Local actors dive into meaty roles for The Killing
Two weeks of shooting remain for the first season of AMC’s new murder mystery series The Killing. The show’s cast knows how it will end, but as only one episode has aired thus far they remain tight-lipped about how it will conclude. Two local actors play prominent roles in the series; both landed parts of hyper-intelligent characters who sometimes find themselves cut off from those around them because of their smarts.
Mireille Enos, who grew up in Sugar Land, plays Sarah Linden, a new spin on an old cop trope. She’s the detective on the last day on the job. Only she’s not retirement age nor a bullet magnet. Consumed by her job, Linden plans to leave it behind, get married and trade rainy Seattle for less rainy San Francisco. A last assignment, a missing teen, starts another obsessive work cycle.
“I think Sarah feels like an alien in life,” says Enos, 35, a High School for the Performing and Visual Arts grad. “She feels better than everybody and not as good as everybody at the same time. It’s an interesting dance. She’s the smartest person in the room and filled with a rude pride about it. And the next minute she’s so awkward in somebody else’s presence.”
Linden is Enos’ biggest role to date. A Tony-nominated stage actress, she’s been appearing on TV since the mid-’90s. Her breakout role came playing the Marquart twins on Big Love starting in 2007.
Eric Ladin plays Jamie Wright, a campaign manager for a city councilman who is running for mayor. And he uses the exact same phrase Enos did about his character’s blessing/burden.
“He’s not only the smartest person in the room typically,” says Ladin, “but he knows he is. And he takes some delight in that. Though it can also get him in trouble.”
Ladin, 33, first took an interest in theater while attending the Kinkaid School. “That’s where I really started to test the waters of theater,” he says. “I did competitive drama, speech and debate tournaments every week. I knew at that point it would be my calling.”
He appeared on numerous TV shows in the early ’00s, but Ladin’s big break came in 2008 with the HBO mini-series Generation Kill, playing Cpl. James Chaffin. Since then he’s kept busy pinging between shows on HBO and AMC. He had a recurring part as William Hofstadt, Betty Draper’s brother, on Mad Men. And last season he showed up on Big Love as Roquet Walker.
If the two characters share a brightness, they differ greatly in the way they carry themselves in the world. Enos’ Linden is all internalized with economic use of language. Forced to work on the case with her replacement, a brash newcomer, she relies on disapproving expressions instead of damning comments when he says or does something that offends.
“It’s such a gift in the writing that it allows some of the actors to just live in their minds,” she says. “You just trust the audience to stay with it instead of trying to explain everything. TV had fallen into this trap of thinking its audience was dumb. Explaining every little detail makes for boring entertainment. So I think it’s quite brave in that regard.”
Ladin’s Wright, by contrast, has virtually no unspoken thoughts. “He feels like he can say anything,” he says. “He’s confident he’s saying what needs to be said. Outside the campaign he sometimes tends to filter more judiciously.”
It makes Wright a tough character to like at the outset. “But that’s part of the fun,” Ladin says. “Right off the bat he’s not the most lovable guy. But throughout the series I think you’ll find reasons to be compassionate toward him.”
The Killing shoots in Vancouver, which sits in for Seattle, though numerous downtown/Space Needle shots are interspersed through the show. Through the first few episodes the weather reflects the tone of the show: storm clouds, rain, storm clouds, rain. Enos says the pilot was shot while she was pregnant, and production was paused while she had her child last September. “We’re starting to see much more sun now,” she says. “We’re really rushing to get it all done before Vancouver’s beautiful spring settles in. It’s definitely far from Houston.”
Says Ladin, “I’ve been in L.A. for 15 years now; before that it was Houston. So cold, rainy and grey is not really in my weather vocabulary.”
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