Joel Kinnaman Conquers Hollywood
Talented actor transforms himself from gritty TV cop to RoboCop.
September 05, 2012
Joel Kinnaman is living the dream. His performance as the scruffy yet shrewd Detective Stephen Holder on the AMC drama The Killing has put him on a short list of Hollywood’s leading men. And, in a move that will forever cement his status as movie star, he is about to headline the 2013 remake of RoboCop. Looking at the past year, it seems the 32-year-old actor’s rise to fame has been nothing short of meteoric.
But for the native Swede, the path to stardom has been decades in the making. Kinnaman was raised in Stockholm by a Swedish therapist mother and an American father who came to Sweden after deserting the US Army during the Vietnam War. When he was 10, he landed a part on a soap opera, but gave up acting a year later when the show was canceled. Kinnaman was inspired to finally pursue acting as a career when, at 20, his best friend from high school, Gustaf Skarsgård (Stellan’s son, Alexander’s brother) got into theater school.
“[Acting] was the first thing in my life that I felt I was good at,” admits Kinnaman, who was accepted into theater school on his fourth try (this is typical in Scandinavia, where most prestigious art programs accept no more than 10 students annually) and quickly established himself as a working actor. “I felt I’d always been mediocre at everything else. This was something I could do.”
When Kinnaman wants something, he is nothing if not determined. In person, he can come across as a no-nonsense kind of guy, brightening up noticeably when discussing Sweden, where he lives when not in Los Angeles or Vancouver, where The Killing films. But he quickly realized his straightforward demeanor wasn’t working for him at American auditions. “I thought, ‘Oh, this Hollywood thing is going to be easy. I got this!’ But, no, no, no,” he says, laughing. “It was months of constant rejection. The note I was getting for everything was, ‘Very intense.’ Or, ‘For this romantic comedy, we don’t want a psychopath.’”
It’s easy to joke about it now, but the experience almost kept him from auditioning for his current role. “I was dragging my feet,” admits Kinnaman, who by the time he received the script had already returned home to Sweden to promote Easy Money, a film he starred in. “I was sick of all the rejection. But I finally manned up and put myself on tape.”
As Holder, the narc-turned-homicide detective who battles demons from his own substance abuse, Kinnaman’s intensity has finally found its perfect outlet. His slightly misspent teenage years hanging with the wrong crowd and getting into brawls in pre-gentrified Stockholm served as great research for a character far more comfortable on the streets than behind a desk. “That’s the beauty of acting,” he says. “You can really use the negative experiences you’ve had in your life and make them into something positive, creative, and possibly beautiful. As an actor, the most ugly moments of life are the most interesting to explore.”
The challenge he now faces, as he prepares for the RoboCop reboot, is bringing humanity to a movie that is expected to be an action spectacle of massive proportions. Not that Kinnaman is turning his nose up at being an action star. The actor, who now spends most of his days in arduous training, is clearly psyched about what’s ahead. “I’m boxing and weight training, getting licensed to ride a motorcycle, and shooting rifles out in the desert,” he says, with boyish glee. “Life is pretty f---ing awesome.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY JENNIFER ROCHOLL/SESSIONS/RETNA LTD
Movie Romance Gone Real: Edoardo Ponti and Sasha Alexander
The marriage of movie royalty to TNT’s “it” girl has proven a match made in Hollywood heaven.
August 27, 2012
Sasha Alexander and Edoardo Ponti in the Soho House West Hollywood screening room.
Ah, film school romance. It’s a natural, really. You start with the premise of young love, add some romantic lighting, design a breathtaking backdrop, cue the music, and let nature take its course. Add the progeny of one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars, Sophia Loren, to the equation, and the story gets a little more interesting. In the case of Edoardo Ponti (Loren’s youngest son with producer Carlo Ponti) and wife Sasha Alexander, you also have to include a gap of several years, because their love only began with innocent smiles and looks as friends at USC School of Cinematic Arts. Their romance didn’t really ignite until they met up again much later.
“I just remember he always had a great smile,” says Alexander, currently in her third season as Dr. Maura Isles on the TNT crime drama Rizzoli & Isles, the first half of which began airing this summer. “We were friends, but didn’t date in college,” she adds. “We met again a few years later, started dating, and married [within a short time].” Says Ponti, “What’s interesting about Sasha is that she was the opposite of a lot of people [at film school]. She was a director who wanted to be an actress, rather than an actor who wanted to be a director.” Ponti is expected to finish directing his first Italian-language feature by the fall. Reared in Paris and Geneva, he says his parents didn’t push him into the business. “I’ve always been deeply in love with human beings,” he says. “So I was going to be either a doctor or a storyteller. Those two professions deal the deepest with the human condition.”
For her part, Alexander was a regular on the series NCIS before taking on the costarring role as chief medical examiner opposite Angie Harmon in Rizzoli & Isles. “I get a kick out of playing her,” she says. “I get to explore my comedic abilities, and I get to wear fabulous clothes.”
Ponti and Alexander, both 39, worked together as writer/director and star, respectively, on last year’s romantic comedy Coming & Going. Their principal collaboration, however, involves a beautiful young son, Leonardo, 21 months, and daughter Lucia, 6, a recently renovated Westside house, and a marriage in which one covers for the other when it comes to balancing parenting with the demands of show business.
“The secret is serenity and organization,” Ponti says. “People remark when they walk into our home that it’s so peaceful and calm.” Says Alexander, “We can do nothing together; we can hang out, read—just be. We do a lot of that.”
As a family they also swim, dance, and eat the veal meatballs Mama Sophia used to make for Ponti growing up. It’s the kind of blissful existence film school students spend countless hours trying to imagine, except sometimes it actually comes true.
—PHOTOGRAPHY BY MELISSA VALLADARES; STYLING BY ESTEE STANLEY; DRESS, BALENCIAGA; SHOES, JEROME C. ROUSSEAU; RING, ROSEARK
Q&A: Bosilika An Talks The BASH
Although still a teenager, the Beverly Hills-bred teen already helms a charity.
August 15, 2012
At just 18 years old, Bosilika An is CEO and founder of The BASH, and a driving force in her community and abroad. Growing up in Beverly Hills, as part of the renowned An restaurateur family (Crustacean), she was instilled with the importance of melding entrepreneurship and philanthropy.
Through The BASH, an all-teen organization working to support local children’s hospitals via fundraising parties, An has become a recognized leader among her peers. We chatted with the accomplished young woman about her philanthropy, future plans, and making her family proud.
Why was it important for you to start a charity as a teen?
BOSILIKA AN: I think growing up in the height of Gossip Girl mania, and in a [similar] area of so much affluence, sometimes we lose sight of what’s important. Going into the Children’s Hospital [Los Angeles] for the first time and seeing kids fighting for their lives put things in perspective. The BASH was supposed to be a one-off project meant to show my friends an outlet of how they could be themselves and live their LA lifestyles, but at the same time to leverage their connections and resources with philanthropy.
How are you looking to grow The BASH?
BA: The BASH started out with eight girls in 2009 and three years later with have 50 board members from seven different countries. But I’m most excited about the succession process. It was really designed to be teen-driven and I’m excited to see how it’s going to adapt to a new generation of high school kids.
Are you attending college in the fall?
I’m taking a gap year because I’m going to be the first-ever national youth champion for Girl Up, which is a program of the UN foundation. I’ll be speaking on their behalf at 20 different locations.
What do you like to do for fun?
BA: I love to travel. That could be literally traveling or watching a documentary or making dishes from another country.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
BA: I’ve always wanted to be a sustainable resort and island developer, but that’s more of my 20-year time frame. No matter what I do, I want to be an inspiration of empowerment for women in business.
Ashlan Gorse Shares Summer Favorites
E! News correspondent and host of E! News Now on this season's essentials.
June 18, 2012
Sunset at the chic Altitude Pool at the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills.
E! News correspondent and host of E! News Now, Ashlan Gorse, reveals her summer essentials.
What is your favorite pool for a hot summer day?
ASHLAN GORSE: I love the pool at the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills. It always attracts a great crowd.
What’s your poolside beverage of choice?
AG: Water. Who am I kidding? I love a good mojito, glass of Sauvignon Blanc, or Champagne.
Describe your ultimate poolside outfit.
AG: A cute, gold string bikini, semisheer tunic cover-up, little nude wedges, tortoiseshell sunglasses, and gold bangles.
Q&A With: Kathleen Turner
In The Perfect Family, Kathleen Turner tackles a character so different from all she believes in.
May 09, 2012
Kathleen Turner plays Eileen Cleary in The Perfect Family
With a career spanning over three decades, encompassing roles in film, theater, and television, Kathleen Turner is a staple in the entertainment industry. In The Perfect Family, a 2011 Tribeca Film Festival official selection, in select theaters now, Turner plays a devoutly Catholic woman attempting to prove she has the perfect family. Below, the actress discusses her new film, her future plans, and the effect technology has had on the entertainment business.
How did you come about the script for The Perfect Family?
KATHLEEN TURNER: I have a reputation for being quite open to reading scripts that come through the proper channels. The script came to me through [director] Anne Renton. I got kind of hooked on the character, in that here is a woman that I think is a good one, a well-meaning woman. I don’t think she’s intolerant or even judgemental. Yet, she has accepted these rules that are so intolerant. How does she expect to make this work in the real world?
Starting with that, I thought the script wasn’t all there. Then I got Anne on the phone and we went over the script in a lot of detail. I got the rewrite back and they were quite thorough and used everything we talked about. Then I said yes, and they went on to cast it. Suddenly, I had this terrific cast.
Tell us about your character, Eileen Cleary. How did you prepare for the role?
KT: A good script has almost everything you need in it. I did go to mass one day; I went to Mother’s Day mass. And I did read about the doctrines of the church, and its positions on all kinds of things. None of which of course actually affected me personally, [but] it gave me some guidelines for Eileen’s behavior.
You’ve had a long career, and, with the advent of technology, things have changed dramatically in the industry. How do you feel about it all?
KT: I think it’s getting much more exciting now. Because of technology, we can make these quality films with so much less money and less crew. We used to have to hire these huge cameras for hundreds of thousands of dollars, which made filmmaking so inaccessible to so many people.
The studios used to have a real lock on distribution, and it’s still pretty tight, but we’re getting around it. Which means fresh stories, new ideas—I’m, so sick of being told they’re remaking another TV show as a film. Who cares? Not me.
Any upcoming plans you’d like to share?
KT: A play about writer Molly Ivins [Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins]. She’s a political humorist [and] columnist, she died a few years ago. She was a tremendous voice for liberalism. I developed a play in Philadelphia about two years ago. This last January and February I did it at the Geffen Theater in Los Angeles. Now, and this is my dream come true, I’m taking it to the arena stage in Washington D.C. in September and October—before the election. I want her voice, in D.C, before the election. It’s going to be fun.
The Perfect Family opened in select theaters on Friday, May 4
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF VARIANCE FILMS/THE PERFECT FAMILY LLC
Dayo Okeniyi Makes Hollywood's Acquaintance in The Hunger Games
The actor discusses fame, his promising role, and what brought him to this certain success.
March 06, 2012
In The Hunger Games, the futuristic mind-bender slated to hit screens later this month, Dayo Okeniyi plays Thresh, a strong yet silent character fighting for his life. Here, Okeniyi discusses his move to the States and his thoughts on his career–all while exuding a poised sense of humility.
Tell me about your move from Nigeria to the United States. Any bumps in the transition?
DAYO OKENIYI: I don’t remember anything being too surprising. The media, television, movies, and the internet have taken the globe and made it feel much smaller.
The Hunger Games is being called the new Twilight. How do you feel about the comparison?
DO: I certainly understand why the comparison is being drawn. We are a young, ensemble cast, much like Twilight. I would be lying if I said I would not welcome the success of the 'saga,' but The Hunger Games is different, we have no supernatural powers, we are human—very, very human.
What is the greatest misconception about you?
DO: That I don’t know how lucky I am. That I am somehow unaware that what I have already achieved is experienced by a rare few in my profession of choice, and that I think this is just the way it happens for all actors. Believe me, I know I have been given something very special, very precious, and I plan to hold on with both hands and work my craft to make it last. Humility is not an option, it is a responsibility.
Oscar Hopeful Demián Bichir on A Better Life
The second Latin-American ever to be nominated for the best actor Oscar, Bichir discusses his latest role.
February 10, 2012
“As an actor, you want a role that will stretch your range as much as possible,” said Demián Bichir of his Oscar-nominated turn as the beleaguered immigrant gardener Carlos Galindo in A Better Life. A celebrated Mexican star, Bichir’s emotional portrayal of Galindo, an undocumented worker struggling to provide for his son in East Los Angeles, has him pitted against the likes of George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Gary Oldman, and Brad Pitt for the best actor in a leading role award.
What attracted you to this role?
DB: Being an Angeleno myself, I know exactly what the script is about. I found a Hollywood story without the Hollywood gimmicks—and so rich in emotion, and a physical challenge as well.
Do you think the film inspires people to think differently about illegal immigration?
DB: You cannot think about Carlos Galindo’s story without thinking about the need for immigration reform for 11 million human beings. You know what I’ve gotten from friends? ‘I didn’t know my status towards immigration could change in two hours.’
You’ve been called the George Clooney of Mexico. How does it now feel to be nominated alongside Clooney?
DB: I’ve read that but I don’t even know who began saying that! I see it as a huge compliment, but I think I may be closer to Homer Simpson. I never thought I’d even be in the same category as George.
Few Latino actors are nominated for Academy Awards. How does it feel to be one of them?
DB: It’s a handful but it should be bigger. It makes me even more grateful to be part of it. I’m the second Mexican actor to be nominated for a leading role, and the other guy is Anthony Quinn. How crazy is that?
What do you like to do when you’re not busy with a film project?
DB: I’m a pretty mellow and quiet person. In my free time I exercise, go see a movie, read a good book, and I love the opera. I try to take it easy.
Questions With: Revenge Star James Tupper
Tupper discusses the hit show and how he landed the role of David Clarke.
February 10, 2012
According to creator Mike Kelly, ABC’s Revenge is a show about a universal emotion that “is as old as humanity—dark, dramatic, and endless.” And, if that’s not enough to endear you, the show is set in the Hamptons and stars the very sexy James Tupper.
Did you expect Revenge to be such a hit?
JAMES TUPPER: The pilot had already been produced with another actor in the role of David Clarke. Something came up that made it impossible for him to continue with the project so I was given the opportunity to take a look. I loved it. It was smart, daring, and it had all the ingredients for good television.
David embodies “revenge.” Are there any similarities between yourself and your character?
JT: I want to be very careful in my answer, as I don’t want anyone to construe that I am some kind of psychopath. But, David lost the love of his life and whether we admit it or not, revenge is a very human response. We can place judgment on it or we can simply admit that, for many, when we are hurt, we secretly want to hurt back. I can understand David’s desire for revenge.
What’s your reaction to being called one of TVs sexiest stars?
JT: I am not 25 anymore, not even close. So if people still consider me ‘sexy,’ well, I would be a fool not to embrace it.
Is it true that you lived on a coffee farm in Africa and learned to speak Swahili?
JT: It is true. I lived with a family in East Africa. I was 19 and I guess I felt I had to walk all over creation only to find that people are people wherever you go. I also fell in love with soccer, but the team wore horrible shorts that left nothing to the imagination.
What is the greatest misconception about you?
JT: Well not to harp on the ‘sexy thing,’ but I am often cast as a leading man. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it and I am grateful, but, to be honest, I really feel like a character actor.
Read more from Joshua Estrin at popmuncher.com.
Getting to Know Linda Cardellini
Tackling a unique character in her upcoming movie, Return, Linda Cardellini opens up about life after ER.
February 06, 2012
Linda Cardellini and John Slattery in Return
Set to star in her first feature lead role in this month’s Return, Linda Cardellini discusses the timeliness of the movie, working with costars Michael Shannon and John Slattery, and what's still in store for her.
LOS ANGELES CONFIDENTIAL: What made you decide to take on Return and play such an complex character?
LINDA CARDELLINI: After ER, I slowed down and decided that I would wait until I found something I was really moved by to work on next. I was in New York when I got the script for Liza [Johnson, director]’s movie, and I just thought, “Wow! What an amazing role for a woman!” and for anybody, for that matter. There have been stories about people returning from war throughout movie history, but the way she spoke about the intricacies of this woman coming back and the slow unraveling of her life, and the small details that told the story, rather than a huge catastrophic event that told the story – I just found that would be so interesting and delicate to play .
LAC: How did you prepare for the role? How was the experience of playing a woman coming back from war?
LC: It was very enlightening. I think so many of us hear about the war every day, and know of people who have been over there. But I don’t think that we know quite enough about it as citizens. To me, it was a great responsibility to try to learn as much as I could. I tried to speak to as many women as I could, but I also spoke to men. I really liked how Liza wrote it. Because, even though it is told by a woman, I think that there are certain things that are common thread for any soldier who might have gone over there.
LAC: How was working with Michael Shannon and John Slattery?
LC: They’re fantastic. They are both really funny and warm, and incredible actors. It was so great for me, because I spent so much time on screen alone. It was so great when they showed up because they completely changed the energy and [lent] so much support to my character and so much more life and texture to what she was going through.
LAC: Any future plans you’d like to discuss?
LC: I’m due to produce a child any day now! I’ve [also] been working on writing and have something in development, and, if that happens, it’ll be something I might be interested in starring in, writing, and producing. I’m spreading my wings a little bit.
Return opens in Los Angeles on February 10th.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF RETURN-FILM.COM
The Tom Werner and Russell Goldsmith Show
Former Harvard roommates, Werner and Goldsmith remain as close as ever, bonding over banking and baseball.
December 01, 2011
Tom Werner and Russell Goldsmith in Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox
|Goldsmith and Werner during their Harvard days|
When they met as roommates in their sophomore year at Harvard College, Russell Goldsmith, who hailed from Los Angeles, had the sheen of Hollywood on him and the friendly Tom Werner was looking to make the acquaintance of a particularly pretty classmate. “I was new to Harvard and Tom was very welcoming,” says Goldsmith. “Little did I realize he had an ulterior motive—he wanted to meet this girl I knew, Wendy.” But Werner insists he wasn’t drawn to Goldsmith only because of a girl. “Russell had that sort of Hollywood stardom to him,” he says.
Although things didn’t pan out with Wendy, Werner, now an LA-based television producer and comanaging partner and chairman of the Boston Red Sox, and LA resident Goldsmith—CEO and chairman of California’s City National Bank—have been friends for more than four decades. At their college dorm, Dunster House, they ran a drama-review publication together, and later, in 1971, the two traveled to Israel to film a documentary about the country. “We were both interested in changing the world, of moving [it] forward an inch,” says Werner. “The documentary came from that spirit. Russell was the producer, and I was the director. Russell did some very good interviews, and for each one, he changed into a different color Lacoste shirt.”
That film project turned out to be a harbinger of sorts. Since graduating in 1971, the men’s lives have remained intertwined. Goldsmith was Werner’s personal lawyer during his years as an ABC executive and for Werner’s production company, Carsey-Werner Television. When Goldsmith was the CEO of Republic Pictures, Werner was on the board of directors. They were even co-owners of the San Diego Padres (which they ultimately sold in 1994).
Maybe their success as a team has something to do with how much they admire each other. “Tom and his [former] partner, Marcy Carsey, were working in a small office over a 7-Eleven when they created The Cosby Show and captured the attention of America. He continues to be a creative force in American culture and sports, and he does it with integrity,” says Goldsmith. “If it weren’t for Tom, I never would have owned a baseball team... Even his golf game is admirable.”
Werner speaks just as highly of Goldsmith, praising his kindness, his intelligence, and—of course—his golf game. “He’s not only been our banker and a helpful counselor, but he’s also someone I’ve always turned to for wisdom and advice,” says Werner. “We played golf [not too long ago], and Russell hit every single fairway.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY MELISSA MAHONEY
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.