Actor/comedian/speaker Tatanka Means' star continues to rise. His performance in Tiger Eyes reaped critical praise in 2013 and he's been a regular supporting character on the Cinemax series Banshee in 2014; now you can see him, albeit briefly, alongside Wes Studi in the Seth MacFarlane comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West. He shared his thoughts on the film and his upcoming projects with ICTMN.
So you're in this huge comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West, opening today -- tell us about that.
I just watched it last night at a screening and this movie is hilarious -- and of course very raunchy and racist as expected. Seth MacFarlane was great to work with, very open and easy to talk with about the scenes. He was starring and directing, so he was pretty busy. It was cool and different; that was my first time experiencing working with an actor/director on their own film.
What got you interested in doing the movie?
My role ended up being a small one, but now I can say I worked with Seth MacFarlane, which is pretty cool. For me as a comedian, to work with a megastar of comedy -- that was a dream. I have tried to avoid "Westerns" in my career, but this was Seth MacFarlane and a huge movie with an all-star cast so I thought I have to take the opportunity. If nothing else it'll be a stepping stone to the more modern projects I'd prefer to do in the future.
How does the film treat the Native characters?
Seth's take on Indians was pretty right on. We weren't romanticized. We talked just like the other characters did -- but in Apache. And it's all very humorous. The "typical Hollywood" thing was a scene where Wes (Studi) and I were attempting to burn Seth's character at the stake. The film makes fun of the offensive racist stereotypes that are often seen in old Westerns.
Poster for the 2013 documentary 'Tapia,' by filmmaker Eddie Alcazar. Alcazar will direct 'Johnny,' for which Bitsui has signed on.
What's next for you?
I have a guest spot on an episode in the new NBC series The Night Shift. And I just wrapped a feature film called The Shangri La Suite. It's a 1970s-era Bonnie-and-Clyde-type drama suspense movie due out next year. I play a good cop gone bad, Sheriff Gingrass, set on getting his revenge and killing the main character.
I also have upcoming comedy shows at the Black Oak Casino in California on Saturday May 31st, and Parker, Arizona on June 5th, and the Santee Sioux Nation in Nebraska at the end of June.