AMC has given a green-light to Dark Winds, a Western noir thriller series based on the Leaphorn & Chee series by Tony Hillerman. The series has been created by Graham Roland (Jack Ryan) and will star Zahn McClarnon (Westworld) and Kiowa Gordon (Roswell, New Mexico). As you might tell from the headline, Dark Winds is also set to be executive produced by George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) and Robert Redford (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), an unlikely pairing to be sure.


Dark Winds takes place in the 1970s Southwest and follows two Navajo police officers, Leephorn (McClarnon) and Chee (Gordon), as “their search for clues in a grisly double murder case forces them to challenge their own spiritual beliefs and come to terms with the trauma of their pasts.” Chris Eyre (Skinwalkers) will direct the pilot for Dark Winds, which is expected to premiere on AMC and AMC+ next year. The series will be filmed in and around Native American lands and has the full support of the Navajo Nation. “I am honored to be asked to star as the lead in this innovative series for AMC and to Executive produce,” Zahn McClarnon said in a statement. “To have the support and to be a part of a team which is led by two iconic visionaries as George R.R. Martin and Robert Redford is something to which I’ve always aspired. I believe as Indigenous people we are in a new era of progress in TV and film representation.” In his own statement, George R.R. Martin said:

Tony Hillerman was one of the greats, as every mystery reader knows. Down here in the Southwest, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee are as iconic as Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Philip Marlowe, and Travis McGee. When my friends Robert Redford and Chris Eyre asked me to help bring Leaphorn and Chee back to television, I could not agree fast enough. We have great source material in Tony’s novel ‘Listening Woman,’ a great pilot script from Graham Rowland, a great director in Chris… and what a pair of leads, with Zahn McClarnon as Leaphorn and Kiowa Gordon as Chee! Our plan is to shoot in New Mexico, in and around Santa Fe and on the Navajo reservation, and we are bringing in as many Navajo and other Native Americans as possible, as writers, directors, cast, and crew, to capture all the magic and mystery and wonder of the Land of Enchantment. Thanks to AMC for making it possible. Tony Hillerman wrote a lot of amazing books, and it is our dream to adapt as many of them as we can.


Robert Redford added: “I read my first Tony Hillerman novel in 1986 while filming in New Mexico and was immediately hooked. Hillerman is a master storyteller, his writing is full of mystery and suspense, set amidst a background that blends traditional oral stories of Native American culture and landscape. I am happy to partner with George R.R. Martin and AMC on this project, and am especially grateful for the collaboration with President Nez and The Navajo Nation.” Zahn McClarnon leading the series makes this a no-brainer for me and I can’t wait to check Dark Winds out next year.