Joel Kinnaman on Auditioning for ‘The Killing’ and Wanting to Get Back to Theater

Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman has received rave reviews for his performance as Detective Stephen Holder on AMC’s The Killing and for the past two seasons, he has stood out among other cast members for his impressive portrayal.  Kinnaman recently spoke to Nola.com about his career, which was flourishing in Sweden when he decided to move to the US in 2009. 

Kinnaman said, “In Sweden, we only make 25 to 30 movies a year, so to have been the lead in so many in a single year is high exposure.  I thought it was the right time to come to the States.  I thought I could be believable in various roles.  I didn’t think I’d have to play the guard at Auschwitz.  You know, the evil German—or the corrupt Russian.  I did the whole go-round when I arrived, the auditions and the meetings with people who had no idea what I’d done.”

After his first few months in the US, Kinnaman admitted, “I wasn’t really getting anything.”  Then he made an audition tape for The Killing without much hope that it would pan out.  He said, “I wasn’t that hungry for it.  But my agent said, ‘Put yourself on tape.’  I said I would and then almost forgot about it.”

Kinnaman ended up landing the show, and was able to put his own spin on the role of recovering meth-addict Holder.  He said, “I did improvise some things in the pilot and noticed that after the show got picked up the writers incorporated that tone.  It’s cool to be in a living process like that.  They gave him funny interests, stretching the role but still making it believable.”

The 32-year-old has several upcoming movie projects, including Lola Versus and Easy Money and he’s also signed on for the a RoboCop remake.  But Kinnaman is eager to return to his roots in the theater.  He said, “I’m way overdue to go back onstage.  And the longer I stay away, the harder it is to return to.  Right now, I’m petrified to go back, but I need it.  I have a physical longing.  It’s the true actor’s medium, because there we have complete control over the performance.”

It is obvious that Kinnaman will be taking on a variety of roles in the future.  He said, “It’s pretty easy to keep doing what you’ve been doing successfully, but the risk of stagnating is high.  I think I was pushing the bar in Sweden, but I wanted to do that here, because here you get paid enough so that you can prepare for three months beforehand.  In Sweden, you can’t do that.”

Lola Versus opens June 8, and Easy Money will be released on July 11.  The Killing airs Sundays on AMC at 9 P.M.

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