Born in San Antonio, Texas, Gil Birmingham (Comanche) spent his formative years moving from state to state, due to his father’s military career. The eldest of five children, Gil grew up in Texas, Alaska, Hawaii and Kentucky, eventually ending up in California which he now calls home. As a child, he first dreamed of a music career after picking up his first guitar at age 10. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix served as the early inspiration for Gil’s musical style, which ranges from Blues and R&B, to Rock. Over the years, he has traveled across the country, singing and playing guitar.
Gil graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California but a 9-to-5 job just didn’t satisfy his artistict temperament. In his spare time, Gil began bodybuilding and soon entered a number of local bodybuilding contests. His sculpted physique led to his first acting experience when he was cast opposite Diana Ross in her music video, “Muscles.” Through this first acting experience, Gil found that acting was an extension of creative expression, just like his music. He began to seriously study acting under the tutelage of highly regarded acting coaches Larry Moss and Charles Conrad. He landed the role of Conan the Barbarian at Universal Studios Theme Park in Hollywood, California.
Gil made his television debut in an episode of “Riptide,” and went on to star in television shows, including an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Gil starred as a series regular in the medical drama “Body & Soul,” starring Peter Strauss, and received a First American in the Arts (FAITA) award for “Outstanding Performance in a Recurring Role” for his portrayal of Oz in that series. Over the years, Gil has made guest appearances on "The Lying Game," "Vegas," “Castle,” "Veronica Mars,” and “The Mentalist.”
Birmingham’s credits include appearances in TV movies, including starring with Dean Cain in Gentle Ben: In 2005, Gil won the American Indian LA Film and Television Award for “Outstanding Supporting Role” in “Dreamkeeper,” a two-part miniseries. In the role of Sam,. After the success of “Dreamkeeper,” Gil played Sharp Claw in the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, “Love’s Long Journey.”
Personally cast by Stephen Spielberg in the six-part miniseries “Into the West,” Gil offered a gripping portrayal of the older Dogstar. One of his many fine performances, he adeptly portrayed Dogstar from adulthood through his elderly years. Through his eyes, viewers witness the atrocities and devastation that occurred at Wounded Knee in 1890.
On film, a pivotal role in his career was playing Manny Deadmarsh, in The Doe Boy, which won the Sundance International Filmmaker’s Award in 2001. Birmingham played the alcoholic, abusive father of Twilight castmate Chaske Spencer in Skins, directed by Chris Eyre, and the vengeful tribesman Moipa in End of the Spear.
Longing to battle vampires again after “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Gil joined the werewolf pack as Billy Black, chief of the Quileute tribe, in the blockbuster hits, Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse, based on the best-selling books by Stephenie Meyer. As Jacob Black’s father, Billy, confined to a wheelchair, is a descendant of a long line of magical chieftains. Honored to be among a cast of talented young actors, such as Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner, Gil returned as Billy for the last sequel, Breaking Dawn.
Gil appeared in Love Ranch, starring Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci. Gil also starred with Johnny Depp in animated film called Rango, released in early 2011, and will appear again with Depp and Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger in 2013.
Gil joined Twilight Saga Series cast mate Chaske Spencer in the independent film Shouting Secrets, along with Tantoo Cardinal and Tonantzin Carmelo. He appeared in Crooked Arrows with Brandon Routh, released in 2012.
In his spare time, Gil enjoys playing the guitar and performing, and embracing nature and the unbelievable beauty of mother earth, whether it be in the California mountains or in the incredible tropical setting of Hawaii. Ever thankful and honored for the opportunities that have been presented to him in his acting career, Gil is most appreciative of his growing number of loyal fans who continue to support him as he pursues his passion.