As it approaches its first-season finale this Sunday, June 19, AMC’s “The Killing” has left everyone dying to know who murdered young Rosie Larsen. The list of suspects has grown about as big as the ratings for this critically acclaimed drama, but producers have promised all season long that the killer’s identity will finally come out in this week’s episode. Xfinity.com asked Joel Kinnaman, who plays recovering addict/novice homicide cop Stephen Holder to Mireilles Enos’ lead detective Sarah Linden, for some hints about what’s about to happen.
When did you find out who the killer was?
They kept it a secret from us right until the end. I found out when I was reading the final script. But it was lots of fun that way. I’m playing a detective, so I liked not knowing the killer’s identity as I’m investigating the case.
Were you surprised when you found out?
I was like, “What?” When everyone read it, we were all pretty shocked. There was a lot of discussion afterward, and a lot of jaws dropped. And the person who plays the killer was really surprised too, I think.
So how often do you have friends or even total strangers ask you to reveal the killer’s identity?
It’s been happening quite a lot. I dare people to have me reveal it. I’ll say, “Do you really want to know. I’ll tell you…” And then they run away screaming. Nobody really wants to spoil the surprise.
Would you really tell them who it was?
Well, I have given people the wrong information. I tell some it was me. I’m sure they’ll all love me when they find out I lied. I’ll be getting a lot of angry calls Sunday night. People will be losing money thanks to me after betting with friends. They’ll lose their houses and stuff. I can feel a lot of weight on my shoulders.
Were you prepared for the intense curiosity about the show?
I wasn’t. The only feeling I had while shooting was a sense of confidence about the series. I had good intuition because the writing was so consistent and strong. And we had a good time shooting. But wondering how viewers would receive it and thinking they’d get obsessed by it? I had no idea.
You and co-star Enos seem to be allowed one smile per episode. Were you allowed to at least laugh a couple of times a day once the cameras stopped rolling?
(Laughing) We barely spoke to each other off-camera. And when we did, it was only about murder. But no…seriously, the note she and I kept getting from the directors who would come in was, “You two can’t be friends.” In between takes, we’d be joking around, making up fake soundtracks for scenes. It was just us being goofy. And when the camera starts, we had to take away that smile and I’d have to tell her, “Stop making me laugh!” But that’s been my experience throughout my career. When you’re doing a project that is really dark, you want the atmosphere to be light. Probably out of necessity. It’s your survival technique.
The script isn’t the only dark thing about the show. Set in Seattle and shot in Vancouver, it seems like there’s been maybe three outdoor moments all season that weren’t in a rainstorm.
That’s why I’ve been lobbying for us to call Season Two “The Killing: Hawaii.” I’m not sure the sinister, dark mind of (writer/executive producer) Veena Sud would allow that. But we can be just as moody on a beach. There’s still grief and murder in the sun. Plus, as detectives, we could think more clearly when we’re warm.
AMC officially picked up “The Killing” for a second season this week. Anything you can say about what might happen next year?
I have an idea of what I’d like to see, so I had a party at my place when we wrapped production. I gathered all the writers and I said, “I want to be Harvey Keitel in ‘Bad Lieutenant.’” Don’t speak. Just go write.
One of the most telling things about Holder is his wardrobe. From his jacket to his baggy pants, nothing seems to fit right. Just like he doesn’t seem to fit in with the homicide division. Were those sloppy clothes a deliberate choice on your part?
Patty Jenkins, who directed our pilot, had very specific ideas about the wardrobe. She thought Holder was someone who didn’t know how to dress and didn’t care about it. I was happy to play a guy with none of that personal vanity. I wanted something that described him as a person coming from a very humble background with limited social competence, and not knowing how to dress is part of that.
Yet he did get to wear a suit in one episode, where he tried to dress to impress.
Yeah, that was my Arsenio Hall suit. It was funny how they wrote that scene. I wanted it to be even more about the suit. In fact, I wanted the whole episode to be called “The Suit.” I have to say, though, this is the first project I’ve worked on where I don’t want to take the wardrobe home when we’re done shooting.
This is your first American TV role since moving to Los Angeles from Sweden, where you’ve been in several popular movies. Are you already getting stopped on the street over here?
It’s been weird. In Sweden, I do get recognized a lot. It gets pretty intense and limits you to what places you can and can’t go. It’s a relief to go back to the U.S., where I spend most of my time now, and not have that. People are recognizing me here and I like it. It’s kind of fun. Most people come up and say something nice about the show.
You’ve managed to land parts in some big upcoming movies, like “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “Safe House,” with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. What else do you have going on?
I just started work on a romantic comedy called “Lola Versus” with Debra Winger and Bill Pullman. It’s fun to mix up genres and be in different worlds (from “The Killing”). It’s fun to show an American audience that I can do other things. And do them without the baggy pants.
Just out of curiosity, if Debra Winger asked you who the killer is on “The Killing,” would you tell her?
Yes. But I’d lie. She’ll be one of those calls I’ll get Sunday night.