machine form and in paper form and those codes are used to protect classified information.

In the case of the United States Government, they're used to protect information that's of military significance. They're used to protect strategic information in terms of diplomatic and foreign engagement kinds of activities.

So they have a very widespread use today. Indeed, communication security today, a collective term if you will for all types of codes and ciphers, is probably more important than it has ever been in our history.

Our dependency today on network technology, which is globalized as we all know, has made the issue of security and privacy paramount. One needs to look at the Internet as a 500 million person party line, and any presumption of privacy or security is something that needs to be dealt with in an effective way.

KING: Would you gather, Benis, that the Navajo language is still around somewhere in code?

FRANK: Oh, yes. I don't know how many people outside the nation have learned the language. As was mentioned earlier, after the war IBM developed a ball for a Selectric typewriter and worked with the Navajo Nation to get a written Navajo language and that's part of the education now.

KING: Senator Bingaman, I imagine you represent Navajos in New Mexico. Can you speak it or understand it?

BINGAMAN: I can do neither. I wish I could, but every time I hear the Navajo language spoken, I can sympathize with the Japanese. It's very difficult to understand and, I'm sure, once it's turned into code, it's impossible to understand. KING: The actors who played the Navajos, Chester, how did they do?

NEZ: What's that?

KING: The actors who played the Navajos, were they good? We got one here coming, Adam Beach who was terrific, the star.

NEZ: Yes. I think those two Navajo Code Talkers that played in the movie, I could understand when they sent the message and received on the other end. I could understand and I could sit there and write it down myself, you know. I still remember it.

KING: That's pretty accurate.

NEZ: Pretty accurate. Very, very accurate.

KING: Were you consulted on the film, Roy?

HAWTHORNE: No. No, I wasn't.

KING: Did you find it accurate the way the Navajos were portrayed?

HAWTHORNE: I found it very accurate and the acting was really superb and I'd like to say a word about John Woo. I think John Woo did a terrific job in the editing.

KING: I am very anxious for Senator Bingaman and Mike Jacobs -- and Benis Frank to see it. Mike has seen it. We thank those for appearing with us in Washington. Roy and Chester are going to remain and when we come back, Nicolas Cage, Christian Slater and Adam Beach, three stars of the film and the director, John Woo, will join us. The film is "Windtalkers." I'm Larry King. It opens next Friday. We'll be right back.

(VIDEO CLIP OF "WINDTALKERS")

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP "WINDTALKERS")

KING: The film is "Windtalkers." It opens next Friday. Remaining with us are actual Windtalker Roy Hawthorne and another Windtalker who got the Gold Medal, one of the original 29 Code Talkers, Chester Nez. In L.A. is Nicolas Cage, the Oscar Award winning actor who plays the Marine Joe Enders (ph); Christian Slater, who plays the Marine Ox Anderson (ph); here in New York is Adam Beach, who plays Code Talker Ben Yazi (ph) and is sensational as well in this movie; and John Woo, the famed director and producer of "Windtalkers."

We'll start with Nick Cage. Nick and I, he reminded me share a dubious distinction. Back-to-back we were the Bacchus kings of the Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

NICOLAS CAGE, ACTOR: That's right. We're both kings of Bacchus. KING: We are. That aside, Nick, why did you take this complicated, difficult role?

CAGE: Well, first of all I wanted to be reunited with John Woo. I had a great experience on "Face Off," and second, I like movies that deal with people, especially people from different cultures coexisting and trying to get along.

So this was perfect, because it had the Navajo Nation, which I find really an incredible culture, and sort of Ben Yazi's (ph) character interacting with mine. I play your sort of basic, average Italian-American Marine who's trying to, you know, survive this horrible battle. So for me, that was an interesting script to participate in.

KING: And Adam Beach, why did you take it? Big role for you, this picture, I think Nick and Christian, would agree, this is going to make Adam Beach a star.

CAGE: Absolutely.

KING: What is your back - you're an actor, right? You appeared in movies?

ADAM BEACH, ACTOR: Yes, I've been an actor for about 11 years.

KING: How did you get this role?

BEACH: They gave me a call and I flew down, met with a partner of John's, Terence Chang (ph), read for him. Two days later, I met John and he took me out to lunch.

KING: Are you Native American?

BEACH: Yes, Soto Indian from Canada.

KING: You're not Navajo?

BEACH: No, I'm not.

KING: Did you enjoy playing this?

BEACH: Definitely, yes.

KING: Christian Slater, why did you take it?

CHRISTIAN SLATER, ACTOR: Well, just from the start when I read the script, opened the first page, it was really like a history lesson. I had no idea the influence that the Navajo Indians had during the war, so it really opened my eyes to this chapter of our history and, of course, working with John was a thrill and working with Nick was great also.

KING: All right, John Woo, why did you agree to do this movie?

JOHN WOO, DIRECTOR: Well about three years ago when the writers, John and Joe, they pitched this idea to me and they told me the whole story and the whole history, I was crying, you know, and I was deeply moved, you know, by the whole story, and also made me so much admire the other Code Talkers and Navajo people and I thought they were brave. They were loyal.

KING: It was a tough movie to do?

WOO: It was extremely tough since it was based on a true story, so I got to take it very seriously, and all the action sequences were pretty tough as well.

KING: Boy, I'll bet. You shot it where?

WOO: Hawaii and Los Angeles.

KING: Roy, how well did Adam do as a Navajo?

HAWTHORNE: Adam did real well. I think he's going to be a top- billed star.

KING: I think so too. I think this movie makes Adam Beach. How well did he do, Chester?

NEZ: I think he done a very perfect job.

KING: Nick, had you ever worked with Adam before?

CAGE: I had never worked with Adam before. This was my first experience with him. I know he's been doing it for 11 years. He's not really the beginner that some of the media has sort of panned him to be. He's worked very hard. He made a movie called "Smoke Signals" and he's a seasoned actor.

KING: What was it like when two actors who never worked together have to do these scenes together and they're first finding each other, Nick?

CAGE: Well, you know, one of the things is there was a lot of mutual respect there and it enabled us to give each other our space. You know when you act, you go into your own sort of like trance to try to make it seem real to you.

All actors use the theater of the imagination and so one of the most respectful things you can do is to give the actor you're working with their space to concentrate and focus, and we had that relationship. Of course, off camera, I enjoyed talking with Adam. He's a very charming man. He's a nice man and we went, had dinner. I met his family, so we had a good rapport.

KING: What was it like working with Nick, Adam?

BEACH: I owe a lot to that man. He's taught me -- I value my work a lot more, meaning I have a lot more passion for what I do. I think...

KING: He certainly has that. BEACH: Yes, the guy is -- it's -- I just want to say it's an honor to be working with him because he's given me ten years' experience and I've never met anyone who's so honest with his emotions.

KING: And John, Christian Slater is one of those actors that never lets you down, right?

WOO: Yes.

KING: He's always totally into who he's playing.

WOO: He's a wonderful actor.

KING: Have you directed him before?

WOO: Yes. We worked together in "Broken Arrow." He's so creative and very humble and very charming as well, you know. So it's always nice to work with a friend again.

KING: And both you guys like the work that John Woo does, right?

CAGE: Absolutely.

KING: What's special, Nick, about John Woo? What does he do that they don't, they being the rest?

CAGE: Well, John Woo for me is really a musician. His background is ballroom dancing, and that is in his camera moves, you know. If you look at his movies, they are ballet like. We all know that. There's a melody to the camera moves. The bullets are like percussive notes to the actors' expressive faces.

"Face Off" was operatic for me. "Windtalkers" is more like an intense jazz score to me and with John, he understands what I like. I like extremes and I think John likes extremes, so we have a sort of mutual understanding.

KING: "Face Off," one of the great movies of its kind, if there ever been of its kind, ever made. Christian, what do you like about John Woo?

SLATER: Well, he's just a very humble, gentle man. I mean in the midst of all the chaos and craziness that goes on in the movies that he makes, you just, you really get a calm feeling from him. You just feel safe, comfortable and very well taken care of. He's an absolute true gentleman.

KING: Do you like doing an action film, Christian?

SLATER: Yes. Yes. I mean particularly this one because it was, you know, based on true events and it just had a really special message.

KING: And it is a very special movie. We'll be right back with Nick Cage, Christian Slater, Adam Beach and John Woo, and our Windtalkers, Roy Hawthorne and Chester Nez, on this edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND. Don't go away.

(VIDEO CLIP OF "WINDTALKERS")

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. Adam Beach, what was it like for you to work with John Woo, obviously the first time, right?

BEACH: He's an actor's director. He gives you your space and there is times where we'd find ourselves, everybody just talking and having fun and John would be beside us, and half an hour later we'd be like, John when are we going to shoot and he's like, oh, are you ready? Let's shoot now and it's that atmosphere that created this bond through everybody. It was amazing.

KING: Now the first shot alone included 280 explosions, 700 extras. At times you had 14 cameras running simultaneously.

WOO: Yes.

KING: How do you keep your head among all that?

WOO: Because we shot the film, I've seen a lot of good footage, documentary of World War II and the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) so, all my teams, the camera crew and the stunt coordinators, they all have seen this footage.

KING: So you know where you're going all the time.

WOO: Yes. Yes, and we had a wonderful team, a great stunt man. We also have four military advisers on the set helping us to make sure everything was right, everything you know -

KING: And, Chester, you have said this is very realistic?

NEZ: Very realistic, yes sir.

KING: That's the way it happened.

NEZ: That's the way it happened when I was there. I seen it, the truth.

KING: Roy, you too, right?

HAWTHORNE: Absolutely.

KING: Nicolas, isn't it kind of strange that we didn't know this story for a long time? What an incredible story it is.

CAGE: I think so. I mean it wasn't in my history books when I was going to high school. I can't really pretend to know why it took so long for the Navajo Nation to be honored. My only guess is that it was a very effective secret weapon and perhaps the government thought they could use it in other battles around the world.

KING: Do you have to like your character, Nick? CAGE: Yes, I guess on some level I do. With this particular character, I was trying to make him rather unlikable because I was trying to challenge myself to paint someone who is cold or reserved or doesn't want to interact with people and try to understand that person. People I see around me all the time, I mean what's wrong with you, and try to get underneath that and hopefully give it some compassion.

KING: Well you did it brilliantly.

CAGE: Thank you.

KING: Christian, you saw your character as?

SLATER: Me, I saw him in a way as sort of the opposite side of the coin to Nick's character. I mean he's definitely not quite as war weary and he's still willing to make a connection with the person that he's assigned to protect.

KING: Now you're his alter?

SLATER: I would say so, yes.

KING: The other side. Adam, are you a little angry? You're a Canadian, a Native Canadian. I guess they call you Native Canadian?

BEACH: Yes.

KING: Angry at the way the Native Americans, Native Indians have been treated?

BEACH: Yes, well yes there's a certain amount of anger. I just wish there would be some time where people can just come together and you know help out a lot of the communities that need help out there.

KING: Do you bring that anger to the role?

BEACH: To honestly tell the truth, it's like a lot of what I was doing was just from the information I received from Nick, because -

KING: You give Nick a lot of credit.

BEACH: They guy is -- he's amazing. He's not only an amazing actor but behind the camera, he's a very kind man. He's so generous.

KING: One of the best. Roy, why did you serve your country?

HAWTHORNE: I'm glad you asked that question.

KING: They didn't treat you very well.

HAWTHORNE: I'm glad you asked that question, Larry. I served my country because first of all, I'm an American. A lot of people have called the wars that the United States have engaged in the White Man's War, but they're not a White Man's War. They're the wars of the Americans. So I served my country because I am an American, and under B under that, I served my country in spite of the over 300 broken treaties by the federal government. We have, as Native Americans, inextricable ties with the land. I mean the land is like our mother.

KING: It's yours.

HAWTHORNE: It's ours, yes. Now we don't own it in the sense of buying and selling, but we own it in every other sense and so any enemy, whether it was the Japanese or the terrorists of today.

KING: Or Custer?

HAWTHORNE: Or even Custer, yes, we decimated Custer and the 17th Cavalry.

KING: I know. Chester, why did you go in to serve your country?

NEZ: I think the reasons why I joined the Marine Corps is to defend my country and my people.

KING: No bitterness against your country?

NEZ: No bitterness. I don't have any bitterness. The only thing that bothers me, when I went to the service, the march they made through Fort Sumter, I think that was one of the most mistreatment that my people received.

KING: Yes. Nick, do you ever wonder why these fellows did what they did?

CAGE: I actually wanted to ask -- I actually wanted to ask both of them kind of a strong question is, did they ever consider, you know, the fact that over the years 19 million Indians have been assassinated by White government that, did it ever enter their minds when they joined the war and the war effort?

KING: Roy?

HAWTHORNE: Well, the assassination of over 19 million, as you mentioned Nick, is not just common to the Indian people. I mean that's true with every ethnic group. It doesn't bother me that that has happened.

KING: That's amazing.

HAWTHORNE: That's human nature.

KING: That's amazing. We'll be back with our remaining moments. This is a movie you have to see. The movie is "Windtalkers." Back with our remaining moments on this edition of LARRY KIND WEEKEND right after this.

(VIDEO CLIP OF "WINDTALKERS")

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back. "Windtalkers" opens next Friday. I understand, John Woo, that you put these actors through a basic training of their own?

WOO: Yes, we had to send them to boot camp for five days because we wanted to train them as a real Marine. So, which was really good, they really learned some great things from the boot camp. What they have learned was the brotherhood, you know. They really took care of each other.

KING: Adam, I have had Marines tell me that next to war, boot camp was the worst experience of their life. What was it like for five days?

BEACH: Third day I wanted out. It was like what is an actor doing in this situation.

KING: Why am I here?

BEACH: Exactly, but they supported me right until the end.

KING: What was it like, the real boot camp, Roy?

HAWTHORNE: Real boot camp was quite difficult but life was difficult for us before boot camp.

KING: Yes.

HAWTHORNE: So it wasn't anything new.

KING: Nicolas, what was it like to go through that?

CAGE: Well, I actually had the abbreviated version, I regret to say. I had a three-day intensive. I didn't get to spend the night with the other guys.

KING: Oh, you're star, Nick.

CAGE: I would have liked - no, it's not that. No, sir it's not that. I was busy working on another project. However, at some point, I would like to go through boot camp. I've always seen it as a vacation from myself, your problems. You do what they tell you what to do and I think that sounds like fun.

KING: Vacation from yourself, that's hysterical. Christian, what was it like for you?

SLATER: It was great. It really was helpful, I think, for me, for all the other actors to really feel like we owned the uniforms we were wearing. Like John said, it really did bring us all together as a group, and one of the interesting things about that whole process, going through boot camp, is they really do train you to sort of strip away your individuality and you really do become one unit, one corps. You know, you wear the same uniform. You march in the same row. You all sleep in the same kind of bunks. So it really helped to bring all of us together. KING: John, did you get a new appreciation of Marine life doing this?

WOO: Yes. I really appreciate that, so that's what made the movie look so real. So and if my son wanted to join the army, I would caution him to join the Marines, you know.

KING: Oh, really?

WOO: I mean it's so amazing. I really admire those people, you know. I thought they were very courageous. They're very brave.

KING: How proud it must have been to get that gold medal, Chester, huh? The president put it around your neck.

NEZ: I was very surprised, you know. For so many years, we did not get any kind of a recognition and last year, Mr. Bingaman and some other Senators got together and they said that there was some kind of a recognition. And when I got to Washington to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, that was one of the greatest experiences.

KING: And for you, Roy, the silver?

HAWTHORNE: For me, when I received the silver medal, it was an honor to me and it made me appreciate Senator Bingaman for his work on that. However, my reward, my recognition came the day that I raised my hand and pledged allegiance to America and became a Marine. That was my recognition. That was my reward.

KING: Whoa. Nicolas, are you very proud of this movie?

CAGE: I'm very proud.

KING: I think you're very (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the films you do.

CAGE: Yes, I'm very happy with "Windtalkers." I feel that all the actors were excellent and that John, as a director he actually also changed his style too and tried something new. It was a much more documentary style than some of the other movies he's made.

KING: Christian, you too?

SLATER: Yes, thrilled. I mean it was a real honor to -

KING: It should be.

SLATER: -- be a part of something like this.

KING: And Adam?

SLATER: Like I said.

KING: Yes, you deserve it.

SLATER: It was a real history lesson.

KING: This was a great break for you, Adam and with this break you're going to be a major star. Do you agree, John?

WOO: Yes, I agree.

KING: And this is a major film that you should not miss. We thank Roy Hawthorne and Chester Nez the real heroes, the Navajos themselves, Nick Cage, Christian Slater, Adam Beach the stars, and John Woo, the director and producer of "Windtalkers" from MGM. It opens next Friday, June 14th. You'll thank me for recommending it to you.

Tomorrow night, we'll look at the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth and then back to "LARRY KING LIVE" on Monday night. Thanks very much for joining us. For our whole crew here, goodnight.

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