There's no denying that gritty Western dramas are having a moment, and AMC's venture into this genre is no exception. Dark Winds follows two Navajo police officers as they juggle finding justice and confronting their own spiritual beliefs while attempting to solve a double homicide. The debut season of the show, set in New Mexico, was immediately captivating for fans of thrillers and modern Westerns alike, quickly earning itself a renewal for a second season of an additional six episodes.
Set in the 1970s, the series is based on Tony Hillerman's popular Leaphorn & Chee novels. The first season, released in the summer of 2022, followed the plot lines of both Listening Woman and People of Darkness. While it's unclear what direction the second season will take, what is clear is that more impressive names are joining an already stellar cast.
Read on for a brief overview of who plays whom in Dark Winds and where you've seen them before.
Zahn McClarnon as Joe Leaphorn
Leading the pack is one-half of Hillerman's pair of protagonists: Joe Leaphorn, played by Zahn Tokiya-ku McClarnon. An icon in the world of Westerns, McClarnon is best known for his roles in Longmire, Fargo, The Son and Westworld. An actor of both Native and Irish heritage, McClarnon grew up outside of Browning, Montana, and spent a lot of time visiting the Blackfeet Indian Reservation before gaining fame and critical acclaim.
Kiowa Gordon as Jim Chee
Jim Chee, the other part of Hillerman's duo, is played by actor and musician Kiowa Gordon. You may recognize him from the Twilight Saga, where he played shapeshifter Embry Call. Since that breakout role, he's had a few recurring roles on shows such as The Red Road and Roswell, New Mexico before landing the part of Chee on Dark Winds. In addition to acting, he's also a musician who's released songs under the name of Nature Baby.
Jessica Matten as Bernadette Manuelito
Bernadette Manuelito -- everyone's favorite prickly Navajo police sergeant -- is played by Canadian actress Jessica Matten. Her extensive list of credits ranges from Canadian cult favorite Blackstone to recent crime drama hit Tribal. Still, one of her most memorable performances is as Sokanon in the award-winning miniseries Frontier. In addition to her time on-screen, Matten is also a major advocate for Indigenous communities through her company, 7 Forward Entertainment.
Elva Guerra as Sally Growing Thunder
While they may be a newcomer to the scene, Elva Guerra has made an impressive name for themself in the short time they've been acting. The 18-year-old's first recorded role was only in 2021, but they quickly landed a recurring role on the hit FX comedy Reservation Dogs prior to appearing on Dark Winds as Sally Growing Thunder.
Deanna Allison as Emma Leaphorn
Playing Leaphorn's wife, Emma, is another fresh face: Deanna Allison. Her IMDb listing boasts a few credits from a TV movie and a few animated series, but this appears to be her first major acting project. She told her local newspaper that she's looked to the women in her family for inspiration to prepare for this role.
Rainn Wilson as Devoted Dan
Rainn Wilson has been a fixture in television and film for decades -- though you may know him best as his character Dwight Schrute from the hit comedy series The Office. While his role as Devoted Dan, a shady used car salesman, is a far cry from his work at Dunder Mifflin, he told the Seattle Times that he's excited to play such a "super-fun character." Prior to Dark Winds, Wilson starred alongside Daniel Radcliffe in the film Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.
Jeremiah Bitsui as Hoski
Adding to the ensemble is actor Jeremiah Bitsui. He is probably best known for his role as Victor on Breaking Bad and its subsequent spinoff, Better Call Saul. He's also appeared in a number of other projects, including a brief but very dramatic one-episode stint as Robert Long on Yellowstone.
Eugene Brave Rock as Frank Nakai
After making a name for himself as "The Chief" alongside Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman, Eugene Brave Rock adds another memorable role to his credits list with Dark Winds. His character, Frank Nakai, is a Buffalo Society foot soldier who's pulling more strings than he lets on.
Noah Emmerich as Whitover
Whether it's the 1990s cult classic The Truman Show or the thrilling drama The Americans, Noah Emmerich has been leaving a lasting impression on audiences for decades. In Dark Winds, he plays the mysterious Whitover, who is described as a "burned-out FBI agent whose once-promising career is dying on the vine."
Nicholas Logan as Colton Wolf
Joining the Dark Winds cast in season 2 is longtime actor and producer Nicholas Logan, who portrays a twisted assassin named Colton Wolf. While he's played small roles in television and film since 2009, the past few years have seen him hone his craft in notable projects such as I Care A Lot, Instant Family, and The Best Of Enemies.
Jeri Ryan as Rosemary Vines
Another major name coming to season 2 is none other than Star Trek: Voyager star Jeri Ryan. In Dark Winds, she plays a mysterious woman named Rosemary Vines, described as "a femme fatale whose physical frailties hide her naked ambition." Ryan has a long list of impressive credits, including a notable stint on Body of Proof and Mortal Kombat: Rebirth.
When Will Dark Winds Season 2 Premiere?
Since season 1 left us with such a cliffhanger, fans are eager to know when they can tune in for the next installment of Dark Winds. While filming is expected to wrap up in March, the second season will likely not premiere until later this year.
Until then, we can only speculate about what the next season brings -- but with a stellar cast, it's sure to deliver.
READ MORE: 'Yellowstone' Star Gil Birmingham on the Series' Portrayal of Native Communities
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