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Stellar role: Albuquerque actor Tatanka Means plays FBI agent in ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

Editor’s note: Venue Plus continues “In Case You Didn’t Know,” a weekly feature with fun tidbits about New Mexicans and their projects.

Within a year of uncertainty, Tatanka Means has rolled on with the journey.

Through the pockets of darkness, there are bright lights beginning to shine for the Albuquerque-based actor.

Means is also the son of Indian activist Russell Means.

As the world shut down during the pandemic, Means was forced to slow down.

But he didn’t slow dow

Albuquerque-based Tatanka Means is currently working on “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which is being directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. (Courtesy of Terrance Clifford)

n too much.

“Everything is virtual for me,” he says. “My comedy shows have gone virtual. Things started picking up in October, when I was able to pick up a movie. And it was different. Testing nearly daily on set. Then it got shut down again. When we came back in February, the entire crew was different because they moved on to other projects.”

There are shimmers of brightness for Means.

He is going to be a father again – “pandemic baby,” he says with a laugh.

Means snagged a role in Martin Scorsese’s coming film “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.

The movie is based on David Grann’s bestselling 2017 nonfiction book “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” which depicts the FBI investigation that ensued after a string of murders on the newly oil-rich Osage Nation in Oklahoma during what some call the Reign of Terror in the 1920s.

Means will play FBI agent John Wren.

“The story drew me in,” Means says of his interest to the production. “I didn’t know about this story. I learned it was being turned into a movie, so I bought the book. The Osage were the richest per capita and during the Roaring ’20s, people were getting killed off and murders were happening. It’s definitely a story that needs to be told.”

Means was also drawn to Wren’s character because he’s an accomplished Native American.

“It’s definitely progression,” he says of the character. “There’s a movement in the industry that has been happening about the push to portray Native Americans properly. We are doctors, lawyers, FBI agents and more. It’s groundbreaking.”

Means will have to travel to Oklahoma for filming, though he says New Mexico was in the running for the film.

“Production just started last week,” he says. “This month, we’ll get rolling more and wrap at the end of August.”

Means is excited to work with the film legends in the movie.

He wants to continue his platform in entertainment as a way of giving hope to youths.

“I never want it to be about me,” he says. “There’s a lot of hard work that I’ve put in to get me to this point. I also want them to know that things rarely fall in your lap. I used to work in a movie theater in Los Angeles cleaning bathrooms. This was what it took to try and make my dream happen. Moving back to New Mexico has helped my career blossom even more. If you stick with it and work hard, good things will come.”

While Means gears up for a busy summer, here are five things about him you probably didn’t know:

1 “I love classic cars. From rez bombs, lowriders, hot rods to the import scene. I’m a classic car enthusiast, and I love to cruise. You might see me out cruising my ’64 Cadillac.”

2 “I own a small T-shirt company. I learned how to screen-print shirts from YouTube and started creating designs and selling them on my website. I bring them along to my shows so when people ask for merchandise, boom!”

3 “I worked at the casino for several years. I might have paid you out when you cashed out your winnings. Or I might’ve pulled up your car if you parked with valet!”

4 “I love to ride horses. I grew up riding horses with my mom and my grandpa. I used to compete in rodeo for a little while. I rode bulls until I broke my elbow.”

5 “I grew up boxing. I competed in New Mexico and Arizona at Silver Gloves and Golden Gloves and trained at the junior Olympic training center in Michigan. I still train for the workout. My first film gig, I was a stunt man doubling a boxer. That got my foot in the industry door.”

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