Are you ready for round 3? In our Hot List series we’ve thus far seen a handful each of hot—popular, talented, and yes of course attractive—Native actors and actresses. We told you there would be more. Here’s another salvo of handsome male thespians. None of these are in any strict order, and this group is on the whole more accomplished than the first. It’s also more diverse than the Lakota-fest we had the first time around, with entries from Salteaux First Nation and Hawaii.
Clean-cut and still boyishly handsome at 41, Adam Beach has had a prolific career in film and television, and seems equally at ease working in Hollywood and the Canadian film industry. His most recent run on TV was as Bobby Martin, the lead character on Arctic Air, a CBC series that finished its third and final season earlier this year. Previously he’d been seen on HBO’s Big Love and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Beach has been a regular in Native-themed films and TV-movies, appearing in such familiar titles as Smoke Signals, Windtalkers, and Skinwalkers, but his profile made a quantum leap with his performance as Ira Hayes in Flags of Our Fathers, the acclaimed drama (directed by Clint Eastwood) about the lives of the six soldiers who raised the American flag at Iwo Jima in World War II. Beach is an outspoken advocate for First Nations causes, and uses his star power to draw attention to the fight against tar sands extraction and the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Momoa, who is Native Hawaiian (with a dash of Pawnee), is a one-man Hot List right about now. The brooding, bulging actor has been turning heads ever since his Baywatch days, and Momoa-watchers just keep getting more of what they want. In 2011, he played two barbaric hunks: the title character of Conan the Barbarian and the slightly less cuddly Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones. His career is still on the way up in 2014, and what’s more, it’s diversifying. He’s now proven himself a bankable protagonist (or at least antihero) for TV drama with The Red Road, which was picked up for a second season by Sundance TV, and an auteur with Road to Paloma, a film about injustice on an Indian reservation he made on a shoestring budget.
And those rumors that he would be playing Aquaman in one or several upcoming comic-book movies? CONFIRMED.
Eddie Spears, Lakota, is the younger brother of actor/model Michael Spears, and his most recent high-profile gig was as Joseph Black Moon in Hell on Wheels. Joseph Black Moon hasn’t been seen since the end of season two, when he decided he needed to go off on his own to rethink this whole “Christianity” thing. We’re now three episodes into season four of Hell on Wheels — will Joseph Black Moon return? We don’t know, we’re asking. Eddie Spears fans, of which there are many, also fondly remember his performances in The Slaughter Rule, Into the West, and Yellow Rock. His next project is The Red Man’s View, currently in pre-production and featuring a who’s-who of Native talent; in the meantime you might catch Eddie playing with Michael in their drum group Bear Canyon.
Bitsui’s career started out with a bang, in 1994, when he played “Young Indian Boy” in Natural Born Killers (as opposed to the “Old Indian” character, played by a fellow named Russell Means, maybe you heard of him). He was also in Flags of Our Fathers, as “Young Indian.” His habit of playing nameless Indians in big productions came to an end in 2009 when he showed up on Breaking Bad as Victor, henchman to Walter White’s nemesis Gus. Victor met a violent end (as did so many characters on Breaking Bad), but Bitsui’s career has since flourished. He’s been roundly praised for his performance as Luther “Sickboy” Maryboy in the must-see Native film Drunktown’s Finest, and he has a number of exciting projects in the works, notably “The Life,” a series about human trafficking that co-stars Q’orianka Kilcher.
Yes, Gil Birmingham is 61. He’s old enough to be Adam Beach’s dad (and therefore the grandfather of Adam Beach’s teenage son; yes, Adam Beach has a teenage son). And he has played Eddie Spears’ dad. But you know what? It’s the year 2014 and hot dads are a thing. Gil Birmingham is most certainly a thing, a force of nature, a heartthrob who keeps picking up steam. Birmingham has been working in Hollywood for about 30 years, and made a name for himself with his performances in Into the West and Skins. But it was a whole new ballgame when he appeared in Twilight (2008), playing Billy Black, leader of the Quileute Tribe and father to Jacob Black (played by Taylor Lautner). While the teenybopper fans debated Team Edward vs. Jacob, or tried to pick a favorite Wolfpack kid, Birmingham monopolized the ladies-of-a-certain-age demographic. (An internet meme from the time featured Kanye West saying “Yo Taylor, I know you think you’re the most ripped person in the Twilight cast, I’m real happy for you and Imma let you finish, but… Gil Birmingham could rip your arms off your body.”) In all, Birmingham appeared in four Twilight Saga movies, and he’s become a regular on two of today’s hottest series: Banshee and House of Cards.