Probably the biggest selling point of Amazon’s Hanna — writer David Farr‘s reboot of his 2011 movie, which starred Saoirse Ronan as the title character, Eric Bana as Erik, her father, and Cate Blanchett as Marissa, the evil CIA operative — is the on-screen reunion of Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman. The duo first came to television prominence in the brooding crime series The Killing — playing homicide detective duo Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder — and, on March 29th, they’ll face each other once again in Amazon’s dramatic-thriller. But if you think the chemistry between the two will be reminiscent of AMC’s hit program, you’ve got another thing coming.
During Collider’s set visit to Budapest, Hungary, we had a chance to sit down and speak with Kinnaman and Enos — separately, because we had to roll with Amazon’s kinetic production schedule — and when both were questioned about their relationship in Hanna, they were quick to point out that fans of The Killing may be taken offguard.
“I think some people are gonna be a little disappointed, you know, because I know that there are a lot of people that really loved our relationship on The Killing and are very excited to see us play again,” Kinnaman told a small group of press. “I think there’s going to be an automatic longing to sort of see a similar kind of dynamic but there’s not going to be any of that. It’s very different.”
Enos echoed Kinnaman’s sentiments. “There’s no crossover, there’s none,” she said, plainly and simply. “There, we were partners with, like, a completely non-kind of romantic relationship. So we had each other’s back and we were not interested in making out. And here, we are enemies with, potentially, a history. So it’s like the polar opposite which has been fun!”
While the relationship that plays out between the two in Hanna is vastly different — Kinnaman plays Erik, Hanna’s vengeful father and former employee of Enos’ Marissa, who, for all intents and purposes, is the villain of the series — the actors were quick to acknowledge the natural chemistry that came with working together again … even if Erik’s goal is, according to Kinnaman, “securing the future and safety of Hanna.” How can he accomplish this task? “Marissa has to go down,” the actor explained.
For the duo, playing this different antagonistic dynamic has been a breath of fresh air and thoroughly enjoyable. “I wondered going in, what’s it going to be like to play this different dynamic with him because there are scenes where we end up talking about the past and stuff,” Enos revealed. “It was so fun. It’s just like a dance.”
This dance partner analogy is something actors are familiar with. When in a scene, you’re only as good as the partner you’re working with, which shows that even if the characters being played are on opposite sides, this sort of behind-the-scenes teamwork is essential. With that said, Kinnaman thoroughly agreed with Enos’ assessment, going so far as to use the same exact analogy.
“The big thing is, you know, we’re really good dance partners and I think it was on Enos’ first real day, we had big, big chunky scenes and it was the first day with a new director. So we’re all, you know, trying out new stuff. But, I mean, it felt so free! […] Even though we were playing different characters, it’s just … she’s just so good. And it was so easy to improvise and just go a little left or right. You know, we’re like dance partners who are very used to each other.”
Given the deep history between their characters — Erik turned against his former boss and is now seeking revenge for Marissa’s lethally manipulative actions against him and his family — and the actors’ own history working with each other, their off-screen relationship helped to sell their dynamic on screen in a way that was equally fulfilling, as well.
“He’s my brother. He’s one of my dearest dear friends,” Enos explained, referencing her admiration for Kinnaman. “That’s just kind of the magic that life handed us. We hadn’t met before we were cast together in The Killing. We met on the airplane to fly up to shoot the pilot. And by the time we got off that three-hour flight, we were, like, finishing each other’s sentences. We were just easy together right from the start. And then we spent four years making that show.”
While she was quick to identify their relationship on the AMC series as “non-romantic,” things between Erik and Marissa seem to fall into more of a grey area in Hanna. “I don’t know if romantic is the right word,” Enos alluded, trying to careful choose her words. “But there was something charged there. And so, there was a betrayal so … when she’s in this kind of manhunt for him, it’s not a stranger, there’s a cost there, too. […] She was alone in Germany and, you know, so that … he was potentially … ‘friends’ is probably too strong a word, but there was, there was something.”
The seasoned actors both prepared for these roles in different ways, with Enos doing emotional work, while partnering with the costume department to bring Marissa to life, while Joel — who worked with coaches to get his Eastern German dialect just right — decided to remove himself from civilization for a few days altogether.
“When I came down here, it was one of the first things I wanted to do,” Kinnaman said with a laugh, before telling us about his trip to a remote cabin located in the Poland’s Tatra Mountains. He stayed in the area for three days and while he admitted this adventure helped him get in touch with Erik on a physical and spiritual level, he was quick to admit he may have been a bit in over his head after sharing there were “many reports of animal activity around the cabin.”
“I wasn’t sure how I was going to react,” he continued. “There was no electricity, there was no running water, nothing. I had to get up at night to re-light the fire because it was -15 [degrees] outside. […] First, I was freaking out. And I was, like, coming up with all these excuses of why I was going to abandon this experiment and come home the day after. I was like, ‘This is ridiculous! I’m obviously jet-lagged and I need a good night’s sleep if I’m going to be able to prepare!’ And then I realized this is what I’m here for, just to get over these kinds of thoughts. I don’t think three days, it doesn’t give you that much insight into what an experience of being off the grid for 15 years is, but it really was a great place to fantasize about it.”
Not only did Kinnaman put himself in Erik’s position, physically — after all, his on-screen character spends roughly 15 years raising Hanna in the forest away from civilization, training and educating her while constantly staying on the lookout for Marissa’s goons — he also used an East German friend’s experience escaping the oppression of his home country as an inspiration to get in the man’s mindset.
“It was a friend of my sister’s — an actor who fled from Eastern Germany, he defected,” Kinnaman revealed. “I remember having those conversations with him and just, you know, what kind of a climate it creates. And, you know, that’s not to say that everyone that grew up in Eastern Germany is damaged in this way, but I think that there were a lot more that really were. We dove pretty deep into it while we were doing Child 44, as well: that sort of specific communist oppression where there’s informants in your own family and you can’t really trust anyone. And that’s such a fucked up way to live.”
That issue of trust between parent and child is something that was explored in the 2011 iteration of Hanna, and both actors make reference to a similar dysfunctional family dynamic that plays out in the new series.
“You know, at the very beginning, she’s a mystery,” Enos explained of Marissa’s view of Hanna. “I saw her as an infant and now I see her as this teenage girl. There’s been a lot of years to imagine what that person might have been and then, suddenly, there’s the reality of her. And she’s a strange creature, too. But then, this first season, watching Marissa’s curiosity about Hanna, and her admiration grow, is a little bit complicated. I’m trying to capture her and potentially murder her, you know, it’s a very funny balance.”
Kinnaman admitted he’s regularly drawn to flawed characters who commit a personal sacrifice, and Erik is no different. While his on screen character is, as he put it, “someone that has, you know, for a big chunk of their life, not done many things that they’re proud,” the actor acknowledges that the journey Erik is on will finally allow him to put someone else first, giving the man a path to absolution.
“Here, he kind of gives himself the road to redemption by sacrificing everything for this baby. You know, through that sacrifice, he goes through some kind of soul cleansing process — even though it’s not very cleansing, what he does to protect her. But I see it as some kind of sacrifice. Also the many layers of what it means to be a parent. And what is a parent? What is a family?”
A decade and a half ago, Marissa experimented on babies to alter their DNA in hopes to create some sort of super soldier. Erik saw the moral implications in this and his actions in stealing Hanna as an infant kicked off this whole adventure, leading to a heart-wrenching loss and a newfound reason to move forward: To love and protect this special young girl at any cost. As high concept as Hanna is, on a basic human level, there’s a definite theme about being a parent and maintaining that father-daughter relationship, even once the child in question is mature enough to leave the nest.
“From talking to my honest friends when they explain, because I don’t have kids yet, when they talk about all the different emotions that come in … some of the feelings and thoughts you have, you’re not proud of. It’s like, you don’t really want to tell anyone about it. So I think there’s, there’s so many — guilt, shame, jealousy, pride — there’s so many different conflicting emotions going on. I think that, also, something that we were talking about with Hanna, even though Erik isn’t honest with her, is she’s the first person that he has been able to trust. So to then have her come out in the world and get affected by it and, all of a sudden, you know, can he still trust?”
It’s an intriguing notion. Because if a father can’t trust his own daughter, the clear path of that thought process leads back to the man’s own self doubt, where he’d eventually ask if he can even trust himself.
“I think anyone that doesn’t have perfect parents will realize that the frustration and the anger that you feel at yourself when, all of a sudden, your worst aspects of your parents’ behavior, that you swore to yourself that you would never repeat, all of a sudden just comes out completely in your own behavior,” Kinnaman continued. “I think that’s something that’s going over and over again.”
Hanna will premiere all eight episodes on March 29th on Amazon Prime Video.