BACKSTAGE.COM – Just over a year ago, Joel Kinnaman was learning the hard way that no one knows anything in Hollywood. As the title character of Brazilian director José Padilha’s ambitious “RoboCop” reboot, Kinnaman was expecting to see his profile—already growing, thanks to his starring turn on AMC’s “The Killing”—elevated a notch at the film’s release. But then the Hollywood gods intervened. “ ‘RoboCop’ got hit by half the country being buried under a snowstorm that weekend,” he explains, the disappointment in his voice still palpable, between bites of a gourmet burger at Hollywood gastropub the Pikey. “I’m still proud of it.”
Kinnaman regrouped slightly and assessed his aims. “Things always fluctuate, and you’ve got to keep your eye on what you want to do and why. Then be patient and not sell yourself short. You can only control your work and remaining passionate about it. That’s the trick—and now everything is going really well. Even then, offers were already coming in.”
Three grabbed his attention: the action thriller “Run All Night,” opposite Liam Neeson; the heavily anticipated “Child 44,” out this week, based on a best-selling book by British writer Tom Rob Smith and starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and Gary Oldman; and “The Bends” with Rosamund Pike (scheduling the pair is proving difficult).
Clearly, Kinnaman’s career is heating up to the degree that no one in the know is surprised that he replaced Hardy in David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad.” Currently filming another thriller, “Backcountry,” in Canada, Kinnaman will immediately join the rest of the stellar cast: Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Scott Eastwood, and Cara Delevingne.
In “Child 44,” he plays one of his least sympathetic characters yet. Set in Stalinist Russia in 1953, the film features Kinnaman as loyal Stalinist Vasili, capable of the most heinous acts and riddled with hatred for Leo Demidov (Hardy), who is trying to stop a serial killer of children against much resistance in Moscow.
“I was drawn to the idea of playing a sociopath,” Kinnaman says. “I really like those kind of roles, too. Often they are the bad guys but also some of the people you learn the most from playing. They are the ones that are usually the furthest from you. I loved working on the film. It felt like we were in summer camp; very intense, emotional summer camp. And then of course to work with Tom and Noomi and, most of all, Daniel [Espinosa] again—I love working with directors over and over again, that shorthand you build on a movie; you have it from the first day and it’s always there.”
Kinnaman and Espinosa, a fellow Swede, are close friends who have now worked together on three projects, including 2010’s Swedish film “Snabba Cash” (retitled “Easy Money” in the U.S.) and 2012’s “Safe House,” starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds.
Their shorthand, however, led to some consternation on the film’s set in Prague. “It was the very first day of shooting, with 20 extras and crew in a room. Daniel said something that pissed me off, in Swedish. Then we started having a big argument, screaming at each other, then he walked out and I walked out,” Kinnaman recalls. “Then we came back into the room and said, ‘Let’s go.’ We know each other very well. Arguments don’t bother us, and often when we work, we hardly have to talk.”
Rapace is a friend as well, and Kinnaman says she “may have done her best work in ‘Child 44.’ ” She speaks admiringly of his work in turn. “Joel’s acting is beautiful. Every take we did was different, exploring the scenes and the relationship together. I loved it.”
Before leaving for a set, the Kinnaman way is late nights and lots of them. “I read the script over and over. I read the book twice. It’s usually nights when I work on roles, when everything else is closed down,” he says. “Your mind quiets down a little bit because you’re tired. But I don’t go to bed and end up wandering around in my bedroom for four or five hours. All of a sudden it’s 6 in the morning and I probably have to go to work or shoot that day. But my imagination kicks in a lot more when I’m a little fatigued. The worst feeling I can have on set is too many coffees. That makes me present in the wrong way. If I’m tired, I can access everything in a much easier way. I sort of melt right into it.”
His current preparations sound even more exhausting—he films during the day, goes to the gym afterward, sleeps, and eats. “I hate food so much right now,” he grimaces. “I’m trying to look like a cartoon, so I’ve got to gain weight. I gained 28 pounds in eight weeks; I’m trying to do 10 more pounds. If you want to gain this much weight in a short period of time, you can’t eat clean. There’s a lot of mashed potatoes and hamburgers. I’m getting a little flabby.”
“Run All Night” was different again, a strategy Kinnaman admits is virtually his only one. “The culture I grew up in revered the actors who took very different roles. If I was ever so lucky as to have an audience that followed my work, my dream would be that they’d go to see a new film wondering, ‘What’s he going to do with this role?’ ”
Playing Neeson’s son was a dream scenario. “I will never forget his performance in ‘Schindler’s List.’ And ‘Run All Night’ was a beautiful, emotional script, but I did have some notes. My character, Mike, was too clean-cut for someone growing up with a known gangster and alcoholic father. That’s going to leave traces, built-up anger. They accepted my notes and I do feel they added dimension.” Neeson calls Kinnaman “a terrific, energetic actor and a lovely guy.” Kinnaman simply observed him in action. “Liam doesn’t complicate things unnecessarily; there is no chatter. You go in, do your job, and if you carry the conversation of the story inside of you, you don’t have to overthink things. That can be very powerful.”
Kinnaman first acted by chance as a child, and sees parallels with his older self. “My sister was dating Ingmar Bergman’s son, who was directing this Swedish soap opera. They needed a 10-year-old: I got the part and filmed for a year. I’ve since heard I was very opinionated then and was already rewriting my lines.” He didn’t act again until long after school, when he observed friends getting accepted to drama school and thought he might try it out as well, enlisting an older actor as his coach. “One time he looked at me and said, ‘You could really do this if you want.’ And I felt that, too. It was the first time I felt that I might actually be good at something.”
BOSTONHERALD.COM – NEW YORK — As a sadistic Communist cop in the Russian-set thriller “Child 44,” Joel Kinnaman tackles yet another morally questionable character.
The Sweden native first came to fame here as Stephen Holder, the street-smart, ex-addict detective in “The Killing,” which ended its four-season run last year.
He has since starred as the tortured machine in the “Robocop” remake and last month as Liam Neeson’s estranged son in “Run All Night.”
“I know there are some actors who have some strategy about their careers, and they want to be ‘stars,’ ” Kinnaman, 35, told the Herald.
“When they find something the audience connects with it’s, ‘That’s a perfect role for me.’ They hone that thing to do it over and over again,
“I find that I do the opposite. I do something and then want to do the opposite. For me, it’s a competition I have with myself, proving my range in a way by doing a lot of different things.”
Based on the novel by Tom Rob Smith and set in the early 1950s, “Child 44” is loosely based on a true story of a serial killer who targeted children.
Tom Hardy (the new Mad Max) is the detective who tries to find the murderer while Kinnaman’s Vasili Nikitin is eager to block him, invoking the Communist Party line of dictator Joseph Stalin.
“I’m the sociopathic antagonist to Tom,” Kinnaman said.
“Tom and I work in Stalin’s secret police. Because Stalin says crime is a Western disease. When the child of Tom’s character’s best friend is murdered, that’s a crime against the state. But if you admit that, you get sent to the Gulag,” the fearsome Siberian prison camps.
Kinnaman finds such dark material appealing.
“It’s always the pursuit to go deeper into your emotions and touch those areas where we rarely go. Dark movies take us there.”
Kinnaman smiled, “It might sound pretentious. Sure, I’ve got a career and want to do well, but there’s a search (as an actor) for understanding yourself and being human.
“You try to find those parts where you go into unknown territory.”
(“Child 44” opens Friday.)
TV3.IE – Joel Kinnaman has insisted he is never concerned about whether making huge films will impact his personal life.
Joel Kinnaman reveals he learned “a lot of life lessons” while shooting Child 44.
The 35-year-old Swedish-American actor recently wrapped filming on the dramatic thriller, which focuses on political corruption in the former Soviet Union.
And Joel is blown away by how educational starring in the picture proved to be.
“It’s one of those roles — there’s a lot of life lessons I’m learning in the process,” he told USA Today. “It’s so much fun.”
Child 44 centres on disgraced member of the Soviet military police Leo Demidov, portrayed by Tom Hardy, who begins investigating a string of child murders in the 1950s. But when evidence mounts against some of the highest government officials, Leo finds himself the target of a lethal conspiracy.
Joel portrays villain Wasilij in Child 44, a film produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Safe House helmer Daniel Espinosa.
And although the estimated budget to create the thriller was a whopping $50 million, Joel isn’t concerned about how being involved with high-profile studio projects like this will impact his personal life.
“I never think about things like that,” Joel said when asked about whether he’s worried his life will change if Child 44 is a huge hit. “That’s the kind of question you get before you do a big movie? That’s not how it works. You create your own world. A lot of people trick themselves walking around with that kind of expectation. I don’t expect anything to change. I’ll adapt to make it as normal as possible.”
Child 44, which is based on the eponymous 2008 novel by Tom Rob Smith, will be released to American theatres on April 17.
EONLINE.COM – Ladies and gentleman, we present to you, the Suicide Squad.
Fans of the film adaptation of the popular DC comic book were treated to a special surprise this evening when director David Ayer tweeted the first cast photo!
“Cast read through today! #SuicideSquad,” he captioned the snapshot, which featured famous faces like Will Smith (Deadshot), Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Jai Courtney (Captain Boomerang), Cara Delevingne (Enchantress), Joel Kinnaman (Rick Flagg), Viola Davis (Amanda Waller), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Killer Croc) and newcomers Adam Beach and Ike Barinholtz.
There was one very familiar face that was noticeably absent from the picture. Where the heck is Jared Leto aka The Joker? It’s possible he was the one taking the photo, but why would they do that to us?
Suicide Squad is based on the DC Comics story of villains who are forced to take on the role of heroes. The initial Suicide Squad casting announcement came out back in early December.
Charles Roven and Richard Suckle are producing. Zack Snyder and Deborah Snyder are teaming up once again as executive producers on the highly anticipated feature film.
Production is due to begin this month in Toronto with a tentative release date of Aug. 5, 2016.
In a statement made shortly after the release of the casting news, Warner Bros. President Greg Silverman said, “We look forward to seeing this terrific ensemble, under David Ayer’s amazing guidance, give new meaning to what it means to be a villain and what it means to be a hero.”
OUT.COM – “I kind of miss him,” says Joel Kinnaman, referring to Stephen Holder, the streetwise, hoodie-wearing detective (and reformed addict) he played in AMC’s absorbing crime serial, The Killing, based on the hit Danish show Forbrydelsen. “He could be both very mature and deeply immature, very angry and vulnerable.”
Of course, the fact that Holder could embody such contradictions simultan-eously was due, in no small part, to the depth that Kinnaman brought to the role. A rare example of an American adaptation holding its own against the European original, The Killing was compelling in large part because of the chemistry between Holder and his pensive colleague, Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos). Their dynamic — playful, prickly, and emotionally complex — was the most striking difference between the two shows. “The Danish version of the role I played wasn’t a particularly interesting one,” concedes Kinnaman. “He was more of an antagonist that wanted to do it by the book, [whereas] we were able to create a character that felt like he could do anything.”
After a roller-coaster ride in which the series was canceled, then uncanceled, then canceled again before Netflix swooped in to pick it up for a final season that aired last August, The Killing has definitively left our screens. Thankfully, Kinnaman has not. The actor, who enjoyed a meteoric rise in his native Sweden — where he made nine movies in a 16-month period from 2009 to 2010 — can now be seen in the big-screen adaptation of Child 44, a Soviet-era thriller by gay novelist Tom Rob Smith. Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2008, the book is a masterful evocation of Stalin’s Russia, in which murder is viewed as a product of Western decadence, a crime imputed to homosexuals, the mentally ill, and other “deviants.” Inevitably, this ideological myopia comes with gruesome consequences.
Kinnaman plays Vasili Nikitin, a sadistic party loyalist (“There is no crime in paradise” is his mantra) determined to derail Tom Hardy’s Leo Demidov, who is working to expose the corrosive culture that has enabled a child killer to run rampant. Nikitin is not meant to be likable, but Kinnaman succeeds in making him more intriguing than the novel allows. “In the opening sequence, it was written [in the script] that he was just standing there, looking with sinister eyes, but we created a situation where he was being picked on,” explains Kinnaman. “He’d been a weak, frightened, abused boy, and that’s where the evil came from. The challenge was to find colors that weren’t just sociopathic, or ambitious, or greedy.”
Although set 62 years ago, Child 44 offers some striking parallels with the current upsurge in violence towards Russia’s LGBT community, a real-time echo that Kinnaman is all too attuned to. “I’ve been following what’s been happening with these [guys] who go online and set up dates, pretty much as they do in the movie, and then they almost kidnap people and beat them, and post the tapes on YouTube,” he says. “It’s disgusting.”
Child 44 is not the first time the actor has found himself having to channel the mind-set of a Russian sociopath. Daniel Espinosa, who directs the movie, first spotted Kinnaman playing Raskolnikov in a four-hour stage adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. That, in turn, led to a principal part in Espinosa’s Easy Money, a galloping Swedish drama in which Kinnaman starred as a working-class business student turned criminal.
As in Easy Money and Crime and Punishment, Kinnaman’s performance in Child 44 encapsulates his skill in walking the line between light and shade. It’s the kind of duality the actor can trace to his teens, a period of intense anxiety and fear scored through with petty crime and bullying. “It was never really a band of brothers — there was just always this constant terror,” he says. “When we’d hang out, you’d try to find somebody else to pick on or rob, because otherwise you might get picked on or robbed by one of your friends. I developed a nervous feeling for a couple of years after breaking off from that whole group. But at the same time, I feel like almost every role I play has something to do with those years.”
THESOURCE.COM – Joel Kinnaman and Génesis Rodríguez play husband and wife in Run All Night which is now playing.
Read what they had to say about working on the film, Liam Neeson and more!
How did you feel when you heard you were perfect to play Liam Neeson’s son?
Joel Kinnaman: That is a hug compliment even though he’s an alcoholic hit man in this. I was really honored to play his son in this film and I’m always drawn to father and son stories. I always get very emotional watching them and every friend that I have, older or younger … everybody’s had a complicated relationship to their father at some point in their life. This was a very interesting one.
Genesis told us on set you guys were listening to some cool hip-hop music. What were you guys listening to to get prepped for shooting?
Joel Kinnaman: Jay Electronica. I remember I played that to Common and he was like, oh s*** I haven’t heard this. I was like, I played song to Common that he hadn’t heard. That made my day.
Is that a ritual just listening to some hip-hop of just any music before you take on a big role or in between scenes?
Joel Kinnaman: Yeah sometimes. I mean I had the biggest premiere of my life was after I got out of acting school. I was in the big play of Crime and Punishment. It was the opening of a new national theater with as much coverage as you can get for a play in Sweden. Very much attention. And I was the center piece, I didn’t leave the stage for three hours and 45 minutes, so it was on me. For some reason I was listening to Bob Marley and … we jammed and it worked out really well.
Can you speak about working with Jaume the director and building this character.
Joel Kinnaman: It was a great collaboration. When I got the script, I thought Brad Ingelsby had written a beautiful script. There was one thing with that I felt could be improved and that was my character. He was written a little bit too clean cut. He had a white wife with his two blonde children. For some reason it’s like a lot of Hollywood stories … when somebody’s innocent they’re white which is farthest from the truth. And that he was much more of a victim of circumstance and he wasn’t proactive in the situation. I wanted you to feel that … this kid that grew up with alcoholic criminal father that created a very unstable home environment, he grew up in this rough neighborhood with everybody knowing he’s Jimmy Conlin’s son and even though he did a very respectable thing to create a different life for himself in the opposite life of his father and create a life for his children that he didn’t get, you still want to feel the residue of that background … I wanted him to be a violent person that has a lot of anger inside and that’s where we came up with that he had a run at being a professional fighter and but then he also had a lot of anger issues that he was trying to keep down. When these unfortunate events start to unfold then we also see how he would react in those situations and being proactive in that.
Did you have to train in boxing?
Joel Kinnaman: I did boxing a little bit. I’ve never done any fights, but sparing. A dear friend of mine, he’s actually on the money team, Mayweather’s team, and he’s actually got a title fight in a month, so he hooked me up with his New York trainer, a guy called Don Saxby so I was over there at Gleason’s and Don was helping me not look a complete fool in those scenes.
Can you speak about shooting in New York?
Joel Kinnaman: Yeah. That’s why I was so happy that we were shooting in New York. There’s a sense of humor and a toughness to New York that is so specific to here, it’s a lot of tough love and that’s why I was really adamant that they weren’t going to be like a white couple. They were from mixed neighborhoods so it was great that she also brought a little Latin attitude to it and it’s not easy raising two kids with not much money and you have fights but you love each other. It’s not a big deal but you’re working hard to make it work. I thought she was phenomenal in the film, really a strong woman … she’s feminine but a very strong woman.
What was the set chemistry like with all of the actors?
Joel Kinnaman: It was a hell of a good time. We had a lot of fun and Liam … he’s a funny guy and as soon as we became friends and started joking with each other we’re messing each other up and tripping each other up before the scenes and I was always worried is his back going to hold for this long stretch, do you need me to support you over this old man. He was like get out of the way lad. He’s going to show me boxing, he’s like hey so you’re boxing now … people haven’t boxed like that since the 20s when you were a kid.