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"The Killing".

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Interview: Joel Kinnaman investigates THE KILLING Season 2
THE KILLING begins its second season tonight, Sunday, on AMC in a two-hour block starting at 8 PM before settling into its regular timeslot at 9 PM next Sunday. Based on the hit Danish series FORBRYDELSEN and developed for American television by Veena Sud. THE KILLING Season 2 follows the homicide investigation of the murder of Seattle-area teenager Rosie Larsen, as well as the crimes devastating effect on her family. A lot of people were irate that the first season ended without the killer being revealed (perhaps especially because the advertising had so strongly implied the revelation would occur).

However, virtually no one is arguing with the performances, especially those of Mireille Enos as lead detective Sarah Linden and Joel Kinnaman as her partner, Stephen Holder, both of whom are remarkable in their quiet realism. Its unclear how their partnership will proceed in Season Two, as Season One ended with Linden discovering that Holder had tampered with evidence to make it look as though mayoral candidate Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) had committed the murder.

Kinnaman was born Charles Joel Nordstrom (he performed his first few acting roles under the name) in Stockholm, Sweden. His mother Bille is Swedish and his father Steve Kinnaman is originally from the U.S., providing Kinnaman with U.S./Swedish dual citizenship. The actor starred in several Swedish film and TV series, including the popular JOHN FALK movies as Frank Wagner. His U.S.-made credits include the remake of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE DARKEST HOUR, the upcoming SAFE HOUSE, and hes about to play the title role in the remake of ROBOCOP.

During this interview, Kinnaman has an odd device in his hand that he sometimes brings to his mouth. The object is cylindrical and looks something like a ballpoint pen, with a flat plastic end that is alternately a flat gray or orange. When it does the latter, a scentless pale vapor emerges from Kinnamans mouth.

ASSIGNMENT X: I have to ask what is that?

JOEL KINNAMAN: Its an electronic cigarette its revolutionary. Its fantastic, I love it. You bring it to your face, but theres no carbon monoxide, theres no tar. Its vapor.

AX: Were you already familiar with the original FORBRYDELSEN series when you became involved with THE KILLING?

KINNAMAN: Yeah. Well, when I was shooting the pilot, I watched it. And I was also told that my character was completely different from the original. Some of the actors that didnt want to be too influenced by the original, so they didnt watch it. I had nothing to fear, so I watched it all in, like, two days. I thought it was very, very compelling. I watched it on my knees, crying with my whole face. I found it really moving, how they showed the grief of the family and how they went through that loss was really moving, and it was such a smart way to keep people invested with the crime investigation. You really feel the repercussions that it has on the family. And its funny I was talking with my parents right after I was cast and I was telling them about this show. That sounds similar wait. Because it was a huge hit in Demark, but it was also a huge hit in Sweden, the Danish version. And there it was called BROTLEF (THE CRIME). And they had watched it like slaves, they had seen every episode. So they were really thrilled that I was going to be in it.

AX: In FORBRYDELSEN, the crime is solved at the end of the first season

KINNAMAN: Their first season was actually two seasons. [The equivalent number of episodes to the U.S. first season] was their midseason break. It was twenty one-hour episodes, and we have twenty-six forty-five-minute episodes, so the timing is almost exact. And after ten episodes, there was another political figure that killed himself. And we thought the crime was solved, but then in that same episode, [the lead detective] found another huge clue, so we understood, okay, this crime has not been solved yet. So it had sort of the same structure, but ours was a little bit more dramatic.


Joel Kinnaman plays Stephen Holder on THE KILLING - Season 2 | 2012 AMC/Carole Segal
AX: You said your character Holder is was very different from the equivalent character in the original. Did you know, and if so, how far ahead did you know that he was going to tamper with the evidence?

KINNAMAN: I found out when I read it the first time, when we got the sript. I was a bit surprised, too.

AX: Did you get the first-seas on scripts as one giant thirteen-episode bunch, or at the normal pace of U.S. TV production?

KINNAMAN: Normal production pace.

AX: When you read it, did you think, I did what?

KINNAMAN: Yeah. And were just going to have to find out if Holders a good guy or a bad guy, but if you want to find out, youve got to tune in [laughs].

AX: Do you feel like it would have helped your first-season performance in any way to know that Holder was going to tamper with the evidence before you got that sript, or do you think that Holder surprised himself by doing that?

KINNAMAN: I think that its quite characteristic.

AX: What do you feel is the core of Holder, and do you feel that it changes from Season One to Season Two?

KINNAMAN: No, no. What Ive found most intriguing about playing this character is his flaws. Hes battling his addiction, hes a fragile person but very intelligent, hes not very socially equipped, hes been raised by his sister, whos just a couple years older than him, hes never had a father, his mother is just out of the picture. So he doesnt have that social upbringing that could make him know how to behave in a different situation. So hes who he is in every situation and thats what I like the most about him.

AX: Did you have any problems with Holders Washington State accent in the beginning? Your normal speaking voice sounds almost American anyway. So was that at all difficult for you, was that something youd been working on for awhile or did that just come naturally?

KINNAMAN: No, I was working on it. My fathers American, so I have an ear to how its supposed to sound, and obviously, Holder doesnt speak as I do, hes got his own accent. I think in the first episode and maybe in the second, I have a couple of slips. And usually Americans usually dont hear it its Swedes that hear it. And theyre really harsh on that Yeah, youre trying to sound American. But Holders accent is kind of a mishmash of the different influences that I have that in my perspective would match his background and upbringing and his social ways in the social ladder.

AX: And did you do any research, either when you got the role, or is anything coming up in Season Two that you had to research?

KINNAMAN: I havent done any research for the second season, because the characters in place. But for the first season, yes, I did extensive research. My research for the character was very much based on his addiction, that world and that state of mind. I went to a lot of [Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous] meetings.

AX: What did you learn there?

KINNAMAN: Well, there was a point where I was actually feeling like, Damn, I want to be an alcoholic, too! [laughs] Because it really is a beautiful place. Its a place where its cool to be vulnerable, and I find that so appealing. And you get wonderful stories probably not all of them are true, and sometimes I go there with a friend who was a regular at AA [Alcoholics Anonymous], and Id watch somebody speak, and Id be moved to tears, and when we would get out of there, he was like, That guy was full of shit. [laughs] And of course, when youve been there for meetings several times a week for ten years, you sort of understand people are always making up stories, but its a place where you can be vulnerable and thats appreciated. Theres a really strong sense of community and care for each other and I really understand why it works.

AX: Is that comparable in any way to being an actor on a film set, in terms of it being safe to be vulnerable?

KINNAMAN: No. It doesnt compare. In the sense of being vulnerable, maybe, a little bit, but its so much bigger and the stakes are so much higher [at the real-life meetings].

AX: Do you have a favorite scene for yourself from first season?

KINNAMAN: Yeah, I really liked when Holder was at the NA [Narcotics Anonymous] meeting. I really enjoyed that.
In Part Two of our interview with actor Joel Kinnaman, he talks more about his portrayal of Detective Stephen Holder on Season Two of AMCs THE KILLING (Sundays at 9 PM), plus how his upcoming role as the lead in the remake of ROBOCOP will differ from the original.

AX: Who do you think is a better cop, Holder or his partner Sarah Linden?

KINNAMAN: She has a very strong, intuitive strength and she kind of goes into the mind of the killer, and Holder comes from the street and thats how he reasons and he can tell a liar when he sees one. So I think they compliment each other really well.

AX: Do you and Mireille Enos, who plays Linden, have conversations about how youre going to do scenes together, or do you just hit the set and see how you work with each other as you do the work?

KINNAMAN: Were really good friends and so if were in a scene that we have questions about, then well talk about it, but our chemistry is so good that we always find a way to work it out. Usually, we actually work it out while were doing it. Its very easy. We both find it very easy to play off each other, so its a very positive work relationship.

AX: Some people were unhappy that Rosie Larsens murder was unsolved at the end of the season, some because they really wanted a resolution and some because they felt they had been promised a resolution

KINNAMAN: Of course, youre following a whodunit and you thought you were being promised the resolution. I understand that people got [disappointed]. I think people really thought that they would tune in for the last episode to find out who killed Rosie Larsen. Nobody expected that [the reaction to not having the killer revealed] was going to be this strong [laughs]. Thats also a testament that people were really engaged in it. And I think they were engaged not just because of finding out who did it they also liked the storytelling and they felt for the characters. And I think thats also the biggest reason that theyre going to come back. I really think the only mistake that was made was that they mismanaged the expectation, because the storyline was always over two seasons, the same way as it was in the Danish version. It follows the timeframe in that storyline exactly.

AX: So well find out who the killer is at the end of this season?

KINNAMAN: Mm-hmm.

AX: Do you feel that the second season will be very different from the first season?

KINNAMAN: I think [executive producer/show runner] Veena Sud put it really well when she said that the first season was all about questions and the second season was all about answers, because I personally felt that there were a couple of strings of the first season that I think the writing in some ways became a little manipulative, and that wasnt on par with the rest of the tone of the show, and now that Ive been reading all the episodes for the second season, Ive been really proud and really happy, because I think they acknowledge that and I think theyve adjusted that in the second season. I mean, were going to go on long [arcs] and were going to suspect people that arent [guilty of the murder], but its all being tied together really beautifully. I think the writing in the second season has been a lot stronger than the first season.

AX: Do you feel THE KILLING has a political overview or undertones?

KINNAMAN: Well, its definitely a look at society and trying to be honest about it. Its not a political show in that way and it does touch on the political system and how people make concessions on their morals to retain the power. That was what was so beautiful about THE WIRE, and so intelligent in how the writing was for every season, that it went to the core of how power always corrupts peoples good intentions. As soon as you have reached a level of power, then youre doing everything you can to maintain that power, and then you start to not take risks and grow into the root of the problem. I mean, we do touch on that, but thats not what this show is about. But I think that what this show has I mean, were so over-washed with violence and murders and it becomes so day to day and we forget what the implications have for a family when they go through a crime like this. So I think in that sense, it puts the spotlight on what actually happens when you see on the news every day, somebody murders and there are heinous crimes. It just washes by, but this really spotlights what actually happens.

AX: you were just in a film about a very different sort of murder investigation, the American-made remake THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, based on Stieg Larssons novel. Did you think the Swedish version was better than the American version?

KINNAMAN: Oh, I thought it most definitely wasnt. Sometimes I think American viewers give European films a little bit too much credit. It feels like theyre more artistic just because theyre in a foreign language, and I have to say that I thought the Swedish version I have a lot of friends who were in it was a perfect example and a very good attempt of a Swedish movie to be an American film. It didnt take any risks, the photography is golden measure in almost every frame, it wasnt a bold movie in any way. I thought it was good. But [director David] Finchers [English-language] version, I think, had a lot more depth and a core to it.

AX: Youre about to start filming as the lead in the remake of ROBOCOP. Do you have any concerns about trying to get your performance to read from inside the Robocop costume?

KINNAMAN: Well, we havent gotten into any of that yet, but I think from an acting standpoint, the new version is a lot more interesting than the old one. Its much more of a demanding acting piece than the first one was. The costume is different. I think the visor is going to be see-through. Youll see my eyes.

AX: Do you think youll be going back and forth between TV and film from now on?

KINNAMAN: I have a six-year contract with [THE KILLING]. So Im not allowed to do [other] TV. I wasnt really intending on doing TV from the start, but this was such a quality piece, so I really wanted to be a part of it. I think TV has been the place where the most intelligent and best storytelling has been in American cinema and TV. This has been a really good place to show that I can hold a character and do a complex person. Im really enjoying myself. But while Im doing the show, I dont do any other TV.

AX: Do you know what the mystery is going to be for the third season of THE KILLING, if there is one?

KINNAMAN: I do. Youll find out if you stay tuned.

AX: Anything else youd like to say about THE KILLING?

KINNAMAN: The patient viewer will be rewarded.

@: Joel Kinnaman, The Killing

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