No network does a better job of creating sophisticated, buzzworthy dramas than AMC. April 3rd, “The Killing,” like AMC’s other hits “The Walking Dead,” “Mad Men,” and “Breaking Bad” is destined to become the show that people need to watch Sunday nights because everybody will be talking about it at the office on Monday. Based on the Danish drama “Forbrydelsen,” the series follows a murder investigation from multiple points of view.
Brent Sexton (“Deadwood“), who plays Stan Larson, the murder victim’s father, shared what sets “The Killing” apart from all of the other crime series, and why it might make overalls the hot new fashion trend.
How would you describe the premise of “The Killing”?
In its pilot episode, a seventeen year-old girl gets murdered and we follow three storylines, the first one being the female detective who is trying to solve the case. There is also a candidate running for mayor and we follow his campaign a little bit and then we also follow the girl’s family. I play her father.
Is Stan as decent as he appears to be initially, or does he have a few dark secrets?
I don’t want to reveal anything that happens in later episodes. So I will say that yes, he is a decent guy. He’s a father. He’s a husband. He’s a business owner. He owns a small trucking company. He’s essentially living the American dream.
What does the death of his daughter do to him?
He and his wife Mitch (Michelle Forbes) got pregnant seventeen years ago. At the time, Stan was living a much different life. The birth of his daughter, it’s what switched his life around. It saved him from the possibility of where his life was heading previously. Of course now that she’s gone, that she’s taken from him, especially in such a brutal way, he’s lost everything, the whole dream. Everything that he was doing, he was doing for his kids, specifically Rose, the first one, who turned his life around. That’s the fun part of the series. Now that she’s gone, what is he going to do about it?
Have you seen the Danish series that “The Killing” is based on? Will this version follow the same story, or was it just a source of inspiration?
It’s definitely more of an inspiration. There’s some big plot points that they both share. We’re doing a very American version of it. There’s quite a few differences. Simply casting alone, you’re going to find what the actors do to be different from the Danish series. I’ve got to tell you Veena Sud, the executive producer, is doing a fantastic job.
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Will the mystery be solved during the first season?
[All I can say is] each episode is essentially one day. So the first season would be the first thirteen days after the crime happened.
Who are some of the key suspects? Is your character one of them?
Everybody at the beginning is a suspect. The cops do a good job of looking at the clues and questioning a lot of different people. There’s quite a few. There’s of course Rosie’s classmates at school. A couple of them come up on the radar.
This show is being compared to “Twin Peaks” and “The Wire.” Is that accurate?
Well, the interesting thing about the “Twin Peaks” thing is is that was almost twenty years ago. It was in 1990 and 1991. Things happen in cycles. The twenty year cycle is definitely a big one to come back around. We’re definitely not, I would say, as quirky as “Twin Peaks” was. But the mystery is there and it’s wonderful and it’s so captivating how it gets you enthralled and at the end of each episode it leave you begging for more. It’s a really, really good show.
So you’re saying there’s not going to be a little person who speaks backward?
No. We don’t have anything like that. We’re going to stay as real as possible in this series. There’s nothing fancy like that at all. We’re dealing with the tragedy, a guy trying to run a mayoral campaign, and a detective trying to do her job. The killing, it’s certainly a metaphor for not just the daughter dying, but the ripple effect that happens when such a heinous crime is perpetrated. It affects a lot of people in a lot of different ways.
You and Michelle Forbes have such natural chemistry. You really seem like a couple who has married for decades. How did you build that?
We’ve both been in the business for a while. We have certain natural [techniques], I guess you could say. It’s all in the script. The writers did such a great job. Everything’s on the paper for us. If it wasn’t, I certainly had an open channel to talk with Veena or anybody else to answer any questions I had. That really helped.
This is a very female driven show. There’s a woman showrunner, a woman directed the pilot, both the victim and the lead detective are women. Do you feel like the lone male in the girl’s club?
On the surface you could say, yeah, there’s a lot of females in positions here, but it’s about the work. I don’t feel like I’m a fish out of water by any means. We’re dealing with some very heavy themes which I think transcend male and female and Veena knows what she’s doing.
I was struck by how real everyone looks, like ordinary people not actors playing roles. Was that the goal?
I certainly hope so. What little influence I had, I tried to convey that. I had a conversation with the costume [designer]. To me, with Stan, I wanted to make his clothes a little faded. He’d gotten a little old, so to speak. The sleeves weren’t as long, they kind of shrunk on all his shirts. The clothes were a little faded, mainly because he didn’t really care about that stuff. He was running a business and raising a family. I wanted to show who he was now as opposed to the guy he was seventeen years ago.
Stan wears some rather stylish overalls in the first episode.
The Carhartts. Yeah.
Did you get to keep them?
When the series is done, I’m going to see if I can get them. Why not? They’re a sturdy item. A lot of people have commented on them.
“Mad Men” has a huge influence on fashion. A lot of men want to look like Don Draper. Do you think “The Killing” could make Carhartts the next fashion trend?
You never know what people will fall into.
The AMC shows have such passionate fanbases. Are you prepared for that level of attention?
I hope and actually think that people will respond terrifically to the show. I think we have done our job to the point where they’ll keep coming back every week.