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Drawing on his own off-camera ethnicity and cultural heritage, actor Gil Birmingham fell into a niche in Hollywood with numerous portrayals of Native Americans, in projects that occupied a broad spectrum of genres. A large-framed but not imposing figure who carried a distinguished presence, Birmingham landed his first major role in the 1987 horror opus House 2: The Second Story (as a warrior), then ushered in additional portrayals of Native Americans in efforts including the series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and Body & Soul and the small screen miniseries Dreamkeeper (2003) and Into the West (2005). He moved into big screen features in the mid-2000s, initially by extending his Native American typecast into a portrayal of an Incan warrior from South America in the fact-based Christian missionary drama End of the Spear (2005), then joined Ben Stiller and Dick Van Dyke for the big-budget, special effects-heavy comedy Night at the Museum (2006), and signed for a supporting role in the vampiric romance Twilight (2008).

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