George R.R. Martin and Robert Redford Bring Navajo Police Thriller 'Dark Winds' to AMC

It will be based on Tony Hillerman's Leaphorn & Chee book series

BY Brock ThiessenPublished Jul 9, 2021

In George R.R. Martin's continued attempt to do anything but finish his Game of Thrones novels, he's announced yet another new TV project. Today AMC confirmed it has ordered up Dark Winds — a new series based on Leaphorn & Chee book series by Tony Hillerman.

Martin will executive produce the project alongside Robert Redford, Tina Elmo and Vince Gerardis for AMC Studios. Zahn McClarnon (Fargo, Westworld) will star, along with Kiowa Gordon (Roswell, New Mexico). Vince Calandra (Castle Rock, Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, Sharp Objects) will serve as showrunner and will also executive produce.

As AMC explains, Dark Winds will be "a psychological thriller that follows two Navajo police officers in the 1970s Southwest, as their search for clues in a grisly double murder case forces them to challenge their own spiritual beliefs and come to terms with the trauma of their pasts." 

Season 1 will include six episodes and is expected to premiere on AMC+ and AMC sometime in 2022.

"We are excited to welcome Chris Eyre, AMC Studios, and the industry's top executives for the production of Dark Winds, part of which will be filmed on the Navajo Nation," said Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez in a statement. "I also welcome my friend, Robert Redford, back to our Nation once again. This week, the Navajo Nation lifted more COVID-19 restrictions to welcome visitors and tourists back to Diné Bikéyah. We look forward to welcoming the film crew and we hope this will serve to draw more interest from production companies and draw more tourists to boost our economy and contribute to the 'Buy Navajo, Buy Local' initiative. Thank you to everyone involved in this great venture with the Great Navajo Nation!"

Martin added the following:

Tony Hillerman was one of the greats, as every mystery reader knows. Down here in the Southwest, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee are as iconic as Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Philip Marlowe, and Travis McGee. When my friends Robert Redford and Chris Eyre asked me to help bring Leaphorn and Chee back to television, I could not agree fast enough. We have great source material in Tony's novel 'Listening Woman,' a great pilot script from Graham Roland, a great director in Chris… and what a pair of leads, with Zahn McClarnon as Leaphorn and Kiowa Gordon as Chee! 

Our plan is to shoot in New Mexico, in and around Santa Fe and on the Navajo reservation, and we are bringing in as many Navajo and other Native Americans as possible, as writers, directors, cast, and crew, to capture all the magic and mystery and wonder of the Land of Enchantment. Thanks to AMC for making it possible. Tony Hillerman wrote a lot of amazing books, and it is our dream to adapt as many of them as we can.

McClarnon, meanwhile, said: "I am honoured to be asked to star as the lead in this innovative series for AMC and to Executive produce. To have the support and to be a part of a team which is led by two iconic visionaries as George R.R. Martin and Robert Redford is something to which I've always aspired. I believe as Indigenous people we are in a new era of progress in TV and film representation."

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