I sat down with Joel Kinnaman on Monday (March 26) afternoon to discuss the Swedish actor’s second season playing Stephen Holder, recovering addict and aspiring Seattle homicide detective on AMC’s “The Killing.”
When last we spotted the jittery, enigmatic Holder, he seemed to be heading into some morally questionable territory in what proved to be a wildly polarizing Season 1 finale. Things only get more complicated for Holder in Sunday’s (April 1) “Killing” premiere and much of my conversation with Kinnaman relates to that two-hour episode, so the full Q&A will post after the episode has aired.
While most of the interview focuses on “The Killing,” I’m only human and, towards the end, I inquired about how Kinnaman, well-respected, but still largely an unknown to mainstream American audiences, came to land the lead role in Jose Padilha’s upcoming reboot/remake of Paul Verhoven’s sci-fi landmark “RoboCop.”
“I’ve been going out for a bunch of different movies and there’s always this problem when you want to do features, especially bigger features, it’s difficult when you only have a seven-month gap. I’m contractually committed to do a third season if they pick it up,” Kinnaman explains. “So at first I was going to do “Arthur & Lancelot” and then that got put on hold. That’s actually the movie that I thought I was going to be doing this summer. I’d already started horseback riding and sword training and everything, so it was a little bit of a take-back that I had to break preparation.”
If you haven’t been paying attention, “Arthur & Lancelot” is set up at Warner Brothers and it’s David Dobkin’s attempt to give the studio a young-skewing take on the Arthurian legend. Kinnaman was cast as Lancelot, opposite “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harrington as Arthur. The studio temporarily pulled the plug on “Arthur & Lancelot” back in January, but it gained new life earlier this month when Colin Farrell showed interest in the Lancelot role.
Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Kinnaman to find a different project to pursue.
“Then I met Jose Padilha. I was a big fan of the ‘Tropa de Elite,’ the ‘Elite Squad,’ movies. I saw them right when they came out. I think those two movies sorta have the construction of a trilogy and to me, that’s just brilliant movie-making, very intelligent and politically very interesting and the action sequences are very good. So if a guy like that is going to do a remake of ‘RoboCop,’ you know that it’s going to be something real.”
Kinnaman continues, “Then he was also telling me the whole background of what he wanted to investigate with ‘RoboCop.’ It’s going to be a very smart movie and also very exciting. Then I had to fight to get it. It’s also that thing where I’ve been on a TV show, but I’m still not a name. You want to reach that kind of a level, because there’s a lot of mid-level to low-budget movies where I can’t be the lead in one of those movies, because you have a name to draw financing to the movie. But ‘RoboCop’ is the name.”
With a supporting role in the January hit “Safe House” and a blink-and-you-miss-him appearance in last winter’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Kinnaman had already dipped his toes in the big studio pool and he was eager to take the next step.
“I was looking for a big movie,” he admits. “I wanted to take that step. I wanted to show that I could carry a big movie. Some of those big movies, they are cheesier than others and they want to have less of a core and just have the eye-candy. So I couldn’t be happier. This is a really challenging part. It’s really challenging, actor-wise.”
Kinnaman is stepping into Peter Weller’s metallic shoes and presumably his metallic helmet, but one thing he’s emphasizing is that this RoboCop will look and move differently.
When I asked how much of him we were actually going to be able to see, Kinnaman didn’t hesitate.
“We’ll see me,” he promises. “The visor’s gonna be see-through. It’s going to be much more of a human performance. There’s not going to be any twitchy robot [he mimics very mechanical robotic moves]. Our vision of how a robot is going to be in 2046, it’s going to be a very human skin, it’s gonna look very human. I’m going to be able to put my signature on the body language, too. The first ‘RoboCop’ movie is one of my favorite movies. I’ve seen that movie probably 15 or 20 times. But from an acting standpoint, walking around just moving your jaw, it’s not so interesting. So this is going to be an opportunity to really bring a full performance to it.”
“The Killing” is still in production — Kinnaman swears he still doesn’t know who killed Rosie Larsen — so it’ll be a while before “RoboCop” begins shooting.
Check back on Sunday night after the “Killing” premiere for the full conversation with Kinnaman.