Gil Birmingham Plays ‘Dream Character’ in ‘Yellowstone’

By Sameer Rao Jun 20, 2018

Gil Birmingham boasts a screen acting resume that stretches over three decades—long enough to know the impact of the erasure of Indigenous people in his industry. 

"Many people don’t even think that we still exist, that we’re just historical artifacts that once upon a time existed," the actor of Comanche ancestry tells The Associated Press today (June 20). He aims for greater visibility with his new role in "Yellowstone," a drama series that premieres on Paramount Network tonight.

Birmingham stars as Thomas Rainwater, a Native American tribal chief and casino leader whose determination to protect his people pits him against wealthy rancher John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and others who wish to confiscate his tribe’s land. Birmingham says the role offers him a rare chance to portray an Indigenous character with depth and humanity.

“Through my career, a rather long career of struggling, mostly, I’ve been asked, ‘What would be your dream character?’ and this is it,” he says.

Watch Birmingham discuss the role below.