“All the answers by the time the season ends. You will know — categorically — you will know who killed Rosie Larsen,” insists “The Killing” star Billy Campbell about what fans can expect from the AMC drama this year. Many viewers expressed displeasure over the ending of the first season, which raised more questions than it answered about the murder of a Seattle teen, a backlash Campbell attributes to a “mismanagement of the audience’s expectations.” But rather than be discouraged by the viewer reaction, “I found it kind of comforting,” he admits, “because it meant that people were passionate about the show.”
Campbell plays city councilman Darren Richmond, who is swept up in the murder investigation in the midst of his heated mayoral campaign. The series is adapted from the Danish mystery series “Forbrydelsen,” though the outcome of the American version will not follow the original: “At a certain point the show had to diverge from the Danish template, simply because if we had not then anyone might have done a little research and found out who, for instance, the bad guy was … What that meant was none of us knew who eventually would prove the killer.”
Each episode of “The Killing” represents one day in the investigation, so while a year has gone by for audiences since the murder, less than a month will have passed for the characters by the time the second season concludes. Its deliberate pacing is part of what gives the series a creative edge over other crime shows, according to Campbell, who explains that shows like “CSI” and “Law & Order” lose much of their stories’ texture by compressing an entire case into an hour of television: “In those shows … the people who are also very much the victims of violent crime, being the family and friends of the victim, are given short shrift. It’s really the thing that has always turned me off to crime shows on TV.”
Viewers of “The Killing” have watched the Larsen family cope with their loss as the investigation proceeds. The Larsens, along with the police investigators and Richmond’s election team, form the show’s three primary dramatic arcs, and Campbell admits he wishes he had more opportunities to work with more of his cast mates. “That’s not to say that I’m not intensely happy with my little gang of actors … but the cast is stellar and I deeply desire to work with the other actors, though I don’t get to nearly as much as I would like,” he says, singling out Brent Sexton, Mireille Enos, and Joel Kinnaman among his colleagues.
“The Killing” was nominated for six Emmys last year, and though Campbell has been involved in other projects that have been on the TV Academy’s radar — including the “Tales of the City” series and “Once and Again” — he himself has never been nominated. He’s eligible for Best Drama Supporting Actor this year, but he hasn’t considered what possible episode he might submit to Emmy judges if he’s nominated. He confesses he is a harsh judge of his own work: “I’m not the most un-self-conscious actor and so when I watch myself even if it’s not apparent to anyone else I can remember how self-conscious I was at the moment, and for me it’s noticeable.”
“The Killing” is currently airing on AMC. It ends its second season on June 17.
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