The Killing wraps up its first season Sunday night on AMC. EW checked in with Joel Kinnaman, who plays Det. Stephen Holder, for some clues about what’s to come from this twist-filled, unconventional procedural. [Mild spoiler alert!]
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, congratulations on the second season.
JOEL KINNAMAN: Thank you. It was very expected. So I was, like, “What took you guys so long?”
I like your confidence.
They were all calling to congratulate me, and I was just barking at them, like, “Yeah, should have been two months ago!” [Laughs] Nah, we’re all really happy, very proud.
Has it surprised you how people have latched on to this season?
I usually have pretty good intuition on projects that I work on. The whole way through shooting this – the style of shooting and how the writing was coming along and how we were feeling the scenes, I was feeling pretty confident the whole time. The only worry I had was that maybe it would be a little bit too dark for an American audience, that we would linger too long on the grief, and that would turn people off. But at the same time, I still thought it does have that element of excitement and you want to find out. I was feeling pretty confident that it would get a following. I wasn’t sure how big the following would be, but I was sure the following would be very committed.
Heading into the finale, what can fans really expect?
I think they will get a very exciting and satisfying last episode that will also leave them hungry for more.
When you read the finale for the first time, what was your reaction?
I was, like, “Daaaaamn! Damn! What? What?” That’s what my reaction was.
What can you say about how we’re going to see Linden and Holder’s partnership develop in the finale. I feel like they’ve grown together as partners ever since he helped her with her son.
Linden’s a tricky girl. She’s difficult to get your head around, and she’s not the easiest person to communicate with. That continues. They still have all these differences, but I think during episode 11 you also found out that their backgrounds are sort of similar — probably more similar than anybody else that they have in their everyday lives. There’s definitely a much stronger connection between them, but they’re still going to have problems and be bitchin’ on each other. But they’re getting closer and closer.
Closer as partners or closer as romantic interests? There is a group of fans who think that’s where it could be headed.
[Laughs] I don’t think we’ve seen any of that, and I don’t know if we will. Maybe/maybe not. It might be a little bit X-Files; if there is something, it’s very subtle. I don’t think it’s something that any of them are aware of. There’s not anything yet — I’m thinking of the possible future. I mean, I haven’t read any of the scripts yet, so I don’t know where they’re going to take it.
How to you perceive their relationship?
I think that he’s equally annoyed and amused by her, and I think that he has — as they’ve gotten to know each other more and the difficulties of the case have become bigger and bigger — I think he’s more and more understood how much he actually needs her. In the beginning, he was really cocky and he wanted to be the one to come in and save the day, solving a big case in the first few days in his new homicide career. But I think now he’s feeling that he actually needs her, and he’s pretty happy that she didn’t leave.
So at this end of this season, are you getting the sense that he wants her to stick around?
I think there’s definitely an element of that.
Are we going to find out whether she makes a decision in the finale?
You’ll definitely see a decision.
One of the most interesting aspects of the season was when we explored Holder’s background. Are we going to see any more of that in the finale?
That’s more Season 2. The finale is all about the case.
What’s your take on his background? It must have been exciting to find out his back story.
Hell yeah. I was longing for that since the first episodes. That was a big reveal for the audience because his background was clouded in mystery, and that’s the way they wanted to dramatize it. For me, that was a big relief because I could be bolder. At first, they didn’t want me to smile that much or laugh because they wanted the audience not to know if he was a good guy or a bad guy. After that, I could paint with all colors.
So they told you to play it flat?
Yeah, more one-note. And I still put in a bunch of other stuff, and I reacted differently to situations while shooting it. Then what ended up in the cut was much more of a straight line until the seventh episode.
That must have been so difficult because the innate reaction is to try to make this guy your own.
Yeah, it’s frustrating. But I like that choice. I felt like it was the difference between doing a movie and TV series — you can have that slow development of a character, and the payoff is actually bigger for the audience. You keep the mystery.
Despite the heavy back story, have you enjoyed being basically the only provider of comic relief?
It’s been a lot of fun. I think the writers have been enjoying more and more the collaboration of what comes out of certain moments going on in the season. And they see some of the first episodes, and they write more of that stuff. It’s really been a lot of fun to play a character that doesn’t have that social filter between thought and mouth. He kind of says a lot of s— that he thinks. The normal, more socially functioning person would maybe not say everything that comes to mind, but he doesn’t have that. And that’s really fun to play.
But because he usually provides a few laughs, I’ve been waiting for Holder to have a big hero moment. Are we going to see some hero moments from him in the finale?
Not a hero moment, but there’s going to be another big moment.
Interesting. What more can you say about that?
Nothing more than that.
How do you anticipate people will react to the season as a whole after we see the finale?
I don’t know. I think they’re going to be satisfied, frustrated, and hungry for more.
Last, tell me a little bit more about this movie, Lola Versus, you’re working on here in NYC with Bill Pullman.
I don’t know when it comes out. It’s been pretty busy during the hiatus. I think we’re going to end up doing six movies during this hiatus, so it’s all a blur.
What character do you play?
It’s a romantic character. It’s a comedy about a break-up, and I play an artist that is together with Lola, and I break her heart right before our wedding. Then it’s kind of about her journey, and he’s coming in back and forth, and they’re dealing with this break-up in a charming way.
So, in other words, it’s the anti-Killing?
Yeah, it’s a totally different genre, so that’s fun. I haven’t played that kind of a character in an American film. For me, that’s fantastic. It’s rare.