Graham Greene (actor)

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Graham Greene

Greene in 1998
Born (1952-06-22) June 22, 1952 (age 70)
Years active1979–present
Hilary Blackmore
(m. 1994)

Graham Greene, CM (born June 22, 1952) is an Indigenous Canadian actor who has worked on stage, in film, and in TV productions in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He has achieved international fame for participating in Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves (1990), which earned him an Academy Award nomination. Other notable films include Thunderheart (1992), Maverick (1994), Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), The Green Mile (1999), Skins (2002), Transamerica (2005), Casino Jack (2010), Winter's Tale (2014), The Shack (2017), Wind River (2017) and Shadow Wolves (2019).

Early life and career[edit]

Greene is an Oneida born in Ohsweken, on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, the son of Lillian and John Greene, who was a paramedic and maintenance man.[1] He lived in Hamilton, Ontario, as a young man.[2] Before moving into acting, he worked as a draftsman, steelworker and welder.[3] He noted:

"...I was a welder because once you put your helmet down and struck the arc...they wouldn't bother you...And there was a fear of getting laid off when the contract runs out. If I'm going to be looking for work, I'd rather be acting".[4]

His first brushes with the entertainment industry came when he worked as an audio technician for rock bands based in Newfoundland and Labrador,[5] when he went by the alias "Mabes". According to Greene, musician Kelly Jay repeatedly pestered him to try out for a play. He told Jay, "Look, I’m not interested. We’ll cut cards. If I win, leave me alone. If you win, I’ll do the damn thing." After drawing a two of clubs, he relented.[6]

A common misconception is that he graduated from the Toronto-based Centre for Indigenous Theatre's Native Theatre School program. As he noted in a 2012 interview, he "helped run it, as executive director of a school-supporting local arts organization".[7] By the 1970s he began performing in professional theatre in Toronto and England and in 1976 he participated in the University of Western Ontario's touring workshop performance of James Reaney's Wacousta.[8]

His television debut was in an episode of The Great Detective in 1979,[9] and his screen debut was in 1983 in Running Brave.[10] On viewing his first television role, Greene stated that it was "awful", and that it prompted him to start learning to act as a profession.[7]



Greene frequently worked at the Native Earth Performing Arts, and is well known for his performance in Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing as the affable drunk Pierre St. Pierre.[11][6] He has also performed in The Crackwalker and History of the Village of the Small Huts.[12][13]

In 2007, he appeared as Shylock in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival production of The Merchant of Venice as well as Breakfast with Scot.[3]


In 1984 and 1986, Greene appeared in the First Nations' CBC TV series Spirit Bay as Pete "Baba" Green. The show was one of the first to show aboriginal life and the interactions between the native and white cultures.[citation needed]

In the early 1990s he found guest-star work several television series. As Leonard Quinhagak on Northern Exposure he portrayed a shaman that helped care for the residents. As a practitioner of shamanism, his character came into direct conflict with the show's other doctor, a traditionally trained professional that (initially) had little use for unorthodox ways.[14]

He was cast as Edgar "K.B." Montrose, an explosives enthusiast, on The Red Green Show. His character was asked what he thought of the movie Dances with Wolves, replying "...the native guy (himself as 'Kicking Bird') was OK. Should have gotten the Oscar. But the rest of it was a yawn!" Greene would portray this character periodically for the entire run of series, from 1994 through 2006.[15]

In 1992, Greene played the role of Ishi, the last Yahi, in the HBO drama The Last of His Tribe,[16] and in 1994, he began appearing as Mr. Crabby Tree in the children's series The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon. When asked how he landed the role resulting in being ensconced in a foam tree costume, he stated "‘Well, never answer the phone before 9 a.m. I was lounging around the house doing nothing, I told my agent I need some work. I got offered Mr. Crabby Tree, said sure."[6]

Greene guested on the sketch comedy show Royal Canadian Air Farce in 1994.[17] Between 1997 and 2001 he hosted the reality crime documentary show Exhibit A: Secrets of Forensic Science.[18]

He starred in the short-lived television series Wolf Lake in 2001 as Sherman Blackstone along Lou Diamond Phillips. In 2002 and 2004, he co-starred in two made-for-TV films that were an attempt at launching a revival of the long-running Canadian series The Beachcombers.[19] He also guest starred in five episodes of Being Erica as Dr. Arthur in 2010-11.

He appeared as himself in a parody of the famous Lakota-brand pain reliever commercials, on CBC Television's Rick Mercer Report.[20]

In 2006, Greene presented the documentary series The War that Made America, about the Seven Years' War (French and Indian War) of the mid–18th century in North America.

He was a guest star in an episode of the TV series Numb3rs, as a First Nations chief.

At the urging of actor Lou Diamond Phillips, Greene was cast as a recurring guest star on Longmire, which ran for six seasons from 2012 to 2017 on A&E and Netflix. As Malachi Strand, Greene was able to enjoy playing a villain, with the actor stating "Playing villains is fun. Being nice all the time; it’s boring".[21]


Dances with Wolves[edit]

Greene's Academy Award–nominated role as Kicking Bird (Lakota: Ziŋtká Nagwáka) in the 1990 film Dances with Wolves showcased his talents to audiences beyond his native Canada.[22] In an interview with CineMovie, Greene recounts a story of being tossed from a horse during production. When director Costner asked if he wanted a break, the actor retorted that he was more interested in finding the horse for payback.[23] He stated that it was difficult for him to learn how to speak the Lakota language properly. Having not grown up speaking a native language, he said "...‘I couldn’t figure out how they ordered their language. Its structure is totally foreign to English or French." Intensively studying and working with a dialect coach finally succeeded. As noted in a 1994 Playback interview,

"Greene struggled to learn the language phonetically, sitting in his hotel room for eight hours a day. He had tapes, and a dialogue coach who was with him and on his case every second. It took him two weeks to learn all the dialogue, 'then I’d work in my hotel room until two in the morning, going through the speeches. Next morning I couldn’t remember any of it! I was nearly in tears!’ He’d go back to the beginning, and slowly, finally it came."[7]

The actor stated that he had no troubles with Costner as a director, with one exception:

“He did fine,” Greene says. “We stayed out of his way and let him make his decisions. I only questioned him once, [when Kicking Bird] was going nuts looking for a peace pipe. I said, ‘He’s a medicine person. He would never lose a peace pipe. Why do you want me to do that?’ He said, ‘Because it looks good.’ I said, ‘Good enough.’”[21]

In that same interview, he stated that being at the Academy Award ceremony was difficult. "I was scared to death. I thought, I don’t belong here! I’m just a poor, dumb country boy.", and he was particularly intimidated by the other actors that surrounded him. "I’m in awe of good actors".[7]

He appeared in the contemporary action-mystery film, Thunderheart (1992), playing Walter Crow Horse, a gruff, savvy local cop living on an Indian reservation. He was quick to sign up for the movie, stating "I love The Badlands. My agent said, ‘I got a film for you. It’s in South Dakota. And you have to ride a motorcycle.’ I said, ‘I’m in.’ ‘Want to read it?’ ‘Don’t have to'."[21]

In 1994's Maverick, Greene elicited good reviews as the sidekick to Mel Gibson. At a screening of the movie the LA Times noted that Greene, "[as a] thoroughly modern Native American who exploits his position as a tourist attraction for Russian adventurers", got the most laughs.[24]

Greene also acted alongside Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson in the 1995 film Die Hard with a Vengeance, where he played Detective Joe Lambert.

The Green Mile[edit]

Greene was featured as Arlen Bitterbuck who was convicted of murder, awaiting execution on death row in the Oscar-nominated The Green Mile (1999). The character was an elder of the Washita Tribe and a member of a Cherokee Council,[25] his nickname was "The Chief".[26] The character's execution is the first witnessed in the movie, and is depicted from start to finish. As it is the first depiction of an execution in the movie, Greene's death is noted as being a fairly accurate portrayal of the procedure.[27]

Greene co-starred as Slick Nakai with Adam Beach and Wes Studi in the film A Thief of Time (2004) and Coyote Waits, both adapted from Tony Hillerman novels of the same names and produced by Robert Redford.


In 2005, he played the potential love interest of the female lead in Transamerica. A review of the movie praises Greene's performance as having "charming earthiness" but also notes that his character is allowed to find the transgender character attractive as "he's allowed to be open-minded because he's a Navajo -- in other words, a spiritually open-minded outsider, as opposed to your typical Middle American."[28]

Greene worked with Aaron Sorkin on Molly's Game in 2017. In his role as a judge, the actor recalled "Aaron, the director, was looking at me sitting behind the bench. I had a puzzled look on my face. He said, ‘Are you all right?’ I said, ‘Yeah. I’ve just never seen the bench from this side before.’”[21]

Greene was cast in the Marvel movie spin-off Echo in 2022.[29]

Other work[edit]

Greene provided the pre-recorded narration for Tecumseh!, the highly acclaimed outdoor show held in Ohio, based upon the life of the illustrious Shawnee chief of that name. He portrayed Sitting Bull in a short Historica vignette.[30]

In 2018, Greene provided the voice of the beleaguered Native-American elder Chief Rains Fall in the western-themed video game Red Dead Redemption 2.[31]

Personal life[edit]

Greene and his wife Hilary Blackmore live outside of Toronto with a "small army of cats".[13] They were married in 1990, and have four children together.[citation needed] He enjoys writing, building boats and playing golf, noting "I just want to go and play, I don't care who's looking. It's a game where you get to play against yourself".[4][13] He has stated that he has no interest in migrating south to California for roles. "There’s no reason to live there. A working actor can live anywhere as long as you have a phone, a fax, and know where the airport is."[6] Regarding his time playing Mr. Crabby Tree (and the follow up role in the pre-teen show Eric's World) he noted "I spent a year paying penance doing kids’ shows."

When discussing roles of native people, Greene noted that he would like to see depictions of "his people" as more than stoic, "My people are very funny".[23]

In 1997, Greene suffered a major depressive episode, and had to be hospitalized after a police encounter.[32] He recovered after help from Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson[citation needed].

In June 2008, he was awarded an honorary doctor of law degree from the Brantford campus of Wilfrid Laurier University.[33]

He was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2015.[34]



Year Title Role Notes
1983 Running Brave Eddie
1985 Revolution Ongwata
1989 Powwow Highway Vietnam Veteran
1990 Dances with Wolves Kicking Bird
1990 Lost in the Barrens Mewasin
1991 Clearcut Arthur
1992 Thunderheart Walter Crow Horse
Rain Without Thunder Author on History
1993 Benefit of the Doubt Calhoun
1994 Camilla Hunt Weller
Savage Land Skyano
Maverick Joseph
North Alaskan Dad
1995 Die Hard with a Vengeance Detective Joe Lambert
1997 The Education of Little Tree Willow John
1998 Shattered Image Detective
1999 Grey Owl Jim Bernard
The Green Mile Arlen Bitterbuck
Misery Harbour Burly
2000 Desire Connor
2001 Lost and Delirious Joe Menzies
Christmas in the Clouds Earl
2002 Duct Tape Forever Edgar K. B. Montrose
Snow Dogs Peter Yellowbear
Skins Mogie Yellow Lodge
2004 Phil the Alien Wolf
2005 Transamerica Calvin Many Goats
2007 All Hat Jim Burns
Just Buried Henry Sanipass
Breakfast with Scot Bud Wilson
2008 Turok: Son of Stone Lost Land Shaman / Elder #1 Voice role
2009 The Twilight Saga: New Moon Harry Clearwater
2010 Casino Jack Bernie Sprague
Gunless Two Dogs
2013 Chasing Shakespeare Mr. Mountain
Atlantic Rim Admiral Hadley Direct to video
Maïna Mishte-Napeu
2014 Winter's Tale Humpstone John
Corner Gas: The Movie Fisherman
2017 Wind River Tribal Police Chief Ben Shoyo
The Shack Male Papa
Molly's Game Judge Dustin Foxman
2018 Through Black Spruce Leo
2019 Astronaut Len
2020 A Dark Foe The Cradle
2021 Antlers Warren Stokes
Defining Moments Dr. Kelly
The Wolf and the Lion Joe


Year Title Role Notes
1981 Read All About It! John Norton 1 episode
1986 Spirit Bay Pete "Baba" Green 1 episode
1986-1988 The Campbells Iroquois Chief 3 episodes
1987 Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future Cherokee 1 episode
1987 Street Legal Paulo 1 episode
1988 9B Dan Jackson Miniseries, 5 episodes
1989 Where the Spirit Lives Komi's Father Television film
1991 L.A. Law Dan Wauneka 1 episode
1992; 1994 Murder, She Wrote Sheriff Sam Keeyani / Peter Henderson 2 episodes
1992 The Last of His Tribe Ishi Television film
1992-1993 Northern Exposure Leonard Recurring role, 5 episodes
1993 Cooperstown Raymond Maracle Television film
1993 North of 60 Rico Nez 1 episode
1993 The Broken Chain Peace Maker (Spirit) Television film
1994-1997 The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon Mr. Crabby Tree Recurring role, 17 episodes
1994-2006 The Red Green Show Edgar K. B. Montrose Recurring role, 19 episodes
1994 Lonesome Dove: The Series Red Hawk 3 episodes
1995 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Chief Brown Bear Voice role, 1 episode
1996 The Outer Limits Chief Weapons Officer 1 episode
1996 The Pathfinder Chingachgook Television film
1997-2001 Exhibit A: Secrets of Forensic Science Himself - Host Main role, 65 episodes
2000 Big Wolf on Campus Ferryman 1 episode
2000-2001 Cover Me Michael Nighthorse 4 episodes
2001-2002 Wolf Lake Mr. Sherman Blackstone Main role, 9 episodes
2002 The New Beachcombers Colin Reid Television film
2003 Mister Sterling Senior Senator Jackson 1 episode
2003 Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion Elijah Cobb Miniseries, 2 episodes
2005 The Collector George 1 episode
2005 Spirit Bear: The Simon Jackson Story Lloyd Blackburn Television film
2005 Into the West Conquering Bear Miniseries, 1 episode
2005 Numb3rs Chief James Clearwater 1 episode
2005 Buffalo Dreams John Blackhorse Television film
2006 This is Wonderland Paul Hilliard 1 episode
2010-2011 Being Erica Dr. Arthur Recurring role, 5 episodes
2013 Family Tree Chief Running Bull 1 episode
2013-2015 Defiance Rafe McCawley Main role, 28 episodes
2014-2017 Longmire Malachi Strand Recurring role, 12 episodes
2018 Riverdale Thomas Topaz 1 episode
2018 The Detour Narvin 3 episodes
2019 Project Blue Book David 1 episode
2019 Goliath Littlecrow Recurring role, 7 episodes
2021 American Gods Whiskey Jack 2 episodes
2022 1883 Spotted Eagle Miniseries, 1 episode
2023 The Last of Us Marlon Episode: "Kin"
2023 Echo Upcoming series

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2018 Red Dead Redemption 2 Rains Fall Voice only

Awards and nominations[edit]

Years Award Category Production Result
1989 Dora Mavor Moore Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Leading Role[35] Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing.
1991 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor[36] Dances with Wolves Nominated
1994 Gemini Awards Best Performance in a Children's or Youth Program or Series The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon Won
Best Guest Performance in a Series by an Actor or Actress North of 60 Nominated
2000 Grammy Awards Best Spoken Word Album for Children[37] Listen to the Storyteller Won
2004 Gemini Awards Earle Grey Award[38] Lifetime Achievement Won
2006 Reelworld Film Festival Award of Excellence[39] Won
2016 RNCI Red Nation Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor Longmire Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Graham Greene bio". Encyclopedia of World Biography. April 18, 2006.
  2. ^ Hemsworth, Wade (April 18, 2006). "The Greatest Hamiltonian". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia - Greene, Graham". Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Kramer, Gary M. (July 28, 2021). "Actor Graham Greene on how fear & golf relate: "It's a game where you get to play against yourself"". Salon. Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  5. ^ Shea, Courtney (March 3, 2017). "Graham Greene: The RD Interview". Reader's Digest Canada. Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d "On Location Preview". August 15, 1994. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d "One of Canada's most gifted, iconic actors". Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  8. ^ Miller, Mary Jane (January 1, 1981). "James Reaney, "Wacousta!": A melodrama in three acts with a description of its development in workshops". Theatre Research in Canada. 2 (1): 71–75. doi:10.3138/tric.2.1.71. ISSN 1196-1198.
  9. ^ "The Great Detective" The Black Curse (TV Episode 1979) - IMDb, retrieved December 13, 2022
  10. ^ Running Brave (1983) - IMDb, retrieved December 13, 2022
  11. ^ " Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing". Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  12. ^ "Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia - The Crackwalker". Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  13. ^ a b c Graham Greene | TeAta, retrieved December 14, 2022
  14. ^ "Northern Exposure: Leonard Quinhagak". Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  15. ^ "Graham Greene". IMDb. Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  16. ^ Higgins, Bill (March 20, 1992). "Makers of HBO's 'Tribe' Given a Warm Reception". Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ "» The Royal Canadian Air Farce". Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on January 3, 2022. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  18. ^ Exhibit A: Secrets of Forensic Science (TV Series 1997–2001) - IMDb, retrieved December 14, 2022
  19. ^ "'The Beachcombers' at 50: Star Jackson Davies Reflects on the Classic Canadian Series". Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  20. ^ Lakota Spoof, retrieved December 14, 2022
  21. ^ a b c d Parke, Henry C. "From Kicking Bird to Malachi". True West Magazine. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  22. ^ "Busy Actor Has Little Time to Celebrate Oscar Nomination". Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  23. ^ a b Haas, Lupe R. "Actor Graham Greene Reflects On His Long Career, His Latest Role As A Killer, and the Worst Films About Native Americans". CineMovie. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  24. ^ "Western Humor of 'Maverick' Is Aces: No Bluffing Needed". Los Angeles Times. May 26, 1994. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  25. ^ szfreiberger (February 4, 2022). "The Green Mile by Stephen King". Doc's Books. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  26. ^ "LitCharts". LitCharts. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  27. ^ Dyer, Emilie (2011). Execution ritual: Media representations of execution and the social construction of public opinion regarding the death penalty (MA thesis). University of Louisville. doi:10.18297/etd/388 – via ThinkIR.
  28. ^ Zacharek, Stephanie (December 2, 2005). ""Transamerica"". Salon. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  29. ^ "Marvel's Echo: Oscar Nominee Graham Greene Cast in Hawkeye Spinoff". TV Shows. Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  30. ^ "First Nations: Sitting Bull". Historica. Archived from the original on March 17, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2007.
  31. ^ Goldberg, Harold (October 14, 2018). "The Making of Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption 2". Vulture. Retrieved May 29, 2022.
  32. ^ Brown, Barry. "Actor Graham Greene Treated After Possible Suicide Attempt". Buffalo News. Retrieved December 13, 2022.(subscription required)
  33. ^ "Wilfrid Laurier Headlines". Archived from the original on July 21, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
  34. ^ "Four Nova Scotians among Order of Canada honourees". The Chronicle-Herald. July 1, 2015. Archived from the original on July 1, 2015. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  35. ^ "TAPA - Recipients". April 13, 2021. Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  36. ^ Odden, Jeremy (March 22, 2012), Graham Greene as Edgar Montrose references Dances With Wolves, archived from the original on November 9, 2019, retrieved January 1, 2018
  37. ^ Retrieved December 13, 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  38. ^ Dixon, Guy (November 17, 2004). "Greene getting Grey honours at Gemini Awards". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  39. ^ "The Sixth Annual Reelworld Film Festival" (PDF). Reelworld Screen Institute. 2006.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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