Based on the 2011 film, the Amazon Prime Original series Hanna, written and produced by David Farr (The Night Manager), who co-wrote the original feature, follows a young woman (Esmé Creed-Miles) raised in total seclusion in the remote woods of Eastern Europe by her mercenary father (Joel Kinnaman). After having spent her life training to fight the very dangerous and deadly individuals that are hunting them, including CIA operative Marissa Wiegler (Mireille Enos), Hanna becomes determined to figure out what they want from her.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Joel Kinnaman (Altered Carbon, The Killing) talked about the appeal of Hanna, being reluctant to sign on to a project for multiple years, what director Sarah Adina Smith brought to the first two episodes of the season, his experience working with co-star Esmé Creed-Miles, reuniting with his The Killing co-star Mireille Enos, and what’s up next for him.
Collider: We last spoke for Altered Carbon, which you did one season of, and now you’ve done a season of Hanna. Are you finding TV appealing right now, if it’s a project that doesn’t make you commit for the long-term?
JOEL KINNAMAN: I haven’t really said how much or little I’ll do of Hanna. That’s open-ended, so we’ll see. I look at each project individually, and then I make a decision. Nowadays, the divide between TV and film, and the quality and scope of them, is so interchangeable that you just have to look at everything, individually. Usually, there’s a reluctance to sign on for multiple years because it can complicate other engagements, and you don’t have the writing at hand, so you don’t know what’s gonna happen. That makes the gamble to so on for several seasons hard.
What was it that made you want to be a part of re-telling the story of Hanna, in this way?
KINNAMAN: It definitely always starts with the character. That’s the most important. And then, I move ahead to the story, as a whole, and the other people involved. Here, I thought it was a really interesting character. It’s someone that’s lived a very negative and destructive life, and then makes this one decision that puts him on this journey, and on a road to get some kind of redemption. And then, it was a huge draw that David Farr, who co-wrote the original film and wrote the entirety of this new season, felt that there was a story that hadn’t been told. I, personally, thought that the father-daughter story in the film was the most interesting part, but that ended after maybe half an hour, or something like that. Here, that is now arc of the first season, and I thought it was a really interesting father-daughter relationship and story that I really wanted to tell.
I was really impressed with the work that Sarah Adina Smith did on the HBO series Room 104, and because of that, I was excited that she would be directing the first two episodes of Hanna. What was your impression of her, as a director? How did you find the experience of working with her on this?
KINNAMAN: I thought it was great. She’s a visual visionary, and her passion for it was really strong. We just dove straight in. She had great ideas, and it was good ride. I thought she did a terrific job. I think the first episode just turned out so well.
So much of the success of this series and this story relies on the ability of the actor who’s playing Hanna and what the audience feels for her, and I thought Esmé Creed-Miles did a great job in this. When did you guys first meet and how did you find the experience of working together, throughout the shoot?
KINNAMAN: I met her maybe a week or 10 days before we started shooting, and we had a wonderful conversation. Of course, this is an incredible responsibility to take on, for a young woman that’s inexperienced and as a first lead role, especially when it’s an action/drama series like this. I told her that, in this business, playing the lead of an action series is probably the most taxing job that you can have because it’s both physically demanding, and because real drama is also emotionally demanding and draining, and you have to do it all at once. There’s so much responsibility, and it all comes down to how well she does. So, I tried to give her my two cents of things to think about and to be aware of, in how you manage your energy. She did a fantastic job.
This character is very methodical and strategic. He’s not somebody who seems to let emotions get in the way of what his goals are. How was that to gauge, when you’re playing a character who doesn’t really talk a lot? Was it fun to have that stillness to play with, but also still make audiences want to go on this journey with him?
KINNAMAN: Yeah, it was such a pleasure to play because of David’s writing. It’s delicate storytelling, very sparse in dialogue. Things don’t get over explained, so you leave the mystery to the actor playing the role and also to the audience. You don’t get answers to everything, and I think that’s really important.
When and how did you learn that you would be reuniting with Mireille Enos on this? Was it a surprise, when you found out that she’d also be involved?
KINNAMAN: It was pretty funny because Mireille was texting me and asking me to give some suggestions and put together a list of interesting actors, like European actors in their mid 40s. I was compiling that list and, while I was doing that, she was like, “Now, I’ve actually heard that they’re gonna come to you.” I was like, “Oh? Okay.” We’d been playing with the idea of finding something to do together, but I think it was very important for us to find something that was the polar opposite of The Killing because you don’t want to get it confused. That’s why I think this was a really good one for us to work together on. And then, it was just so fun to get together again. She’s a dear friend of mine, but she’s also definitely one of my favorite people that I’ve ever worked with. It was also fun to see that the chemistry we had wasn’t exclusive to The Killing. It was right there with this, even though the dynamic is so different.
What did you enjoy most about getting to explore this dynamic, of two people who have a deep history, but who are also much more adversarial?
KINNAMAN: Exactly, yeah. Mireille had a really interesting observation that in The Killing, we played characters that were both hiding and keeping everyone from not seeing who they really are, and then we would slowly discover each other. Whereas here, we’re adversaries trying to uncover the other person’s lies, so we’re really looking directly at each other.
Do you know what you’re going to be doing next?
KINNAMAN: Well, I have three things coming out that I’ve already finished. I have The Informer, Hanna, and the first season of For All Mankind. And then, we’re still waiting on word for the second season of For All Mankind. That’s as far as I know for sure.
What was it about For All Mankind that drew you to that?
KINNAMAN: It was the world, the writing and the overall vision, which is really incredible.
Hanna is available to stream at Amazon Prime on March 29th.