Roger Willie '95
14, 2002, the adventures of Roger Willie '95 continue at a theater
near you when MGM premiers the new movie "Windtalkers."
Willie has a leading role alongside Nicholas Cage and Christian Slater. "Windtalkers" is about the famous Navajo "code talkers," who operated in the Pacific theater of World War II.
"Windtalkers" director and producer John Woo ("Mission Impossible 2," "Broken Arrow") was taken with Willie's natural talents. A Navajo from Continental Divide, New Mexico, Willie speaks Dine, the code talker language. He plays one of two lead Navajo roles in the battle for Saipan. Slater portrays his personal bodyguard on the battlefield.
Woo is not the only person captivated by Willie's native good looks and acting ability. He has since appeared in a GQ fashion spread. A second movie, "Adaptation," with Meryl Streep and Cage, has been shot.
Here is what one critic said about his performance: "..Roger Willie who plays Pvt. Whitehorse is amazing. He had some of the best moments in the movie. His interaction with Christian Slater was great." (coronaproductions.com)
"Windtalkers" was shot in Hawaii at a cost of $100 million. Proud father-in-law Bruce Barton '86 says the family was treated like royalty while on location. Willie is married to Teresa "Sissy" Carter, and they have a son, Seattle Greyeyes, and a daughter, Jodi Whitehorse.
The military scenes proved no obstacle for Willie, who came to North Carolina via the 82nd Airborne. He graduated with a B.A. degree in American Indian Studies and is continuing his studies at the University of Arizona while living in Tuscon.
Willie told Indian Country Today recently the experience has been "my fantasy fulfilled." How did it happen? About 400 Navajos were used in the film, and Willie was escorting his nephew for a script reading when he was discovered.
He said MGM and Woo did a great job with the details. "I'm really hoping this will enhance the perspective of how important our language is," he said.
The nation has recently demonstrated its pride and gratitude for the efforts of the code talkers. Last July, they were awarded Congressional Gold Medals in a special ceremony attended by President Bush and members of the movie cast.
Photos are courtesy of MGM Studios
Updated: Thursday, September 2, 2004
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