Dark Winds is the latest AMC series to take the world by storm. The network, known for quality mystery thrillers, has once again knocked it out of the park with a show based on the iconic Leaphorn & Chee book series by Tony Hillerman. With new episodes airing every Sunday, and AMC + subscribers one week ahead, the story of Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn (Zahn McClarnon, Westworld) trying to solve the seemingly unconnected crimes happening on the Navajo reservation has audiences gripped.
A large part of the central mystery ties back to Hoski, played by Jeremiah Bitsui, who has been an AMC mainstay thanks to his role as Victor as Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. The mysterious so-called Father has been lurking on the edges of the story and slowly revealing his involvement in the Leaphorn cases and his team need to solve.
Screen Rant spoke to Bitsui about the dual nature of Hoski, and what he represents in a story about generational trauma. The actor also shared thoughts on his character’s potential fate, Dark Winds’ season 2 two renewal, and the upcoming conclusion of Better Call Saul.
Screen Rant: There is deception and disgrace everywhere that you go. Can you talk about playing such a complex and double-sided character like Hoski?
Jeremiah Bitsui: With Hoski being on the deceptive and dark side, I think my job was really to try to bring a humility to him. Hopefully, by the end, though you probably hate the guy, he’s someone that has layers that really have you wonder, “Why is that guy so screwed up? What’s going on there? Why so deceptive, why so dark.?”
Underneath all of that, hopefully by the end, you get that this is someone that has been a ticking time bomb. It’s someone that’s been dealing with a lot of trauma, which is true to back home; which is true to our culture and to the US, as far as men not talking and not getting their feelings out.
Guys, you need to talk and get your feelings out. This is a good example of why you want to make sure to get out to a therapist or talk to someone, because definitely Hoski did not.
How do you get into that mindset? In episode 3, the scene with Wanda is so chilling, because you’re not even doing anything yet and the audience can still feel the intensity coming off you – the consequences of which we see later. How do you step into that character?
Jeremiah Bitsui: Good question. I think for Hoski, no matter how he feels – whether it’s, “I gotta kill you, and I hate to do it,” or, “I gotta kill you, and I really did not like you.” – I think it’s more about his objective. It becomes an objective thing, in the sense that he’s checking off the boxes. It is very calculated, which is scary, in the sense that it’s mechanical. He’s going through these routines, and then for a while, maybe even enjoying it a little bit. That’s where he catches himself and thinks this is not it, and his partner catches it and thinks, “This is definitely not the route.”
For his character, you definitely have those undertones, as far as him being methodical. And in that particular scene, you have him starting to maybe enjoy it a little bit and making it personal, which is the downfall.
As the season goes on, your scenes with Leaphorn are especially tense and exciting. Can you talk about working with Zahn McClarnon, and how Hoski unravels as it goes on?
Jeremiah Bitsui: Yeah, absolutely. It has been my pleasure to work with Zahn a second time. We did some work on Longmire, and for him to have reached out and said, “Hey, this is something I want you to be a part of,” made me really excited for this collaboration.
As an actor, I’ve been watching on the sidelines and coming off days when I was just tuning in. Now seeing it on screen, he’s done an amazing job at that slow burn; it’s really just nice and easy. I just love everything about his performance. And Hoski is the counterbalance of that, someone who is a slow burn but is also a ticking time bomb. It made our students feel very interesting, in the sense that there is this juxtaposition.
In the end, you really feel that they have more in common than you actually think. they just kind of are taking different routes to get there.
Obviously, you and AMC have a good thing going. Aside from Dark Windsyou’ve been on both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. With Better Call Saul coming to an end, any word on Victor in the last few episodes? Will we see him again?
Jeremiah Bitsui: I’m not sure how much I can disclose on the last part, but what I can say is from what I know. And what I know is that the season sums up in as amazing and unpredictable ways as always.
Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan take you to this place where you’re just kind of left thinking, “What just happened?” I exited right when we were seeing the ending parts. I wish I could share more, but you’ve got to check it out, you know?
But let me just say it was an amazing segue. Vince gave me a really warm exit and said some really nice things on my last day of Better Call Saul. It was really heartfelt, because they’ve taken this creative journey, and it’s been the best. I never went to film school, but they’ve given me the best possible film school I could ever have gone to. It was emotional.
To leave Vince Gilligan, and then transfer over to Vince Calandra and our whole project here with Dark Winds, has been pretty amazing. I think I’m excited for people to see the ends of both.
Dark Winds has been renewed for season 2, but we do not know your fate necessarily. Would you want to come back, and is there any possibility that you might?
Jeremiah Bitsui: I would not want to come back. [Laughs] No, I’m just kidding. Everyone was really great and wonderful.
Absolutely, I think coming back would be an amazing thing and would be true AMC fashion. After Breaking Bad ended, I came back on Better Call Saul. I never saw it coming; that was a curveball for me. So, I like to end things and then take them back. It would be a gift.
But the benefit of my character is that he’s a twin. So, we’ll see. We’ll see where [his brother] is, and how or if his brother comes. And they both may come back. We’ll see.
Speaking of going back, you’ve had the honor of being killed by Giancarlo Esposito. What has it been like to then go back to the time before that and explore the dynamics there?
Jeremiah Bitsui: It’s a much different show. The groundwork for Breaking Bad was really this original, amazing storyline. My wife is a huge fan of The X-Files, and the cool thing is there’s Easter eggs even back through that. Now, it’s the richness of creating this wonderful foundation which is Breaking Bad, and building this amazing structure on top of it. It’s quite amazing.
For Victor to come back, it was freeing in a way. We know where he ends, we know where he goes – and I know some people are watching Better Call Saul first, and then Breaking Bad. That’s a blessing. That’s pretty amazing. Let’s just say that to know where that story goes, and how you can complement it, highlight it, and navigate those channels? For an actor, it’s pretty amazing to kind of backfill that character.
Dark Winds Synopsis
Set in 1971 on a remote outpost of the Navajo Nation near Monument Valley, Dark Winds follows Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn (Zahn McClarnon, The Son, Westworld, Fargo) of the Tribal Police as he is besieged by a series of seemingly unrelated crimes. The closer he digs to the truth, the more he exposes the wounds of his past. He is joined on this journey by his new deputy, Jim Chee (Kiowa Gordon, The Red Road, Roswell, New Mexico). Chee, too, has old scores to settle from his youth on the reservation. Together, the two men battle the forces of evil, each other and their own personal demons on the path to salvation.
Read our other interviews with Dark Winds stars Zahn McClarnon, Kiowa Gordon & Jessica Matten and EPs Chris Eyre & Graham Roland.
More: Better Call Saul’s BTS Issues Made Howard Twist Even Better
The first four episodes of Dark Winds are currently available to stream on AMC +, with new episodes premiering on AMC Sundays at 9pm ET.
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