A recovering drug addict seeking redemption, Holder is among the most compelling characters on “The Killing,” which concludes its second season June 17 on AMC. That’s saying something, given that the show — a broody drama that probes the dark nexus of politics and the law in Seattle — boasts one of the strongest ensemble casts on television. But although Kinnaman, 32, may remain best known as a badly damaged cop to the show’s die-hard fans, he is starting to emerge from Holder’s long shadow. He appears in two movies this summer — Fox Searchlight’s “Lola Versus,” which opens June 15, and the Weinstein Co.’s “Easy Money,” opening Aug. 10 at Landmark E Street. And although filming has yet to begin, he’s signed for the starring role in the reboot of “RoboCop,” tentatively scheduled for release next summer.
His perfect English notwithstanding, the strikingly handsome, green-eyed Kinnaman was born and raised in Stockholm, the son of a Swedish mother and an expatriate American father (an Army deserter who fled Vietnam). The actor moved to America in 2009.
“I was struggling,” the actor said of his first few months in this country, making his way through a steak salad and two glasses of pinot noir poolside at the Beverly Hilton. “I wasn’t really getting anything.”
He arrived in the United States with high expectations. He’d attended theater school for five years in Sweden and afterward played Raskolnikov in a nearly four-hour Swedish stage adaptation of Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.”
“The reviews were very good,” he recalled. “That gave a lot of directors and producers the confidence that I could carry projects. I went on an insane work streak, filming nine features in 16 months.”
The last of them was “Snabba Cash,” which the Weinstein Co. has titled “Easy Money” in America. (A sequel, “Snabba Cash 2,” also starring Kinnaman, recently screened at the Cannes Film Festival.)
“In Sweden, we only make 25 to 30 movies a year,” Kinnaman said, “so to have been the lead in so many in a single year is high exposure. I thought it was the right time to come to the States. I thought I could be believable in various roles. I didn’t think I’d have to play the guard at Auschwitz. You know, the evil German — or the corrupt Russian. I did the whole go-round when I arrived, the auditions and the meetings with people who had no idea what I’d done.”
Then, while in Sweden for New Year’s, he made an audition tape for “The Killing,” without much enthusiasm. “I wasn’t that hungry for it,” he said. “But my agent said, ‘Put yourself on tape.’ I said I would and then almost forgot about it.”
That tape – hastily assembled, by the actor’s own admission – stunned those casting the show. “From the moment I saw him, I knew he was right,” said Veena Sud, the creator and showrunner of “The Killing.” “I knew he was Holder, and we had to have him.”