The AMC drama series The Killing, currently in its second season, ties together three distinct stories around a single murder – the detectives assigned to the case, the victim’s grieving family, and the suspects. While Season 1 was all about questions and red herrings, Season 2 is starting to uncover those answers while delving into and exploring the notion that everyone has past secrets that are now coming back to haunt them. And, the resolution of who killed Rosie Larson (Katie Findlay) will be answered at the conclusion of this season.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Eric Ladin (who plays master strategist Jamie Wright, Mayoral candidate Darren Richmond’s campaign manager) talked about being surprised by the reaction fans had to the Season 1 finale, what fans can expect from his character in Season 2, how viewers will finally get to learn more about Jamie’s backstory, how much darker and more intense things will get as they head toward the big reveal, how much of his arc he was told at the beginning of the season, and his favorite episodes. He also talked about how he’s hoping to direct a project after Season 2 wraps, that he hopes to get to do a western at some point, and that he’d love to do a guest spot on Breaking Bad, The Good Wife or Damages. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
ERIC LADIN: Yeah, I was. I do believe that AMC probably could have marketed it a different way, but at the same time, I didn’t think it deserved the backlash that it got. I thought that was a little much. At the end of the day, it’s just television. There’s not really a dead girl in a trunk. It’s a television show that’s meant to entertain. Even if it doesn’t follow the exact guidelines that you believe are how television should go, different things are good. I think a lot of us, who are very close to the project, knew from the Danish series (Forbrydelsen) that it took two seasons, so I guess we never really thought about it much. We knew that that took two seasons, and that was the formula that we were following.
Did you expect the show to become as popular and as talked-about as it has?
LADIN: I guess I had hoped it would, more than I thought it would. Once I got here and actually started shooting Season 1, I realized that we had something special. I knew that we had a show that our audience would really enjoy. And then, I thought this was going to be a show that has a pretty loyal following with people sitting around, talking about it and debating who they think did it. That’s one of the reasons why I was so surprised at the backlash. That’s the fun part about our show.
Were you at all worried that you’d lose some of your audience for Season 2, or do you feel like that kind of hot debate would ensure that they would tune in again, even if they said they weren’t?
LADIN: The people that were so passionate about how much they disliked the finale are only people who obviously really liked our show, otherwise they wouldn’t have been so passionate about it. I think that they’re in a dark room, watching it and just pretending they’re not.
LADIN: After what happened to Darren (Billy Campbell), in the first two hours, I think Jamie is lost. Jamie is somebody whose life is his work. And so, when all of a sudden this happens to Darren and everything has ground to a halt and it’s not really about the election anymore, it’s about so much more, Jamie is forced to look within and decide what there is beyond work and how this friendship is going to dictate how he goes forward. In a sense, I think that Jamie has a lot of soul searching throughout Season 2, from beginning to end, but primarily in the first five or six episodes.
How will Darren’s condition affect their relationship?
LADIN: Right now, the election is a far cry from importance. Right now, it’s just about trying to keep somebody alive and try to move on with their lives. It’s about so much more than becoming mayor. And then, as we move through the season, we have all sorts of questions to ask. How does this affect the race? How does this affect a political future, down the road? Not just this race in particular, but moving forward?
Were there things about your character’s backstory that you were most interested in learning about him?
LADIN: Yes, and there are things about his backstory that the audience will finally get to learn. Jamie was one of those characters that everybody said, “Well, we don’t know too much about him, and that’s why we’re thinking he’s weird and creepy.” But, this season, fans of the show will actually learn quite a bit more about Jamie and, through the process, I learned more about Jamie, which was nice. It was a good season for Jamie.
LADIN: It came extremely easy. In fact, I called Kristen [Lehman] before we started and said, “We’ve got a monster first two episodes. I hope that we can find our groove right away and it doesn’t take us awhile, having been off for seven months.” But, we got back on set and I feel like we gelled, instantly. I think a lot of that has to do with the way Kristen, Billy and I work together, as well as just being prepared when we went into Season 2.
Do you enjoy having that longer gap of time between seasons to recharge, or does that make it harder to get back into the groove again?
LADIN: I love working on the show so much, if we shot 26 episodes, I’d be thrilled because I love it and I love the cast. But, I also enjoy the time away, where I can focus on other things. We have such a good cast and everybody is really dedicated to the work. Once we do get back together, it doesn’t take long to channel.
How much darker and more intense will things get, as the show heads toward the big reveal?
LADIN: It’s a pretty intense season. The stakes have been raised this season, across the board. And obviously, with the time aspect, the stakes are going to be raised anyway because everybody knows what’s coming and when it’s coming. It’s really more about just having it rachet up between each character, every single episode.
How much of your arc for this season were you told up front, and how much has come script to script?
LADIN: Much like (show creator) Veena Sud’s M.O., a lot of the information comes episode by episode, which I’ve gotten accustomed to with this project, and I’m fine with that. It’s something that took a little adjusting, at the beginning, but I’ve now gotten accustomed to doing it that way and it’s been very nice. But, with that said, Veena and I had a long conversations, before the season started, about where I was headed and a very general, overall arc that Jamie was going to have. So, I was able to keep that in mind, as I went on the journey for Season 2.
LADIN: A little bit of both, but probably more the latter. When Veena asked us to trust her and use this process, I was definitely tentative. I’m a very type-A person. I like to have everything in my head and organized and laid out. It’s been a neat experience for me to not plan ahead and only be able to focus on what’s already happened in my character’s life, and deal with what comes as it comes in the script.
Do you have a favorite episode for your character this season?
LADIN: I’ve got a couple episodes that I really, really love. I loved the first two hours for Jamie because I thought it was just such a change from what we’ve been able to see, and I love that. There’s an episode coming up – either Episode 5 or 6 – that I really love. And, there are some down towards the end that I’m having a ball with. There are a few episodes this season that I think are really special, for my character in particular.
What can you say to reassure fans about the Season 2 finale?
LADIN: One of the coolest things about the show is that it allows you and your friends and other fans of the show to sit around and talk about theories. That’s a good thing. That’s not always a bad thing. Now that we’re shooting and I’ve read the back half of the season, and the end, I think it will be very rewarding for everybody that watches. I think people will be happy with it.
LADIN: I’m curious about how it would work, but I also have a good idea of how it will or won’t work. There’s nothing that I could say without giving anything away, but I definitely feel like, at the end of Season 2, the audience will have a clear idea of the plans of Season 3. Much like the Danish series, they managed to do that with other crimes.
Did you finally decide to watch the Danish series, or have you still not watched it?
LADIN: You know, I still haven’t. I think I’ve gone on so far, at this point, that I’ll wait. I’m looking at the DVDs of an entire season on my desk, but because it’s been this far, I just haven’t. To be honest, I haven’t had the time, but I will do it. At first, it was very much about me just wanting to come in on my own and be clear. Now, it’s just a matter of not having the time to sit down and watch it.
Do you have anything lined up to shoot, once you wrap on Season 2?
LADIN: Yeah, I do. I have one or two things that I’m waiting to hear about, but I’m also working on some personal directing projects of my own. So, I’ve got some personal things that I’m going to focus on, and then, as far as acting jobs, I guess only the next month will tell.
LADIN: I directed in college, and then, once I got out of college, I was acting and started working enough to stay busy, so I haven’t really had the chance. Now, I’ve just decided that it’s something I want to try to make a priority, so I’m going to start doing that. I’ve worked with so many fantastic directors that inspire me, as well as actors, and that’s really why I love directing. I love working with actors.
Are you looking to direct something that you’ve written, or someone else’s work?
LADIN: Right now, both. I’m looking at some stuff that I have on paper, as well as being given a few things that other people wrote. If I can do justice to the material, I will do that.
Is there a dream role that you’d love to do, if given the opportunity, or a TV show that you’d love to do a guest spot on?
LADIN: Oh, god, there are so many. I’m such a big television fan, so there’s a ton of shows that I like and that I’d love to work on. I love Breaking Bad. I love The Good Wife. I love Damages. That’s a show I’d love to work on. There are a lot of shows that I would love to go be a part of, just ‘cause I’m a huge fan of the shows themselves. As far as a dream role, I’ve always wanted to be in a western. I would really love to be in a western. I’m from Texas, so maybe that’s why. Is there anything better than guns, riding on a horse and drinking whiskey in a saloon?
The Killing airs on Sunday nights on AMC. If you would like to contact Eric Ladin directly, you can do so at his website at www.EricLadin.com or on Twitter at @EricLadin.