The star of Netflix’s Family Reunion earns his spurs in the new Western from Broken Trail director Water Hill.
Actor Warren Burke was on the run — literally — when we caught up with him earlier this week to talk about his standout performance Sgt. Alonzo Poe, a Black cavalryman torn between duty and friendship in Dead for a Dollar, the new Western directed by the great Walter Hill (The Long Riders, Geronimo: An American Legend).
Specifically: Burke — currently on view in the Netflix sitcom Family Reunion — graciously Zoomed into the C&I Studio on his iPhone while rushing to a meeting in Los Angeles. He was understandably eager to chat because he is proud of his work on Dead for a Dollar, which opens this weekend in theaters and on digital platforms, and happy to share stories about working with Hill and two-time Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Inglourious Basterds), preparing to ride horses — and brandish bullwhips! — while in character, and finding contemporary relevance in a period drama that neatly balances racial and sexual politics with classical Western traditions.
The plot? It’s 1897 when veteran bounty hunter Max Borlund (Waltz) journeys deep into Mexico, where he encounters professional gambler and outlaw Joe Cribbens (Willem Dafoe) — a sworn enemy he sent to prison years earlier. Max is on a mission to find and return Rachel Kidd (Rachel Brosnahan), the hostage wife of a wealthy Santa Fe businessman. But after learning Mrs. Kidd actually isn’t a hostage, but instead fleeing from an abusive marriage with the help of AWOL Black cavalryman Elijah Jones (Brandon Scott), Max is faced with a choice: Finish the dishonest job he’s been hired to do, or stand aside while ruthless mercenary outlaws and his long-time rival close in. Max and his partner Sgt. Alonzo Poe (Burke) — who just happens to be Jones’ conflicted buddy — have nothing to gain if they resist. Nothing, that is, except their honor.