‘Yellowstone’ TV: Everything to Know About ‘Thomas Rainwater’ Actor Gil Birmingham

by Kayla Zadel

Thomas Rainwater is a wealthy casino mogul on the hit TV series “Yellowstone.” He not only owns the Painted Horse Casino, but Rainwater is also the chief of the Confederated Tribes of Broken Rock and leader of the Broken Rock Indian Reservation.

So who plays this powerful leader on the Paramount Series? It’s none other than Gil Birmingham, the man that’s been in some big-name movies and TV series that make you go, “oh yeah, I remember him in that.”

While we wait to see what Chief Rainwater’s next move is on “Yellowstone,” let’s take a look at the road that got Gil Birmingham to where he is today.

Gil Birmingham Was Born in Texas

The famous actor was born in San Antonio, Texas but didn’t stay there long. He moved around a lot when he was younger because his father was in the military, IMDB shares.

Birmingham learned to play the guitar at an early age and considers music his “first love.”

Not only is the man talented in acting and music, but he’s also got brains. After getting a Bachelor of Science from the University of Southern California, Birmingham worked as a petrochemical engineer.

Gil Birmingham Gets His Acting Break

Believe it or not, this Texan was a bodybuilder in the early ’80s. A talent scout spotted him at a local gym where he trained for bodybuilding contests.

Check out this “old headshot” as Birmingham captions the photo on Instagram.

This led him to his first acting experience. Birmingham appeared in a music video for Diana Ross’s 1982 hit song “Muscles.”

After appearing in Ross’s music video, Birmingham decided that he wanted to pursue a full-time acting career. He even studied with Larry Moss and Charles Conrad. In 1986, Birmingham made his first television debut on an episode of “Riptide.”

He spent several years booking roles on TV series, movies, and even a video game. But it was in 2002 when the actor got his first recurring role as the character Oz in the medical drama “Body & Soul.” Then in 2005, Birmingham was cast in a Stephen Spielberg miniseries, “Into the West.”

The Texan Takes on ‘Twilight’

Birmingham’s Comanche ancestry might’ve gotten him one of his biggest roles to date and one many of his fans might know him by. Birmingham played Billy Black, Jacob Black’s (Taylor Lautner) dad in the “Twilight” franchise.

His long locks are on display and he plays the inherited position on the tribal council. His character connections range from being a father to a best friend to Bella Swan’s (Kristen Stewart) dad Charlie (Billy Burke).

After his time on the “Twilight” set, Birmingham continued to take on characters in other series, like “House of Cards,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and “Siren.” 

Settling Into ‘Yellowstone’ Role

After starring alongside Jeff Bridges in “Hell or High Water,” Birmingham accepted the role of Thomas Rainwater in “Yellowstone.”

Express shares the 67-year-old’s thoughts on what attracted him to the role of Chief Rainwater, “I think he was an equal for John Dutton and that it was a contemporary piece and you rarely ever see that in Native American portrayals.”

“He was a power, an intelligent and educated man and so it expanded the notion of what Native American culture looked like because a lot of people aren’t even aware that Native Americans still exist,” Birmingham continues. “So I couldn’t be more excited about his [creator Taylor Sheridan] sensibilities and how he’s written the character to really be an equal.”

His character also delivers some pretty powerful one-liners, like “I will erase you from the future” and the one in this video below.

“It’s always the innocent who pay most dearly for the things we men do.”

Recent Releases From the Actor

This isn’t Gil’s first run in with the “Yellowstone” show creator. Birmingham played Martin in Sheridan’s movie “Wind River.”

The actor also has a movie, “Cosmic Radio,” coming out next year. He also plays a tribal leader in the 2021 film.

While we wait for the debut of “Yellowstone” season four, read about more of our favorite characters, like Monica Dutton, Walker, and Jimmy Hurdstrom.