Past haunts show's in-depth characters

Mysterious, murky, multidimensional, captivating, somber, sad.

While those adjectives can apply to the whole of “The Killing,” they also serve as able descriptions for the individual characters themselves. Three of the male leads — Stan, played by Brent Sexton; Holder, one of the detectives on the case, played by Joel Kinnaman; and mayoral candidate Darren Richmond, played by Billy Campbell — are men who are often as dark and impenetrable as the leaden Seattle skies.

For instance, Stan has a bundle of secrets in his nefarious past, and they emerge as the series progresses.

“This was my favorite script I read all of pilot season,” says Sexton, who is a familiar face to auds following a turn on “Deadwood.” “As I told (exec producer) Veena (Sud), my favorite characters are the ones who are conflicted not only externally but internally. I couldn’t wait to dive into it. It was so rich with the idea of, ‘Can you escape that past person you were?’ ”

In the case of Holder, there is a sketchy backstory that also revealed itself as episodes unfolded.

“It’s great when a series can go into this kind of depth with characters, but also has the confidence to tell the story in a slow-building way,” says Kinnaman, who started his career in his native Sweden and possesses dual citizenship there and in the U.S. “There is a kind of melancholy to it.”

Stan worked for the mob. Holder has a substance-abuse past. For Campbell’s character, there was a tragedy in his life that shaped his current existence. Not only is the city councilman haunted by it, but he also has to balance his desire for success with the nasty reality of modern political campaigning.

Sexton considers himself a nice guy. But he realizes that people aren’t that easily defined. Those gray areas, he believes, make “The Killing” such a fulfilling experience for an actor.

“I study a lot of human behavior and I know that any human being is capable of anything given the right conditions,” he says.

Kinnaman also appreciates the depths of the characters on the show.

“What I look for in a script or character is contrasts,” he says. “How many different colors are there? In most scripts, one or two characters have a lot of colors. When I read this script, I could already see five or six characters with a lot of colors.”

ROAD TO THE EMMYS: THE SUPPORTING ACTOR & ACTRESS:
Supporting drama actor race wide open| Shows elevate when ensembles gel
Drama
Peter Dinklage | Michelle Forbes | Irrfan Khan | “The Killing” cast | Kelly Macdonald | Margo Martindale | Denis O’Hare | Amy Ryan | Michael Shannon | Donnie Wahlberg |
Comedy

Mayim Bialik | Garret Dillahunt | Oliver Platt | Adam Scott

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