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Why Detective Pearce From Animal Kingdom Looks So Familiar

You've likely heard some variation of the maxim that humanity is the most dangerous animal of all. Few places on television is that better exemplified than on the TNT drama, "Animal Kingdom."

For several seasons now, we've followed one boy, J (Finn Cole), who is dropped into the middle of a massive criminal undertaking by the Cody family. While he's 17 years old at the beginning of the series, he's still rather impressionable, and the last few years have seen him break bad in more ways than one as he helps the rest of the Cody clan stay one step ahead of law enforcement. Plenty of people have been on their tails over the course of the show's run, and Detective Pearce (Gil Birmingham) would likely be the most prominent of the bunch. 

Birmingham's Pearce has appeared periodically throughout "Animal Kingdom," and while he's come close to having a strong case against Smurf (Ellen Barkin) and her boys, everything so far has fallen short. One thing that hasn't fallen short, though, is the illustrious career of actor Gil Birmingham, who's appeared in films and on TV since the 1980s. While his filmography is lengthy, here are some of the highlights.

He guided Jacob and Bella in the Twilight series

Gil Birmingham had been acting for decades, with appearances in the likes of "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," "Into the West," and "Charmed." However, most audiences probably first saw him when he stepped into blockbuster YA territory by taking on the role of Billy Black in the "Twilight" movies. He may not be part of any supernatural love triangles, but he's the father to Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who initially tries to get Bella (Kristen Stewart) to stay away from Edward (Robert Pattinson). 

Later in the franchise, once Jacob's ability to transform into a werewolf comes to light, Billy tries to throw Bella off the scent. He makes excuses for why Jacob tends to leave at a moment's notice, but soon the secret is out. Bella and Billy's relationship grows complicated over the years. Sometimes she believes him to be manipulative, while other times she finds him wise. He appears in every film of the franchise minus the finale, "Breaking Dawn — Part 2," and Birmingham's career has only grown more impressive since that time.

He went on to star in the prestige drama, Hell or High Water

Plenty of actors have death scenes, but the demise of Texas Ranger Alberto Parker (Birmingham) in 2016's "Hell or High Water" is truly one of the most shocking and depressing you'll come across. The scene is all the more shocking, considering he's partnered up with Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), who can't shut up about how close he is to retirement throughout the movie. Anyone familiar with crime film tropes knows anyone who's about to retire is knocking on death's door. The fact that Marcus makes it to the end of the movie alive, likely haunted by witnessing his partner die, makes it a memorable subversion. 

Bridges may have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor at that year's Oscars, but his performance benefited from having someone of equal talent to play off of. It's just more evidence that every movie is made better by the addition of Gil Birmingham.

Recently, he's had a recurring spot on Yellowstone

Taylor Sheridan, the screenwriter who penned "Hell or High Water," has played a big role in bringing a renewed interest to the neo-Western film genre. In addition to getting an Academy Award nomination for that film, he's also written the likes of "Sicario," "Wind River," and "Sicario: Day of the Soldado." He's also the co-creator of one of the most popular dramas currently on television — "Yellowstone" — which also just so happens to star Gil Birmingham in the role of Chief Thomas Rainwater.

The Dutton family has its fair share of enemies throughout the show who want to get their hands on their vast Montana estate. That list includes Rainwater, who's a local tribal chief. He insists that the land was stolen from the indigenous people who were originally there, even going so far as to steal some of the Duttons' cattle to send a message. With Season 4 of "Yellowstone" on the horizon, expect Chief Rainwater to play a significant role.