'The Killing' season finale preview: Joel Kinnaman talks Linden's big decision and the end that will leave fans 'hungry' for more

Joel-Kinnaman

Image Credit: James Dittiger/AMC

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.

Comments (48 total) Add your comment
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  • ugh

    i think this guys is a great actor! he’s really made me like the character and has made the character grow throughout the season (with the help of the writers of course – but his acting really shines.)

    • Erin

      He’s an incredible actor. I get more and more impressed each week.

    • Melly

      ITA, he is a great actor. I was completely surprised when I read on IMDB that he is Swedish, grew up in Sweden and is a huge part of their television/film community. Would have never guessed that his American accent and pseudo thug-like presence in The Killing was made up.

    • Holder Fan

      Yes, his acting is great. Looking forward to seeing more of him.

  • Lucy

    He is an awesome actor…and kinda hot! the last minutes of the episode was spellbinding!!

  • Bette

    Holder is one cool dude.

  • shamonfrom the bx

    He awesome i even liked when the son was found and he said kick his ass lol i was on the floor dieing .

  • Lauren

    You my ride, Linden!

    • Angela

      Thanks for the laugh.

    • nora pechka

      Love it.

  • edna

    He’s amazingly cool and the series has become my favorite over any. I’m so stoked it will be back season! I’m drawn to him more than any character.

  • Mr. Holloway

    Just echoing what everyone else has said, but it’s worth repeating how good Kinnaman has been on this show.

    He’s really funny on the show, but he also gives you more than enough shading to show you that Holder isn’t just a clown. He also shows how good an actor Holder is when he interacts with certain suspects.

    I have to admit though…I couldn’t understand a single word he was saying at first, but by episode 4 or 5 I could watch him without subtitles.

    • Bette

      Subtitles ???

      • Mr. Holloway

        I guess I meant closed captions. (Sometimes I use those interchangeably.)

  • KatherineM

    I’ve followed him for a while now, before this show. He is the real deal, quite well-educated in his craft, and “hot”. I am happy he’s reaching a large audience at a relatively young age (31).

  • Maeve

    I love Joel Kinnamon! He is so hilarious the way he delivers lines like “so why’d your moms throw you out of her canoe?” hahahaha. also, very hot under all that facial hair and the hoody.

    • Kim E

      I agree with you Maeve, I saw pics of him without facial hair and he’s hot! I could kind of see that in the first episode so I looked him up on IMDB. Hot guy!

  • Heidi

    Ok, prediction for the finale. And as a warning I will refer to what happened last week.

    I don’t think it will be so cut and dry. I doubt the politician actually did the crime; I think Gwen did it because she really believed in him and wanted to cover for him with this one girl who she must have seen as a tramp. She didn’t know about all the others or if she did, something will snap in her after hearing him say that he owes everything to his wife and if he wins it will be because of her, instead of giving credit to Gwen.
    She may have put Rosie in the trunk of one of their own cars to make Richmond sit up a little and pay attention to the campaign, and to stop him from cheating again. He wouldn’t know who did it but would feel intimidated that someone was sending him a message and would therefore behave the rest of the campaign and solidify his relationship with Gwen.

    I think Gwen will show up at Richmond’s home, an argument will ensue, and she might even try to kill Richmond.

    I also still think they have to loop back just a little bit to the rich kid from the beginning (maybe his father was a client of Rosies) and to Rosie’s best friend (who maybe worked for Beau Soliel). I don’t think they did it but they may have known alot more than they said. Maybe rich kid thought his dad did it; I don’t know. I just can’t see their storylines not being resolved in some way, even if its just a few minutes in the whole episode.

    Any other theories?

    • captain kirk

      Disagree on Gwen just because the mayor gave her the pics in the episode last week. So it is assumed that she hadn’t seen them before that. Or maybe she did.
      The Jamie guy, the other campaign assistant, seems willing to go the extra mile for the campaign. Did anyone ever ask for his alibi?
      But I do agree with you that it’s not the councilman. That would be too obvious. In other interviews they have said the ending will be a big surprise.

      • Heidi

        She may not have known about the steady stream of girls and infidelities. She has devoted her whole life, all eggs in one basket so to speak, to find love and get Richmond elected to senate. At the time of the murder, she may only have known about Rosie…he may have gone too far with the drowning thing and was alive, so he left her but Gwen found out and went to finish the job. They give each other long meaningful looks.

        Her shock at the other girls in the photos plus his words at the press conference could turn her over the edge. As in, I risked my life for you to get rid of the girl, and you were never grateful for everything. (I don’t think he knew she killed Rosie, not for sure, until this last episode). I think he’s going to be a dead man.

  • jbg

    Holder gets killed in the last 5 mins, by belko the murderer

    • tim

      JBG—total idiot!

      • jbg

        meet you back here after the finale. you’ll see.

      • tim

        you’re an idiot for spoiling it. why would you want to do that?
        and i’m an idiot for having this conversation

    • Cage

      Holder’s back for season 2 I believe.

      • Shy

        What happened in the Danish version doesn’t happen in this one. The producers made that clear. Belko is not the killer, and Holder will be back next season.

      • anonymous

        We know, but jbg is just being an obnoxious smartass.

    • Jenks

      That may be what happened in the Danish version. I have read that in the U.S. version, the killer is different.

    • Zakry

      The man just talked about season two, dummy. How is he dead if he’s in the next season?

    • Daveo

      Im impressed at how you managed to screw-up screwing the end of the show up. I imagine the sort of person who gets kicks from that is gonna be extra bummed that they completely failed, shame…

      And great actor, having seen the US finale today I hope the second season doesnt disappoint/finds a realistic way to make THAT twist not be what it seems!

  • steve

    aslong as who the murder is is answered ill be happy.

  • Carrie

    I really like him. Can’t wait for the finale. I’m hooked on this show.

  • PepR

    Is he Irish or German?

    • Jess

      Swedish mom, American dad, grew up in Sweden.

  • PepR

    So…Germish?

    Just kidding, I thought he wa Irish though.

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