AMC Networks is betting their next big series on Dark Winds, a Western noir thriller from executive producers George R. R. Martin and Robert Redford, alongside additional producers Tina Elmo and Vince Gerardis. The detective series follows two Navajo police officers in 1971 as they search for the perpetrators of multiple, yet seemingly disconnected crimes. The series will be created and executive produced by Graham Roland, the creative behind projects like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, The Returned, Almost Human and Fringe. Vince Calandra will serve as the showrunner and executive producer, and Chris Eyre will direct the pilot and also executive produce.
Dark Winds is based on the long-running Leaphorn & Chee book series by Tony Hillerman, and follows two Navajo police officers in the 1970s in the Southwest, as they struggle to find the criminals behind a grisly double murder case that forces them to uncover and explore their own trauma and spiritual beliefs. The six-episode series will star Kiowa Gordon and Zahn McClarnon, with McClarnon also serving as an executive producer. I’m thrilled to see McClarnon getting a starring role, as his turns in shows like Westworld and Fargo have proven that the actor can successfully carry a big project.
This is a huge deal for AMC and the future of television production as well, especially since Dan McDermott, president of original programming for AMC Networks and AMC Studios, said that the writers’ room is staffed entirely by Native American writers, filmed largely in and around Native American lands, and Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez gave his full approval of the series.
In an official statement, McClarnon said, “I am honored to be asked to star as the lead in this innovative series for AMC and to executive produce. To have the support and to be a part of a team which is led by two iconic visionaries as George R. R. Martin and Robert Redford is something to which I’ve always aspired. I believe as Indigenous people we are in a new era of progress in TV and film representation.”
With an already very prolific career, McClarnon does have some additional interesting projects in the works, including as a series regular in Marvel‘s Hawkeye new series. He was also cast in a new FX comedy from Taika Waititi called Reservation Dogs, which is about four Native American teenagers growing up on a reservation in eastern Oklahoma. But if you need some McClarnon earlier than these series can provide, he was last seen in a stunningly underrated National Geographic series called Barkskins, which is based on Annie Proulx‘s epic novel.
Dark Winds will premiere on AMC+ and AMC in 2022.