As military man Rick Flag, Joel Kinnaman babysits some of DC Comics’ baddest villains as they band together for an unlikely world-saving mission in Warner Bros’ Suicide Squad. While the film’s blockbuster earnings and often-scathing reviews have inspired endless chatter, the 36-year-old actor is out to spread the word about another film he stars in that’s coming to theaters this Friday. Edge of Winter is a tense psychological thriller in which Kinnaman plays a divorced, increasingly unstable father whose hunting trip with his two sons — played by Tom Holland (aka, Marvel’s newest Spider-Man) and Percy Hynes-White — quickly goes off the rails. In anticipation of its debut, we chatted with Kinnaman about Suicide Squad’s negative reviews, what drew him to Edge of Winter, and how his big-screen roles tend to involve firearms.
What’s been your reaction to Suicide Squad‘s negative critical reception?
Of course, you want to get great reviews. But the existence of an actor is basically, 95% of the time, we’re being told that, no, that wasn’t quite right. You have to develop pretty thick skin, and make yourself not completely dependent on what other people think.
In a film like Suicide Squad, the main ambition is to entertain. It doesn’t have any political aspirations. It doesn’t really dig deep, other than to portray these characters honestly. So with that kind of ambition, it becomes even more important what the fans think. I was disappointed, and I thought it was unjust the way that we were reviewed in some of the magazines. But at the same time, I was really happy, and actually a bit blown away, by the fans’ response. I don’t remember ever seeing a bigger split between what the critics and the audience thought of a film. It was a pretty big difference.
Would you be up for a sequel?
For sure. We had so much fun making this film. We really became a little family. So if nothing else, I want to do another one just so I can hang out with all of my friends again. I definitely think that, if this film is successful, then they’re going to do another one.
Did you film Edge of Winter before or after Suicide Squad?
Before. I finished Edge of Winter eight days before my first shooting day on Suicide Squad. It was fortunate that they were both sort of in the same neck of the woods. I shot Edge of Winter in Sudbury, Canada, which is a 4- to 5-hour drive from Toronto. So on a couple of the weekends that I had on Edge, I went down to Toronto and did some stunt training and stuff like that.
I would have loved a little bit more time in between them, but you don’t get that luxury. I had five days between Suicide Squad and House of Cards after that, so it was a pretty hectic year.
How do you manage such a transition, especially between such varied projects?
You just flip that switch, and you focus on what’s ahead of you. Edge of Winter was such a short shoot. We shot it in 19 days, and probably with a smaller budget than the catering department had on Suicide Squad [laughs]. But at the same time, every day on a film like this, you’re doing something substantial. And this character was one of the most challenging I’ve ever done. That’s what drew me to the film, was the opportunity to try to portray and give an understanding to a man, and to a type of man — you know, it’s so hard to find a redeeming quality about a man that becomes a threat to the life of his own children. I’m drawn to a lot of different kinds of characters, but I felt that this was a really unique opportunity. A character like this, he can say a lot about our whole society. Because some people are wired in a certain way where they’re just not quite able to function in society if they don’t get a very special attention, or if they fall under certain circumstances.
I found that really intriguing — and not just to do a villain; to give an audience an understanding of what’s behind this kind of behavior. Because I think that understanding is the key. When we just rule somebody out as crazy, that’s when we can’t learn from our mistakes, and that’s when we can’t prevent [bad choices] from happening again. There are a lot of films made about revenge and these primal emotions, which I have a lot of understanding for. But it’s also really important to make films where somebody that has done something incomprehensible — you can at least see what kind of person he is, and where he came from. I think it makes us more whole, to get that kind of understanding. I think this was an opportunity to do that, but in a film that’s also a very exciting, heart-thumping psychological thriller.
In the taut wilderness thriller Edge of Winter, Joel Kinnaman plays an unemployed, single dad with seething personal issues and more than a bit of a mean streak. It’s another complex character in an increasingly long line of layered performances by Kinnaman, who always manages to bring humanity to his roles, no matter how flawed the characters may be.
After his breakout role in the Swedish crime thriller Easy Money (aka Snabba Cash), Kinnaman came to widespread attention for his portrayal of detective Holder in AMC’s The Killing. Now, like many actors these days, he seems comfortable sliding between Hollywood tentpoles like Robocop and Suicide Squad, independent productions like Edge of Winter and even television with roles on House of Cards and the streaming service’s upcoming cyberpunk show Altered Carbon.
Since Edge of Winter sees release tomorrow (Friday, August 12), ScreenAnarchy caught up with Kinnaman to discuss what drew him to the project.
Screen Anarchy: First of all, congratulations on EDGE OF WINTER and your superb performance. I’m wondering what appealed to you about the project?
Joel Kinnaman: It was this character that really drew me in. It felt like there was an opportunity here to play a very complex character, a very difficult character, in a film that could also be a very exciting and horiffying psychological thriller.
I saw an opportunity to give nuance and perhaps some kind of understanding to a father that becomes a threat to his children’s lives — which is about as low as you can go. I saw a big challenge to humanize him in some way and get an understanding of where that kind of incomprehensible behaviour could come from.
I get the sense that you’re drawn to these types of complicated characters that push you into really dark places. One of my favourites is Holder on THE KILLING and it seems to be a theme in your career. What is it about this specifically that appeals to you?
If we were honest with ourselves, none of us are perfect in any way. And that’s why I’m drawn to the flaws. I don’t think it’s particularly interesting to watch a perfect human behave in a perfect way. It’s much more interesting to see why it doesn’t work and how you can still love somebody who has been damaged.
I think that even though we often want to distance ourselves from flawed people — people who perhaps didn’t receive the help they needed through life — really, they’re a symbol of what we all carry.
Is it hard for you to leave that mental space shen you finish shooting at the end of the day? Or do you carry some of that with you? Is it inevitable?
Sometimes it lingers, especially when you’ve gone to some personal places. In playing these kinds of roles and in acting in general, I feel that what I do is, I don’t really let my wounds heal. Things in my life that I’ve actually overcome already, that I no longer feel insecrure or sad about, I try to leave those wounds a little bit open and it does leave me open to feeling a little more anxiety at times, but it’s an important tool that helps me connect with, particularly, these kinds of characters.
You worked with a couple of young actors in this movie, including Tom Holland. I wonder if you passed on any of this wisdom to your young co-stars.
We would talk a lot and they were both very impressive. They really blew me away in how easily they could access deep emotion. And they really came to play. A lot of time with younger actors they want to do the fun stuff, like the action or the running, but they really wanted to dig deep. There was a vibe on set between us where the underline was, “We are really all going for it here. We’re not playing around.” And they were so game for it. So we had a lot of conversations about the work.
I really loved playing with young actors. It’s one of the most rewarding things because they’re so much closer to their original source of our profession, of playing. Becasue it’s a version of playing like we did when we were kids. And most adults forget what that is. They don’t have that in them anymore. Whereas if you’re an actor that’s good, that’s what you do. And that’s your job. So when you get into with a couple of kids, or young actors that are really talented, they tap into that so quickly and it becomes really inspiring.
So you’re team DC, Tom Holland is team Marvel. Was there any animosity between the two of you?
Well I actually helped Tommy with his audition. He was actually auditioning for Spider-Man while we were shooting Edge of Winter.
So you’re responsible!
It’s my fault!
Hey, that’s a-okay by us! Back to EDGE OF WINTER, what was the hardest part of making it?
The most difficult aspect, but the thing that was also at the core of the film, was the elements. It was below minus 30 and we were only shooting nights out in the woods. So it was very cold. So it was that, but at the same time we were really going for it with this one.
It’s really obvious in the fim. You can almost taste how cold it was. It really comes through.
Before I let you go, is there anything you can tell us about your new [cyberpunk] project, ALTERED CARBON?
Well, I’m coming back to Canada! I’m hoping to get that citizenship because I spend more time there than I do in the US.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about a project than Altered Carbon. It’s just something that’s never been done before. It’s a sci-fi show that has a hard R rating and at the same time has a very high budget. It’s going to be 10 hours, but it’s like five decent-sized films in terms of budget.
We’re really going to be able to tell the story how it’s supposed to be told. It’s a sci-fi noir, Blade Runner-ish story that is just really fascinating and will give us all a take on what 500 years in the future could be like where techology has changed what the perception of life is and what the human body is and what the meaning of life is. And we do this through a detective story.
The ambition is so high from Netflix and Skydance, everybody involved in this project is the best in the game so it’s really going to be really fucking cool.
SA: Thanks Joel, it was a pleasure speaking with you. We’ll be sure to look for you around town in Vancouver when you begin shooting.
A lot of time is spent wondering if Joel Kinnaman’s desperate dad will cross into The Shining territory as a father taking his young sons on a man-up winter hunting trip in the secluded north only to learn they are moving to another country with their mom (Rachelle Lefevre) and her new fellow.
Like us, teen son Bradley (Tom Holland, Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War) senses tension and realizes it’s best to keep dad calm, while younger Caleb (Percy Hynes White of Cast No Shadow, typically good here) is initially just glad to be with the troubled parent they rarely see.
Shiloh Fernandez and Rossif Sutherland play hunters who inadvertently become involved in the drama. Not much new here, but there are solid performances and you have to admire cast and crew for shooting amid some challenging surroundings in snowy Sudbury.
Tom Holland gained worldwide recognition and fame when he debuted in Captain America: Civil War as the latest iteration of the superhero web-slinger, and he’ll soon headline his own Marvel movie Spider-Man: Homecoming. Before that, he impressed audiences and critics with films like The Impossible, How I Live Now, and In the Heart of the Sea. In his latest non-blockbuster fair, Edge of Winter, he co-stars with Suicide Squad’s Joel Kinnaman, and you can preview his performance in the new trailer.
Here we find Holland as Bradley, one of two brothers (the other played by Percy Hynes White) stranded on a day trip with their father Elliot (Kinnaman), whom they barely know. Recently divorced from their mother and laid off, this unpredictable man begins terrifying the boys when they are stranded at a remote cabin. Watch the trailer below.
Edge of Winter is the feature film directorial debut of Rob Connolly, who previously worked as a cinematographer, camera operator, and gaffer on various projects. The film, co-written by Connolly and Capote producer Kyle Mann, also features Rachelle Lefevre (Under the Dome) and Shiloh Fernandez (Evil Dead).
Edge of Winter opens in theaters on August 12. Here’s the official synopsis:
Recently divorced and laid off from his job, Elliot Baker (Joel Kinnaman, Suicide Squad; Run All Night) is desperate to spend more time bonding with his sons, Bradley (Tom Holland, Captain America: Civil War) and Caleb (Percy Hynes White, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb). What starts as family day trip to teach his boys how to shoot turns into a nightmare when they become stranded. As they retreat to a desolate cabin, Elliot’s mounting fear of losing custody pushes him to the edge. The brothers quickly realize that the man responsible for keeping them safe has now become their biggest threat.
THEWRAP.COM – Joel Kinnaman has started filming the indie movie “Backcountry” just as he has confirmed that he’ll play Rick Flagg in WB’s “Suicide Squad,” as TheWrap first reported.
“All I can say is that I will be in the movie, and it’s going to be amazing,” Kinnaman told French entertainment website Allocine during press rounds for his upcoming action-thriller “Run All Night.”
Kinnaman joins Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto in the comic book movie, which is being directed by David Ayer.
“Backcountry,” meanwhile, marks the feature directorial debut of BAFTA winner Rob Connolly. The suspense thriller started production last week in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.
Kinnaman stars alongside Tom Holland (“The Impossible”), Percy Hynes-White (“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb”) and Rachelle LeFevre (“Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”).
Kyle Mann wrote the script and will produce the movie, which is being co-produced by Michael Risley. Executive producers are Jeff Sackman and Jonathan Bronfman.
Kinnaman plays Elliot Baker, who seizes the chance to develop a better relationship with his sons when his ex-wife Karen (LeFevre) and her new husband take a vacation and leave the boys with him. What starts as a bonding opportunity turns into a nightmarish adventure when they get stranded in a deserted cabin near the lake as night falls and a snowstorm rages. Bradley (Holland) and Caleb (Hynes-White) quickly learn more about their father and what they truly mean to him in this gripping tale of family and survival.
“I think the characterization of the single father is given a new dimension in this film,” said Mann. “We’re shooting in the wilderness; we’re in snow country which already brings a level of authenticity to the story. And I’m confident that with Rob Connolly, who is such an exciting new talent, directing our amazing cast, the nuances of these complex relationships will come to light.”
“Backcountry” is produced by Drive Productions in association with JoBro Productions and Tajj Media which holds worldwide distribution rights. Production is slated to wrap on March 28, after which Kinnaman will segue to “Suicide Squad.”