Chasing dreams: PWISD grad pursuing acting goals

Actor and stuntman Cody Jones recently began work on Dark Winds, an AMC series that is set to premiere in 2022.

WEATHERFORD — The distance between Perrin and the Wyoming border is roughly 800 miles.

It’s a long way, both geographically and metaphorically for Cody Jones, a 2000 Perrin-Whitt graduate who is now pursuing his dreams in the entertainment industry.

Born in Wyoming, Jones’ family eventually relocated back to the area where his dad was from, Mineral Wells.

Jones had an early introduction to the industry through his mother, Margie, who has a pretty extensive resume herself, with a background in acting and production.

In 2003, Margie got a tip regarding “Carson and Cody: The Hunter Heroes,” a TV movie that would be aired on the History Channel. Jones performed stunts in the documentary that details the lives of Christopher “Kit” Carson and William “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

“We rode horses and they filmed fast shots of us riding across the prairie,” he said.

The next year, his mother helped put together Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show, which toured around the midwest.

“That wasn’t so much film-related, but you’re riding horses, you meet people, and that’s when I found out about a show in New Mexico,” Jones said.

That show, Into the West, would be executive produced by Steven Spielberg and air on TNT. Jones performed stunts as a special skills horse rider in the show, after acing a riding test in New Mexico. 

That experience would open doors for Jones, who moved to Los Angeles in 2008 to further his stunt career.

“It sounds a lot neater than it is,” he said of the move. “It’s a lot of work to get into the business, and I got a job at Home Depot and worked there for the first year.

“There’s a saying that if somebody is an ‘overnight success,’ it usually means you’ve been at it for five or six years.”

Last month, Jones appeared on screen in Catch the Bullet, a Western filmed in Buffalo, Wyoming. The film, distributed by Lionsgate, had a limited release Sept. 10, and tells the story of a U.S. Marshal (Jay Pickett), who returns from a mission to find his father (Tom Skerritt) wounded and his son kidnapped by an outlaw. Pickett forms an alliance with a deputy and a Pawnee tracker, Chaska (Jones) to track the man down.

“These guys take his son and he finds me to guide him and track these guys down while riding through Sioux territory,” Jones said. “We’re trying to catch the bad guys but also being careful trying to get through the Indian territory.”

Filming wasn’t without its struggles, as it took place in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“That was just when people were trying to start back up and it was really nice to be working like that again,” Jones said. “All the actors were together on a ranch in Wyoming, so we were all in a bubble, quarantined together.”

While no longer in theaters, the film is available to watch on a variety of platforms, including Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV and Vudu.

You’ll notice a recurring theme in the roles and stunt activities Jones partakes in — the Native American is part Shoshone and Arapaho, though both he and his mother are enrolled with the Shoshone tribe. He also trained horses before he began doing stunt work.

His look and riding abilities were also what helped him nab a new gig with Dark Winds, a psychological thriller set to air next year.

The 1970s Western, ordered by AMC, is based on the book series Dark Winds, by Tony Hillerman, and features executive producers Robert Redford and George R.R. Martin, among others.

Jones will be doubling one of the show’s main actors and doing stunts in the first season. The six-episode show, which features Native American actors and writers, will be filmed largely in and around Native American lands.

“It deals with different happenings between a tribal police officer and a tribal police detective on the Navajo Reservation,” Jones said. “And if all goes well, it’ll get renewed for another season.”

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