‘Yellowstone’: Here’s Where You’ve Seen Thomas Rainwater Actor Gil Birmingham Before

by Liz Holland

Many “Yellowstone” fans know Gil Birmingham as the leader of the Broken Rock Indian Reservation, Thomas Rainwater. However, you might be wondering why the 68 year old actor looks so familiar. 

Birmingham got quite the insane introduction to show business. When he was younger, the actor worked as a petrochemical engineer, and he also pursued bodybuilding. His impressive physique landed him an interesting opportunity which opened up the doors of Hollywood to him. 

Birmingham’s “big break” came when he was scouted for a Diana Ross music video. Yup, that’s right. The star appeared in the video for the 1982 hit “Muscles.” In a 2016 interview with The Independent Critic, the Texas born performer shared how his body led to him pursuing other acting work after he was cast in the music video. 

“It was never something I anticipated or thought about,” he said of his break into Hollywood. “I played music from the time I was a kid. My fantasy was to be a rock star. Really, more than anything, music is still near and dear to my heart. I couldn’t do the engineering anymore. I wanted to explore this aesthetic world of body-building. Then, I got tapped by a producer who came to the gym and asked me to be part of this video for Diana Ross. I thought ‘Diana Ross, that sounds fun! What? I’m mostly naked?'”

‘Yellowstone’ Star Gil Birmingham Also Starred in a Vampire Saga

Birmingham’s stripped down backup performance quickly led to other opportunities for the star. He’s appeared in plenty of notable projects over the last several decades before landing his role as Thomas Rainwater.

Aside from the Diana Ross tune, you may also recognize him from “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “The Legend of Calamity Jane,” or the mini series “Into the West.”

The actor also appeared in an episode of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” and a few episodes of “NCIS: Los Angeles.” He also famously portrayed Billy Black in The Twilight Saga film series. 

Where to Catch the Actor Next

Birmingham comes from a Native American heritage, putting representation at the forefront of his consciousness. In an interview with KGET, the actor opened up about what’s most important to him when he’s considering a new role. “I don’t judge anyone who is trying to break into the business. In the beginning all you want to do is work. At the start, I did a bunch of period pieces and that usually was all that was available,” he explained. “It isn’t that some of them weren’t great but we were missing the boat on representing contemporary characters in a culture that is still here. That was a big goal for me — to align myself with roles that were more contemporary.”

While we hope to continue seeing Birmingham in “Yellowstone,” he also has other projects underway. The performer will star in “The Marsh’s King’s Daughter,” a thriller that is expected to release this May.