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The Killing – How stars Mireille Enos and Billy Campbell got to know the criminal mind

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The Killing -  Billy Campbell and Mireille Enos
Episode 1.03 - Mayoral Candidate Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) and Homocide Detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) © 2011 AMC

In AMC’s new series The Killing, Mireille Enos portrays Sarah Linden, the lead homicide detective investigating the death of a teenager named Rosie Larsen. Billy Campbell plays Darren Richmond, Seattle’s City Council President running for Mayor who may have something to do with the murder.

Based on the hugely popular Danish television series, Forbrydelsen, The Killing uses Seattle’s uniquely ‘Nordic noir’ tone and mood for the show, which focuses on the detectives, the suspects, the victim’s family and the local politicians, in the hope that it will have viewers obsessing over ‘Who Killed Rosie Larsen?’

Can you talk a little about your characters? Are you patterning anything about your performances on anyone?

The Killing - Mireille Enos
Homocide Detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) © 2011 AMC

Mireille Enos: I’m not patterning her after anything I have seen. She kind of jumped right off the page from the first moment I read the pilot script. She’s a deeply intelligent, deeply private woman.

She has an uncanny intuition about this kind of work, which is what keeps her in it, and also makes happiness hard to choose in her life. And we meet Sarah at a moment where she’s trying to decide what the rest of her life will be, whether she will choose this, which is where her gifts lie, or whether she will choose something simpler, but with more joy.

The Killing - Billy Campbell
Mayoral Candidate Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) © 2011 AMC

Billy Campbell: I came in pretty much at the last moment. I really didn’t want to base him on anyone. I did watch all of Forbrudelsen, but I didn’t really want to have anything in mind.

I have not patterned him on anyone that I can think of. And I just feel so blessed to come to work and have the words that I do have to say every day. I just go with the words and see what happens, basically.

This is a very heavy, potentially depressing, subject matter. How do you get into it as an actor knowing that it’s got to be compelling and it can be powerful, but really sad too.

Mireille: We are lucky. The group of actors and writers and everyone, it’s such a positive, wonderful, warm group of people. So we help pull each other up through the day. And it’s so thrilling working on material that is rich, and that gives us permission to actually take our time and talk and listen. It helps sustain us through the things that are really hard about telling a story like this.

There seems to be a little of a mystic haze that forms over Sarah’s eyes sometimes. Is there a spiritual medium thing going on in her head?

Mireille: No, I think it’s intuition. She somehow can see into people’s souls and hearts. She can understand the criminal mind, and she just gets drawn, but it’s not supernatural.

Do you know who did the murder on the Danish series?

Billy: As I understand it, they never told any of the Danish cast about anything, about who might have done it. So they all had to play the whole series without knowing, which I think is really an amazing opportunity.

Why do you think Sarah isn’t happy? Is it the job that does that or was she a person who was like that and drawn to the job? And do you tend to choose happiness, or not?

The Killing -  Mireille Enos
Homocide Detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) © 2011 AMC

Mireille: I have been lucky enough to get to choose happiness again and again in my own life. I think that my own lucky foundation of happiness makes it really interesting to step into he shoes of people who that is harder for.

I think Sarah has always been a person that felt more comfortable with her complex sadness. It’s deeply tangled up in her identity. Sometimes the hardest part of getting well is that you have to let go of how you identity yourself as sad or wounded.

I think she found the perfect career for herself, because she gets to use her pathos to connect with people who are going through the things which are actually much harder than things that she has experienced in her own life.

She can, I guess, not empathize, because she hasn’t lost her own child, but she can deeply sympathize. And that’s part of what makes her so good at what she does.

Is it true you took a year away from acting to be part of a crew on a ship?

The Killing -  Billy Campbell
Mayoral Candidate Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) © 2011 AMC

Billy: I just always wanted to sail on ships when I was a kid, and I went off to do it, in Scandinavia to begin with, I did it there for a few years, and then I hooked up with a Canadian ship. I took a break from a show I was doing at the time. I was very fortunate to be able to take a break to sail around the world for 14 months on this ship. It was fun.

Wasn’t it a mission too, weren’t you delivering medical supplies?

Billy: Yes. It was partly humanitarian. The ship was called the Picton-Castle. It’s from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. It’s a beautiful ship with a bunch of fine people running it and sailing on it. And we do take medical supplies, educational supplies, plus a doctor. But primarily it’s about sail training and about people learning to be at sea, which is mostly what I like to be.

Can you talk about your experience on Big Love?

Mireille Enos: Big Love was big fun to work on. It’s a wonderful group of people, great storytelling, and it’s an actor’s dream to get to play twins. I had a great time.