Westworld star Zahn McClarnon is ditching dystopian America for 1970s Southwest to solve a double murder as Lieutenant Joe Leophorn.
The grisly death of two Native residents means Joe is tasked with a grim case to solve. The other twist in the tale is the FBI are looking into a seemingly unrelated bank robbery that occurs on the same night.
Luckily Joe isn’t alone, and begins his investigation alongside new deputy Jim Chee played by Kiowa Gordon.
“I’ve been a fan of Kiowa since the first time I saw his work on The Red Road,” confesses Zahn. “He’s very understated and honest with his work."
"He listens and is open," continues Zahn. "He brings an energetic spirit to the set as well and I really appreciate that, because sometimes I get a little too serious and intense.”
The six-part American mystery series is set on a remote outpost of Navajo Nation near Monument Valley and what is special about the filming of the series is that both cast and crew are indigenous.
“I’ve been in the business for several decades now and seeing these changes come to fruition is very exciting,” says Zahn.
“It was amazing to come to work and see all the Native talent in front and behind the camera. I’m grateful to AMC for getting behind these stories. I think we’re just scratching the surface. It’s been a long time coming, but I do think we have a ways to go.”
As with any main character, Joe has a dark past lurking underneath his stony exterior.
He continues to struggle after the death of his son and the case leads his grief to resurface.
“As humans we have gone through painful experiences, loss, tragedy, joy,” explains Zahn. “I try to lean into and draw from those lived experiences. It’s something that I don’t mind doing and sometimes I find it cathartic.”
The series is based on a series of detective books by Tony Hillerman who Zahn admits he was a huge fan of before the show came about.
“I knew of the Tony Hillerman books growing up,” he says. “He was very much in the ethos of Indian country, but I didn’t start reading his books until my early twenties. There weren’t too many books with Native lead characters in them, so it was exciting for me to read. I had auditioned for some of the earlier productions of the Hillerman novels as well.”
Dark Winds begins on Wednesday 18th October, 9pm, Alibi
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