‘Yellowstone’ TV: How Thomas Rainwater Star Gil Birmingham Compares Taylor Sheridan Movies to the Paramount Series

by Jennifer Shea

“Yellowstone” star Gil Birmingham, who plays Chief Thomas Rainwater on the show, has worked with “Yellowstone” co-creator Taylor Sheridan before. The actor appeared in the Sheridan-written film “Hell or High Water.” He also appeared in the Sheridan-helmed film “Wind River.”

And in a 2018 interview with JoBlo.com, Birmingham compared the hit Paramount Network series to those two movies. Birmingham also said Sheridan’s characteristic technique – making the environment a character in the story – is evident on “Yellowstone.”

“It is epic in its sweeping quality of a movie. And I don’t think, I don’t feel any different from the two movies I’ve done with Taylor,” Birmingham said. “[I don’t feel] that this television is really any different. It’s just a ten-episodic movie. So that’s one of the great beauties about it. There’s not a differentiating line between any of those things. So you’re still gonna get all of the same quality, and the impact of how Taylor incorporates the environment as a character in all of his movies, and this show in particular. I think people are just gonna be blown away.”  

Watch Birmingham’s commentary here:

‘Yellowstone’ Star Called Sheridan’s Films ‘Revisionist Westerns for a Contemporary Time’

Speaking to KGET in 2020, Birmingham said that early in his career, he did some period pieces. That was all that was available at the time. But eventually, he began to prioritize more contemporary roles. He felt he was missing out on representing modern characters in a culture that survives today. Sheridan’s movies and “Yellowstone” are examples of more contemporary roles.

“Those were revisionist westerns for a contemporary time,” Birmingham said of Sheridan’s movies. “I couldn’t be happier that there’s a Native American that’s betrayed in an educated and powerful way. That’s more realistic of what our community does have and to offer. I knew Taylor would have a sensitivity with the Native world because he had a lot of interaction with them in his younger life.”

Birmingham told KGET he’s noticed that in Hollywood, actors often play characters representing stereotypes about their own heritage.

“We are always excited when we are seen as actors and not just native actors,” Birmingham added. “I have recently been watching world events and trying to figure out how we are changing so much and so fast.”

Change is a motif that runs throughout “Yellowstone.” John Dutton (Kevin Costner) is constantly trying to hold onto his ranch despite a rapidly changing Montana. But as Birmingham’s character knows too well, land that has been in a family for generations can change hands quickly. And does that fate await the Dutton ranch? Audiences will have to tune in to Season 4 to find out.