We grill the executive producer and stars of AMC's tantalizing thriller The Killing for answers to our burning questions.
Detective Holder, Sarah Linden's hoodie-loving, hygiene-hating partner, has a hard-to-place accent. Where is he from?
Joel Kinnaman, the lanky 31-year-old who plays Holder, speaks the way he does partly because he's half-American, half-Swedish and lives in Stockholm. But Holder also sounds like that, says Killing executive producer Veena Sud, because Holder was scripted to have grown up "around Aberdeen, outside of Seattle, where Kurt Cobain is from. So he's very much cut from the same cloth — a white kid who identifies with rap and urban culture." How did they come to cast a Scandinavian as a Seattleite? Kinnaman's impressive audition tape. "He has awesome tats on his arms," says Sud, who loved that he was "funny" and "charismatic" and that despite the fact that he's a huge sex symbol in Sweden, didn't mind that Holder's sartorial style is street. "He wasn't this blow-dried guy. He totally embodied the character."
The Killing is based on a hit Danish TV series called Forbrydelsen (The Crime). How faithful is the AMC version to the original?
Not frame-by-frame, says Sud. "We took the bones, the big broad strokes, kept what we liked and threw out some other things in pursuit of a more Americanized version." For example? "We spend more time with [Rosie's] siblings and the effect she had on them than the Danish version did." Sud's biggest alteration? "The killer is different," she says adding that no one in the cast — except the murderer(s?) — knew who killed Rosie. Of course, about half of the them did watch subtitled DVDs of Forbrydelsen. "Me? I didn't want anything to do with it," says Brandon Jay McLaren, who plays dreadlocked Bennet Ahmed. "I told people, 'Don't let me know what happens,' and they said, 'OK. But just so you know: It's crazy.'"
We all know that with a willful son, a looming wedding and an unsolved crime, Sarah has her hands full. That said, doesn't our contemplative heroine ever have fun?
Not much. In the real world, when a body is found, dedicated cops get tunnel vision. "They'll go for days without bathing, without eating — they're on the job 24/7," says Sud, adding that before the Rosie Larsen case, Linden liked taking brisk jogs. In fact, in Episode 1, she's on a run where she stumbles across a dead seal on the beach. A clue to the larger mystery perhaps? "No comment!" says Sud.
Why didn't Mitch check in with Rosie during the weekend the family was off camping?
Simple. At 17, Rosie may not have wanted to join her mom, dad and two young brothers in the wild, but her parents trusted their reliable teenager enough to leave her at home alone. Though they couldn't get good cell reception, "Mom still thought she was in a safe situation," says Sud. "At some point you have to let go of the reins, especially with a kid who is about to go to college. You never think this would happen. That's the nightmare of every parent."
Belko Royce is described as the unofficial uncle to the Larsen kids, so why do Stan, Mitch and Mitch's sister, Terry, treat him like a doormat?
"Belko is definitely part of the Larsen family fabric — he's there all the time, he works there, but he's also not a biological member. He's like a stray dog," says Sud, pointing out that treating him rudely is proof that he's counted as one of the Larsen tribe. "In times of deep duress, you're not always polite to your family." Belko is also a part of Stan's Polish-mob past that he'd like to forget. "When Stan got out, he brought Belko with him," says Brent Sexton, the burly actor who plays grieving father Stan Larsen.
Are Brendan Sexton III (who plays Belko) and Brent Sexton related?
"No relation," says Sexton. "Except maybe when the boats came over."
Aside from a brief scene in the pilot, we've only seen Rosie in photos and videos. Will she appear more as the season continues?
"I think it was discussed that I'd have a dream and [in it], I interacted with Rosie," says Brent Sexton, about a scene that was ultimately scrapped. "Veena decided there'd be no flashbacks, no dreams to tell this story." Sud's reason is she didn't want to interrupt the real-time authenticity of the series; she wanted the audience to get to know Rosie as, say, a cop would. "How does Sarah get to know this dead person? Through the people in her life and through the things she's left behind, through the pictures, through the memories. If you're the parents, when a child dies, this is all you have left, and that is painful. You just have the wind chimes in her room or the smell of her perfume on her dress. I wanted that to be the only thing that we as an audience were privy to."
We all know that it rains in Seattle, but on The Killing the downpours seem biblical. Is this intentional?
"The rain is definitely a character on the show," says McLaren, adding that because drizzle doesn't show up well on film, they often used a device called a "water tower" to pump up the volume. "It became a running joke: You'd be doing a serious scene and there was so much water falling on you, you could barely keep your eyes open." But everyone agrees that stormy weather adds to the gloominess of the series (which was filmed primarily in Vancouver, B.C., not Seattle). "It helped us set a mood and a tone," says Sud. "Dark and incredibly sad." Mission accomplished.
The Killing airs Sunday at 10/9c on AMC.