Who’s this going to fool? Everyone ...
Joel Kinnaman makes a killing in his new role, writes
THE Killing star Joel Kinnaman had his ‘‘aha’’ moment while filming an episode of the crime drama early last season.
The scene called for Stephen Holder, the Seattle Police detective Kinnaman portrays, to chat up two girls.
Holder, investigating the grisly murder of teen Rosie Larsen, thought the girls knew something. He offered them the joint he was smoking.
‘‘ I’m off the clock,’’ he grins, glassy-eyed. ‘‘It’s not like I’m gonna arrest you.’’
‘‘That’s some crazy sick weed,’’ declares one girl after letting out a lungfull. ‘‘I’m so stoned right now!’’
‘‘So are we gonna party?’’ Holder slyly suggests.
A moment later, they spill the information he is looking for, and he dashes off, leaving them bewildered – and not really stoned. (You see, it isn’t really marijuana.)
The girls buy his ruse. So does the audience. Scruffy, gangly and shrewd, Holder fools everyone.
‘‘It was such a great way to present that character. I was so inspired by that scene,’’ says Swedish-born Kinnaman.
‘‘You ask: Who is this guy? Do I like him? Do I not? Those are questions I really want asked about the characters I play. It’s so much more interesting to be in a moral grey zone.’’
Teamed with prickly, pushy Detective Sarah Linden (series star Mireille Enos), Holder keeps viewers guessing as the grim investigation ensnares much of the Seattle community, including the mayoral race of councilman Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), whose campaign team may be somehow tied up in the crime.
On the season finale, Holder and Linden will finally crack the case. That’s not a moment too soon for restless viewers, some of whom thought they were promised the Big Reveal a year ago but got a cliffhanger instead.
‘‘It was a little bit of mismanaged expectations, marketing-wise,’’ says Kinnaman. ‘‘Some people felt tricked.’’
Even so, the time has come to find out who killed Rosie Larsen. Whoever the culprit is, one thing has been clear since the series premiered: Holder – an ex-narc and recovering addict – is an endearing eccentric infused by Kinnaman with grit, nuance and the lone measure of comic relief in a series that otherwise is shrouded in gloom.
Another thing is sure: Holder isn’t the killer. Kinnaman scrunches his face dismissively at such a notion. ‘‘That would just be stupid,’’ he says. ‘‘And it’s not a stupid show.’’ What did he think when he learned who the killer was?
‘‘I was surprised,’’ he allows. ‘‘Yeah, it was cool. It was very satisfying.’’
Kinnaman is chatting with a reporter in his Manhattan hotel suite. In person, he strikes a marked contrast to Holder, a skulking presence forever hunched in his hoodie. Kinnaman is rangy and strapping in a T-shirt, slacks and running shoes, and notably spared Holder’s ghostly pallor.
‘‘When I’m playing Holder, I feel like it affects my skin,’’ Kinnaman confides.
‘‘Even when I was rested and got exercise.’’
Kinnaman was born 32 years ago in Stockholm, the son of an American father and a Swedish mother.
His older half-sister Melinda has been an actress from childhood (she made her debut as the tomboy Saga in the 1985 classic My Life as a Dog, directed by Lasse Hallstrom), and when Kinnaman was 10, he spent a year in the cast of a Swedish TV series, Storstad.
‘‘It was a soap, and horrendously bad,’’ says Kinnaman. ‘‘But it was watched by 30 per cent of the population. It was a cool experience.’’
At 12 he retired (‘‘By then, I was into being a tough guy, and acting wasn’t part of being a tough guy’’), but by his early 20s he was back in the game.
He attended the prestigious Swedish Academic School of Drama and won roles in a string of projects including Snabba Cash two years ago, which became Sweden’s highest-grossing film.
Due for release in the US re-titled Easy Money, the pressure-cooker thriller finds Kinnaman as a business student.
He also appears in the romantic comedy Lola Versus as the longtime boyfriend of a young New York woman (played by Greta Gerwig) whom he dumps three weeks before their wedding.
‘‘It was fun and smart and I loved the theme of the movie: freedom through solitude,’’ says Kinnaman.
This autumn he heads to Toronto to star in the much-anticipated remake of RoboCop, directed by Jose Padilha, with Samuel L. Jackson and Gary Oldman also in the cast.
‘‘I was chasing a big movie,’’ says Kinnaman, hoping to gain box-office clout to expand his acting choices.
‘‘I feel so lucky it’s this one. I don’t feel like I’m about to do a big action movie. This feels like a drama about what it is to be human. That’s the core of this movie, even though it comes equipped with fireworks and cool gadgets and CGI.’’
Wednesdays, 10.30pm, One.