TORONTOSUN.COM – NEW YORK – As an actor in Sweden, Joel Kinnaman didn’t yearn to go Hollywood – notwithstanding the fact that “going Hollywood” today means spending most of 2015 in Sudbury and Toronto.
“Sudbury is a great place to shoot, because you focus on the work. There are no distractions, even if you want to be distracted,” quips Kinnaman, who’s in theatres this week as Liam Neeson’s boxer son in the latest Neeson shoot-‘em-up Run All Night.
Kinnaman, the erstwhile lead in AMC’s The Killing, is currently atop the Canadian Shield finishing an indie psychological thriller called Beyond The Pale.
Later this month, he moves to Toronto to start filming Suicide Squad, the anti-hero DC franchise featuring Jared Leto as The Joker, Margot Robbie as his psychotic girlfriend Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot.
Kinnaman is reportedly playing alpha-male team leader Rick Flag, though, after talking about bulking up for the role, he adds with a sheepish smile, “I never said I play Rick Flag.”
Such is the level of secrecy on nine-figure tent-pole movies. Suffice to say the Joel Kinnaman you’ll see fleeing the New York mob alongside Neeson in Run All Night is a mere 182 pounds, compared to the 210-pounder we sat with in New York on Monday. “I’m so tired of eating,” he says with a grin.
Suicide Squad is a role Kinnaman inherited after Tom Hardy backed out of the movie in January. The two seem weirdly connected. Kinnaman was on the short list to star in the upcoming Mad Max reboot that Hardy stars in (he was also in the final four for Thor behind Chris Hemsworth). Recently Kinnaman and Hardy starred together in an upcoming police thriller set in Russia, Child 44.
Kinnaman was still living in Stockholm when those hero auditions came around. He’d been acting since age 10, when his sister’s boyfriend Daniel Bergman (son of Ingmar) convinced him to try out for a child role in a soap opera he was directing. It lasted one and a half years.
“And then I went on with my life. But when I was 20, Gustaf Skarsgard, Stellen Skarsgard’s son, was my best friend. And he’d gotten into the National Theatre School and he was talking so passionately about it. And I thought maybe I’d give it a try. (As an audition) I did a monologue with an older actor, a scene from Long Day’s Journey into Night.
“And it just took me places, and I got filled with emotions. After I finished it was quiet, and the guy looked at me and said, ‘Y’know, if you wanted, this could be your profession.’”
From there, Kinnaman’s career took wing. Immediately post-graduation, he starred as Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, the opening production of Sweden’s new National Theatre.
“After that, things escalated in a way I couldn’t dream of. I did nine lead roles in films in 16 months. And we only make like 30 films a year in Sweden.”
Which is when Hollywood scouts came calling. “I don’t know how close I came to Thor, but the last audition was six hours,” he says.
Kinnaman claims no nervousness acting alongside icons. But he enjoys getting to know them. “I got along great with Liam, he’s just one of those people who has a calmness and kindness that puts you at ease.
But having trained as a boxer for the role, Kinnaman does crack on the 62-year-old star’s boxing past.
“He’s a bad-ass and he’s still in really good shape, but he’d be like, ‘C’mere lad, I’ll show you something’ (puts his fists up like Jack Dempsey), and I’d be like, ‘That’s how they boxed in the ‘20s Liam, c’mon.’”