Native Arts Presents Indian Market Magazine 2016 | Digital Edition

Page 42

Zahn McClarnon electric mystery by Anne Maclachlan

Marisa quinn

Chris Large/FX

Zahn McClarnon played Hanzee Dent, one of his best known and most villainous characters, on the second season of FX TV’s Fargo.

from the writers he highly praises, but it’s there, whether he is portraying a serial killer like Dent (who murders in the way ordinary people turn pages in a book) or a dedicated angry-hornet cop like Mathias, who is passionately protective of what he calls “my Rez.” In real life, McClarnon is a respected A-level racquetball player who trains regularly, and who staunchly supports his friends and colleagues in their various endeavors. Alluding to a difficult past, McClarnon says he will draw on that to give his more dangerous characters some depth, explaining, “I’m able to tap into that darker side pretty easily, I think.” He also, somehow, imparts a sort of offscreen presence to these characters—even when they’re not seen, they are decidedly up to something. (“Good, then I’m doing my job,” McClarnon smiles.) Hanzee Dent, for example, is that scary spider in the living room; bad enough when it’s lurking in the corner where you can see it, but even worse when you don’t know where it just disappeared. Longmire’s “Team Mathias” fans enjoy speculating on his character’s personal life, and on what’s behind the friction between the tribal cop and Standing Bear. In filmmaker Sterlin Harjo’s Mekko (see page 39), as the hair-raising street demon Bill—well, we probably don’t really want to know what’s fermenting offscreen there. Do these characters follow him home? McClarnon says he can generally leave them at work, but clearly he finds Mekko’s Bill disturbing. He hesitates a beat or two. “There were some moments where I felt a little uncomfortable,” he says slowly. “Probably mainly with the brutality of what Bill did to the other characters. That brutality … But no, I’m able to shake that off pretty easily … It’s just acting.” And that, he continues, is the joy of it all.

Watching Zahn McClarnon, whether he’s onscreen or sipping coffee across from you in Santa Fe, is simply electrifying. He’s like a quietly powerful generator, made of barely contained energy. Zahn McClarnon McClarnon has been working steadily as (Hunkpapa Lakota / Irish), an actor for a couple of decades. In Santa is currently filming the role of Toshaway in the Fe this spring to continue playing the role AMC drama The Son. of Cheyenne Tribal Police Chief Mathias in Netflix’s fifth season of Longmire (which wrapped in June and premieres in September), McClarnon, with a half-smile, reveals only one word about the show’s direction: “Loyalty.” He does promise a little more about the antagonistic relationship between his character and that of Henry Standing Bear, played by Lou Diamond Phillips. Apart from that, he is as silent as his famously villainous character Hanzee Dent on the FX series Fargo. There’s a common theme among all of McClarnon’s characters: commitment. It’s difficult to say whether that comes from McClarnon himself or 40

Indian Market Magazine

Chuck Foxen

McClarnon won the 2015 American Indian Movie Award for best supporting actor in the role of Bill in Sterlin Harjo’s Mekko (see page 39).