Interview: The Killing's Mireille Enos

by Fiona Rae / 03 June, 2013
The American actress is back as Sarah Linden in the US version of the Danish series.

Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden

She will soon be seen on the big screen as Brad Pitt's wife in World War Z, but she has returned for the third season of The Killing, starting Wednesday on SoHo. The new RoboCop, Joel Kinnaman, also returns, and cast members include Peter Sarsgaard and Elias Koteas.

Congratulations, you’re back for a third season. We’re really lucky and I’m so grateful because [creator and executive producer] Veena [Sud] had already definitely laid out the plot of a three-season arc and I’m sure she had more seasons in her mind, but this third season she had already laid breadcrumbs as early as the pilot of year one and it felt so heartbreaking to not get to tell the end of this story which is so important for Sarah’s journey. Anyway, I’m thrilled. The whole show has grown this year, we have this incredible new cast and it’s found an even edgier look, and it’s working really well this year.

What has changed – we’re getting intimations that it’s not going to be as rainy, maybe not quite as gloomy as it was in the first two seasons, what’s new? Visually that’s true, the storyline is I think darker than the first two seasons. Sarah’s dealing with a serial killer. With the Rosie case there was always a sense of it being kind-of random violence, and this year it’s very calculated violence and repeated violence which I find to be a darker subject matter. And we’re also dealing with death row. In the first two seasons there was this historic case – the Picasso case – that Sarah was never peaceful about having put this man away. A boy’s mother was killed, they put the father away, and now that man is sitting on death row. There’s potential evidence that they did in fact get the wrong guy and there’s this ticking clock of this man sitting on death row, and that’s who Peter Sarsgaard plays.

Does that mean we’re going to get a bit more of Linden’s back story because of this case? Yeah, the case definitely brings up a lot of stuff with her, a lot of questions and doubts, and she’s also reunited with her old partner, who she was with when they put Peter Sarsgaard’s character away and he’s part of this larger investigation. So there’s all of that history too which is super-interesting, and the relationship between she and Holder of course – they continue to know each other more and more and need each other more and more.

At the start, she’s no longer a cop, she’s working a low-wage job, she has a boyfriend and it seems like she’s in a healthier place – why would she go back? Yeah, at least momentarily she’s managed to strip her life and start fresh in a healthier place. I don’t think it could be a long-term solution; her boyfriend is 25 years old, and she’s working the ferries, which I think would only be satisfying for so long, but she did do a good job for the short term of making her life peaceful. It makes it complicated for her going back in, because when she goes back into the police force she’s much less guarded, and some of those walls were actually helpful and protective while she was around such violence.

With Joel Kinnaman as Stephen Holder

Holder [Joel Kinnaman’s character] looks like he’s in a better place too – he’s wearing nice suits, he’s playing it straight; it almost seems as if being together is unhealthy for them. Well, they each have complicated sides of their personality. I don’t know that they bring out the worst in each other, I think they’re able to acknowledge for each other what those tricky places are. Both of them in this last year are trying a different tactic. Holder got super-ambitious. Sarah is dubious about whether you can actually be an undercover cop and do a good job if you’re wearing suits.

He looks good in a suit though, doesn’t he? He sure does, doesn’t he? Especially with his RoboCop shoulders.

Season three also has this issue of kids who run away and live on the streets – is that something that Veena wanted to particularly highlight? Definitely, she’s been really concerned about this epidemic in Seattle and the whole Pacific Northwest of street kids who are drug addicts and prostitutes and its growing and growing and nothing is being done about, and that’s the population that is being targeted in this serial murder case.

This is an original story, not one based on the Danish series – has that been freeing for Veena and the production? I imagine so, I never watched the Danish show, I was unclear about how tethered we were in the first two years. I know the Holder character was completely different from the Danish one, that partnership was totally different, so we had already taken our own track in some ways and I think the seeds of this case in season three, that was our own, so I imagine for Veena it’s nice to get to a point where she’s just completely telling her own story.

What do you make of the Scandinavian influence coming through in crime series? I know there’s really interesting storytelling coming out of that part of the world. The weather there is pretty moody, and that lends itself to wonderfully moody stories.

Peter Sarsgaard as death row inmate Ray Seward

Audiences seem to like the gloomy, melancholy thing – do you put that down to anything? I think the whodunit genre has been popular for forever and I think audiences are getting more sophisticated, especially on cable. Cable’s become this medium where they’re able to do more risky storytelling and people fall in love with these characters and I think they enjoy getting to spend longer time with them. More and more film writers and actors are coming to TV because they get to live with these characters for a long time and I think audiences are responding to that.

Has The Killing been quite a big deal for your career – you’ve gone on to do a movie with Brad Pitt and you’ve got other things in the offing. Yeah, absolutely, it kind-of opened the doors to the future world. There’s only so much you can do until you have the part, and Sarah is such a multilayered wonderful role and gave me an open forum to do my work, and from there it’s allowed me to meet with wonderful feature directors and I’ve been able to do five features in three years, so I’m a really lucky girl.

THE KILLING, SoHo, Sky 010, Wednesday, 8.30pm.
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