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Where You've Seen The Cast Of Reservation Dogs Before

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critical darling, FX's "Reservation Dogs" has won hearts through its frank yet good-natured depiction of life on an Oklahoma reservation, and of the misadventures of four young residents determined to make a new life for themselves. The title recalls Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs," but the two properties aren't connected by much beyond the movie poster on Bear's bedroom wall. Creators Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi have crafted a singular half-hour dramedy that busts Native American myths and stereotypes with relatable characters and a warm but ironic sense of humor. Bear and the gang aren't without their misfortunes, but there's joy in the writing and portrayals. As such, the show walks a fine line between comedy and drama. Indigenous life isn't easy, but there's room to dream, and as we move towards the end of Season 2, there's hope yet that our protagonists might make their way to the fabled land of California.

The Peabody Award-winning show features a bold mix of newcomers and veterans in its cast. Let's take a look at where we've seen them before.

The following contains light spoilers for the first two seasons of "Reservation Dogs." 

Zahn McClarnon

The kindly lighthorseman Big may have a soft spot for some of the town's inhabitants, but he's never without a word of advice for our young protagonists, especially Cheese (Lane Factor). In the Season 1 episode "Come and Get Your Love," Big allows Cheese to ride along with him to experience life on the "mean streets" of the reservation. A Redbone fan (as evidenced by the title of the aforementioned episode), Big's job may be to enforce the law, but he's so entrenched in the community that he can't seem to bring himself to mete out any punishment. 

Zahn McClarnon, who plays Big, is no stranger to playing Native American policemen. In fact, that seems to be his niche. From 2012 to 2017, McClarnon portrayed Mathias, the chief of Indian tribal police of the Cheyenne reservation, in Netflix's "Longmire." He also played Native American Marshal Grant Johnson in an episode of "Timeless." He appears as Joe Leaphorn, a Navajo cop, in "Dark Winds," an AMC+ program also featuring his "Reservation Dogs" co-star Elva Guerra. (Side note: the role of Leaphorn was played in a 2002 PBS film, "Skinwalkers," by Wes Studi, who's also in "Reservation Dogs.") Fans of "Westworld" will surely recall McClarnon as Akecheta, the leader of the Ghost Nation, a recurring character who receives main billing in Season 2, Episode 8, "Kiksuya."

K. Devery Jacobs

Elora Danan Postoak may be the strong-willed leader of the pack, but she's got some growing up to do. She and Jackie make it off the reservation at the end of Season 1, but there are some nasty surprises in store.  As an actor, Devery Jacobs has one major credit to her name; she appeared in the second season of "American Gods" as Cherokee college student Samantha Black Crow. In an interview with Collider, Jacobs stated that she fought hard for the role, and found a sympathetic ear in "American Gods" novel author Neil Gaiman. Jacobs identifies as queer, like her "America Gods" character, who identifies as "two-spirited." Sometime in the foreseeable future, we'll see her in "Echo" playing a friend of Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox), the Native American superhero introduced in "Hawkeye." Side note: If Elora's name rings a bell, that's because "Elora Danan" is a character in "Willow," the 1988 film directed by Ron Howard and executive produced by George Lucas. The show's connections to "Willow" run deeper than just Elora's name, as references to the film appear throughout "Reservation Dogs."

Michael Spears

In the Season 2 episode "Roofing," Michael Spears has a moving guest-starring role as Danny, father of the Dogs' deceased fifth member, Daniel. Danny shows Bear how to shingle a roof and comes clean about the depression he's lived with since the loss of his son. Fans of the film "Dances with Wolves" may recall a 13-year-old Spears playing Otter in the 1991 best picture winner. 

Spears went on to play a major role as Dog Star in the 2005 Steven Spielberg-produced TNT mini-series, "Into the West."  More recently, Spears has been seen in Taylor Sheridan's "1883." Those who have visited Colonial Williamsburg between 2014 and 2015 might have caught Spears in the role of Savanukah, a member of the 1777 Cherokee delegation in their outdoor production of "The Beloved Women of Chota."  If you've spent time in Montana, you may have also encountered Spears' work as a musician at the Bozeman Ice Festival or the Billings Symphony Orchestra.

Kirk Fox

As the good-natured, loquacious Kenny Boy on "Reservation Dogs," Kirk Fox is a delightful comic foil to the Dogs themselves. Besides being a sort of de facto crime boss, he's also the owner of a junkyard that doubles as a chop shop and meth lab. Fox has been a mainstay of TV comedy in recent years — he's basically one of those actors you've never heard of, but you've probably seen multiple times. He appeared on 10 episodes of "Parks and Recreation" as "Sewage Joe" Fantringham, whose only requirements for women are that they not be in a wheelchair or walk with a cane and have no gray hair. He also played Blade, Britta's brain-damaged ex-boyfriend on "Community," and Jake's half-sister's ex-boyfriend Kurt on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."  An award-winning standup comedian, Fox also played tennis professionally and was married to Alison Eastwood, Clint's daughter, for a total of 10.5 months.

Megan Mullally

Megan Mullally played the role of Anna — a kindly religious women who takes in Elora and Jackie following their misfortune on the road to California — in the second episode of the second season. Elora and Jackie's experience in Anna's McMansion becomes short-lived, however, when they find themselves as uncomfortable with Anna's luxurious existence as they were with their life in Oklahoma. Superstar comedian cameos have become something of a staple in "Reservation Dogs," and this episode flies thanks to Mullally's expert timing. As to where you've seen her before, we must start with "Will and Grace," the show that propelled her into the TV comedy stratosphere and earned her eight nominations and two wins at the Primetime Emmys for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series. After that, she moved on to memorable roles in "Party Down," "Parks and Recreation" (in which she ironically played Ron Swanson's ex-wife), "Happy Endings," "Children's Hospital," and "Breaking In." We also happen to know she was utterly delightful as Rosemary in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" opposite Matthew Broderick on Broadway in 1995. 

D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai

As the soulful Bear Smallhill on "Reservation Dogs," D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai scored a role that could make him a genuine star. With brooding good looks and the chops to bring across Bear's pain at being stuck in his small town without a father who cares about his family, Woon-A-Tai doesn't have many credits to his name, but he's anchoring "Reservation Dogs" right now, and we suspect we'll be seeing more of him after the show's over. But lest you think the idea of working with Waititi and Harjo went to his head, upon receiving the offer, Woon-A-Tai told GQ, "My mom woke me up and was like, 'You got the call! You got the call!'  I was like, 'That's sick.' And then I just went back to bed."   

As for where fans have seen Woon-A-Tai before — If you were one of the lucky few to catch the 2018 Family Channel series "Holly Hobbie," you saw him in the recurring role of Chase Whaley in Season 1. His first film, 2020's "Beans," was an official TIFF selection that won best motion picture at the Canadian Screen Awards, and also features Woon-A-Tai's "Reservation Dogs" co-star Paulina Alexis.

Wes Studi

In one of the show's multiple instances of impressive casting, Wes Studi plays the role of Bucky, a local artist. Studi was recently named one of the New York Times' "25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century (So Far)," with Times critic Manohla Dargis noting, "Studi has one of the screen's most arresting faces — jutting and creased and anchored with the kind of penetrating eyes that insist you match their gaze... Studi doesn't just play with a character's facade; he peels its layers. A master of expressive opacity, he shows you the mask and what lies beneath, both the thinking and the feeling." You've seen Studi in such films as Kevin Costner's "Dances with Wolves" from 1990, 1992's "The Last of the Mohicans," 1993's "Geronimo: An American Legend" and Terrence Malick's "The New World" from 2005. In 2019, Studi received a prestigious honorary Oscar, becoming the first Native American and the second Indigenous person from North America to be honored by the Academy. The first was Buffy Sainte-Marie, for co-writing "Up Where We Belong" from "An Officer and a Gentleman."

Lane Factor

If there's a sincere, candy center to "Reservation Dogs," it's Oklahoma native Lane Factor, who plays the sweet, deep-thinking Cheese. Along with his co-stars, Factor won a 2022 Independent Spirit Award for best ensemble cast in a new scripted series. He's relatively new to the entertainment world, but he's clearly making waves. He's been cast in "The Fabelmans," Steven Spielberg's semi-autobiographical film, alongside Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, and David Lynch, slated for a fall of 2022 release. He's also narrating the YA audiobook "Man Made Monsters" by Cherokee author Andrea L. Rogers, a horror collection featuring werewolves, vampires, zombies, and other staple horror creatures that draw inspiration from spooky Cherokee legends. Heart-warming side note — according to his FX bio, Factor is an inspirational speaker who gives keynote speeches at schools and youth conferences where he "promotes positivity, kindness, and stepping outside your comfort zone," which all sounds appropriately Cheesy.

Bobby Lee

Stand-up comedian, actor, and podcaster Bobby Lee plays the world-weary Dr. Kang on "Reservation Dogs," who shows little interest in his patients but seems to perk up in the presence of work associate Rita Smallhill. Lee's been on television since the start of the millennium as a cast member on "MADtv" from 2001 to 2009 and on the short-lived 2018 ABC sitcom "Splitting Up Together" with Jenna Fischer and Oliver Hudson. He's also been in films like 2004's "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle," 2008's "Pineapple Express," and 2012's "The Dictator." Lee can be heard weekly on the podcast he co-hosts with his ex-partner Khalyla Kuhn, "TigerBelly," as well as the podcast "Bad Friends," with Andrew Santino. He also occasionally pops up on HBO's "And Just Like That... " and is scheduled to appear in "Borderlands," a sci-fi action comedy directed by Eli Roth, based on the video game, as part of an amazing ensemble cast featuring Cate Blanchett, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Paulina Alexis

The wise-cracking, foul-mouthed Willie Jack on "Reservation Dogs" has a take-no-prisoners attitude and a willingness to take on injustice wherever she sees it. As Willie Jack, Paulina Alexis steals nearly every scene she's in. Alexis hails from the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Reserve in Alberta and has only been acting for a few years. As she told the New York Times, "Those open casting calls they have for Disney — I would always go to them, but I never got a call-back." That is, until the day she graduated high school, when her agent sent her an email. Alexis had won the role of a roller-skating waitress in Jason Reitman's "Ghostbusters: Afterlife."  Alexis said, "I was flipping out. My whole family started jumping up and down and going crazy." Her acting trajectory has only coasted up from there. While "Ghostbusters" is still technically the highest-profile production she's been involved in, Alexis' breakthrough role came in the 2020 Canadian film "Beans," which features D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai. 

Garrett Hedlund

Garrett Hedlund may be one of our finest actors, but his character on "Reservation Dogs," known only as Dave, is nothing short of repugnant. Dave is dude with a Confederate flag tattoo on one arm and something of a fetish for Native American women. In an episode appropriately titled "Red Flags," Rita runs for the hills the morning after she spends the night with the man in a scene that memorably morphs into a fantasy sequence in which Rita pictures Dave as a plantation owner being waited on by Native servants. As an actor, Hedlund came roaring out of the gate at age 19, making his mark in director Wolfgang Petersen's "Troy" opposite Brad Pitt, and starring in 2004's "Friday Night Lights" with Billy Bob Thornton, Amber Heard, and Tim McGraw. Further film work on Hedlund's substantial resume includes 2007's "Georgia Rule" with Lindsay Lohan, Jane Fonda, and Felicity Huffman; 2010's "Tron: Legacy" alongside Jeff Bridges and Olivia Wilde; 2010's "Country Strong" with Gwyneth Paltrow, Leighton Meester, and his "Friday Night Lights" co-star Tim McGraw; the Coen Brothers' 2013 movie "Inside Llewyn Davis" opposite Oscar Isaac; and 2017's "Mudbound" with Carey Mulligan and Mary J. Blige.

An accomplished musician, Hedlund recorded a number of songs for the "Country Strong" soundtrack, including "Chances Are," and released his first non-film-related single "The Road," in January of 2022. 

Sarah Podemski

Sarah Podemski — who plays Bear's long-suffering but good-natured mom, Rita — was born in Toronto to an Israeli Jewish father and a mother from the Muscowpetung First Nation in Saskatchewan. She appears in the show alongside her sister Tamara, who plays Teenie, Elora Danan's aunt; their onscreen chemistry is evident in episodes like Season 2's "Wide Net" in which the sisters, childhood friends on the show, crash together after a long night of partying at a health conference. Another Podemski sister, Jennifer, is an actress who co-founded an influential Canadian media company with Gary Farmer. But where have we seen or heard Sarah before? Podemski, who's also an accomplished dreamcatcher artist has appeared on a 1996 episode of "Goosebumps" and, as a voice actor, in Cartoon Network's "Total Drama" and "Total Drama All-Stars." She previously worked with "Reservation Dogs" co-creator Sterlin Harjo in his 2015 film "Mekko," and appeared in eight episodes of the SyFy series "Resident Alien."

Gary Farmer

Gary Farmer may be best known nowadays as the profanity-spewing, pot-growing Uncle Brownie on "Reservation Dogs," but he's a renaissance multi-hyphenate who's been in the business for several decades. An influential member of Canadian First Nations media, Farmer co-founded Aboriginal Voices Radio Network with Jennifer Podemski. To movie audiences, Farmer is most associated with indie icon director Jim Jarmusch. Farmer has appeared in two of Jarmusch's films – "Dead Man" and "Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai," playing the sympathetic Native American man called "Nobody" in both films. The recipient of three Independent Spirit Award nominations – for "Dead Man," the 1993 adaptation of Sherman Alexie's "Smoke Signals," and 1990's "Powwow Highway" with Wes Studi — Farmer is also a musician, fronting the blues outfit Gary Farmer and the Troublemakers. He's also in 15 episodes of "Resident Alien" and pops into arguably the best Nicolas Cage movie, 2002's "Adaptation." 

Bill Burr

Bill Burr recently became the first ever standup comedian to headline Fenway Park, but outside of Boston, he's been making waves as a dramatic actor by appearing in shows like "The Mandalorian," "Breaking Bad," and HBO's "Crashing." Burr picked up a Primetime Emmy nomination for outstanding actor in a short form comedy or drama series for Roku Channal's "Immoral Compass."  But those seeking a regular dose of Burr needn't look up those episodes and shows; they need only tune in to his weekly one-hour podcast, Bill Burr's Monday Morning Podcast, which he's recorded since 2007. In "Reservation Dogs," Burr plays Garrett Bobson, a local basketball coach and driving instructor who spends a memorable day with Elora Danan, teaching her to drive and inadvertently getting them into a sticky situation when Bobson attempts to confront his estranged daughter. In this instance, "sticky situation" means "a situation in which gunfire is exchanged." On the show, Bobson thinks he's been given the Mvskoke name "Cukoce," (pronounced Cho-ga-gee) or "great white warrior." While that translation might not be 100% accurate, Burr's still had a heck of a career for a wise-cracking Emerson College grad from Canton, Mass.

Elva Guerra

As the quiet but tough-as-nails Jackie, Elva Guerra cuts an imposing presence in "Reservation Dogs," though as Guerra told Casting Calls, she's a far cry from the character on the show. While Jackie's the leader of the NDN Mafia, the other street gang in town, and a sworn enemy of Willie Jack, Guerra claimed, "I'm so different from Jackie as a person, which makes it really fun to play her. You get to act angry and mean — it's a good way to vent your emotions without actually hurting anyone in real life." Guerra's Los Angeles audition also marked a couple of milestones for the actor who had never been "far outside of Oklahoma" or flown in a plane before. Since nabbing the role, Guerra joined the cast of "Dark Winds" as Sally Growing Thunder alongside Zahn McClarnon, and appears in Episode 4 of "Rutherford Falls" with K. Devery Jacobs.

Lil Mike & Funny Bone

Arguably the breakout stars among a cast of breakouts, Oklahoma natives and Pawnee tribe members Lil Mike and Funny Bone play Mose and Mekko, brothers who pedal around the reservation dispensing observations, bits of wisdom, and rap lyrics. They provide a sizeable fraction of the show's comic relief, and yet by yearning for a life outside the rez, they also embody the dreams of pretty much everyone on the show. Real-life brothers Lil Mike and Funny Bone, like their characters, have harbored hopes of rap stardom since they were young, according to their website bio. Their website also claims they were born five years apart, are both named Jesus, have a third brother also named Jesus, and that Funny Bone's name stands for "F.ULLY U.NITIED N.EW N.URISHED Y.OUNG B.ROTHA O.F N.OBLE E.SSENCE."  As performers, they go by the moniker "Mike Bone." The stage name should ring bells for fans of "America's Got Talent," on which the brothers appeared, performing their original rap "Rain Dance" on a 2013 episode.  Though they cleared the first round thanks to "yes" votes from Howie Mandel, Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, and Mel B, they were eliminated in the following round in Las Vegas. But their spirit remains indomitable.  As the boys put it on their site, "[They] are writing and recording as many songs as they can & performing all over the World with success in their grasp! Two natives who put a positive spin on the rap game."