Until landing the role of Seattle city councilman Darren Richmond on “The Killing,” Billy Campbell was best known as good-guy Rick Sammler, the 40-year-old divorcee who finds love with Sela Ward on “Once and Again.” But the AMC series about the brutal murder of Rosie Larsen has developed a rabid following — and Campbell, who, up until last week’s premiere episode, was the key suspect in the teenager’s death, is happy to change his image by taking on a role with more layers.
“For years, I had to play good guys so it is really enjoyable to play somebody who is not just black-and-white, or a good guy or a bad guy. That is one of the best things about this job,” says the 52-year-old Charlottesville, VA native.
In this Sunday night’s episode of “The Killing,” Richmond confronts the truth about his situation — he may be paralyzed for life — and he has to deal with the ramifications of the shooting and what it could mean for his political career.
In this one-on-one interview, Campbell shares his thoughts on not understanding why viewers were so upset that the killer has yet to be revealed, Richmond’s wife’s death, and his idea on how a third season could happen since viewers have been reassured that Rosie’s killer will be revealed at the end of season two.
Watch the Season Premiere of “The Killing”:
How surprised were you at the strong fan reaction when they realized they would not learn who Rosie’s killer was at the end of season one?
It was a little surprising, but I don’t exactly understand it. I think the network is probably right on target when they say they mismanaged expectations because there was the logline: Who killed Rosie Larsen? So I can see how people’s expectations were raised, but I don’t quite understand the degree and depth of it. Honestly, I would be surprised if those people, even the most vehemently disappointed by the end, if they don’t tune in.
Do you know who killed Rosie?
No, I actually don’t know. I am getting close to knowing, I think.
Do you think it could tie in to anything to do with your wife’s death?
That is an interesting question. I doubt it.
But Richmond seems so motivated by her death?
He is definitely motivated by it, or maybe you should say he is de-motivated by his wife’s death. He has a tremendous amount of guilt over that and his wife’s death kind of took the wind out of his sails, so to speak.
When we come back, the councilman has been shot, so in a lot of his early scenes, he is laying in a hospital bed. Is that frustrating for you, or do you enjoy it?
It is fantastic. I was just saying that it was a joy. I would be in bed all day long. We block shoot a lot of times, as you know a lot of shows block shoot. They shoot as many scenes as they can on the same set and then move on. So, I would be in bed the whole day. I would shoot five or six scenes. It would come lunch time and they would be, “Okay, break for lunch.” I would be, “Okay, wake me up in 40 minutes and I would go to sleep on the spot.” I would wake up and they were lighting the next scene after lunch and I would go back to work.
So Richmond is in a wheelchair. I don’t know if that is going to be permanent, but might it get him the sympathy vote?
It might; it might not. We don’t know. All I can really say about the second season is: As intense as the first season was, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I was wondering myself, “Can they really pull it off?” I thought the first season was just brilliant — despite what some people might think about the ending. I wondered to myself, “How can they top themselves the second season?” They’ve done it. It is like being in this amazing, twisty, turn-y, juicy novel, except I am inside it.
Have you watched the Danish series it was based on? I heard they are going for a third season, past the reveal of the killer. Do you see that as possible here in the United States?
Absolutely. My feeling is that probably somewhere along the way in this new season a rock will get overturned that leads organically into the mystery of the following season, whatever that would be. I can say this particular murder case will be solved this season.
So when you get your scripts now, do you race to read them cover-to-cover?
Yes. That is one of the joys of this show. It is so well written when I get the script, I make a thing of it. I make a cup of tea, I sit in front of the fire and it is like reading a great novel. This really has been the best gig of my career in every way.
Do you have a favorite scene?
When I got shot was pretty amazing. They are rushing me on a gurney and trying to perform CPR at the same time. That was a lot of fun to do logistically and technically. He is riding on top of me on the gurney. To pick a favorite scene in this show — when you think of how many wonderfully, juicy scenes there are — it is difficult. You could just throw a dart at the first season and it would land on a scene and it would have a good chance of being one.
“The Killing” returns with an all-new episode on Sunday, April 8 at 9/8c on AMC.