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 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.

Leave a Reply
‘Call Me By Your Name’ Star Timothée Chalamet: “What scares me is being boring”
"At a certain point I was able to come to grips with the idea to just 'be.'" - Timothée Chalamet
‘Phantom Thread’ Star Lesley Manville: “It’s so easy to make someone bad look good on film. In theatre, there’s no hiding place”
"Filming is different. You’re getting a moment right. You can go in and create something very good, very quickly. That’s a different challenge to having five, six weeks to rehearse a play.” - Lesley Manville
Chadwick Boseman on ‘Black Panther’ and How He Refocused His Career
"As soon as I came to L.A., things immediately shifted for me." - Chadwick Boseman
Bernadette Peters on Returning to Broadway and Why She is Still Trying to Improve Her Craft
"You have to do your best to fulfill the role, not fulfill yourself" - Bernadette Peters
Ellen Pompeo: “Acting, to me, is boring”
"Anybody can be good on a show season one and two. Can you be good 14 years later? Now, that's a f*ckin' skill." - Ellen Pompeo