Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman first came to attention in “Easy Money,” an import from his homeland that mixed action with character-driven drama. That also describes “Run All Night,” a Liam Neeson thriller in which the aging action star tries to protect his estranged son (Kinnaman) from a mafia hit. Those are the kinds of movies the actor — best known to Americans for “The Killing” and last year’s “RoboCop” remake, plus his just announced role in Marvel’s “Suicide Squad” — prefers to make, and to watch.
This is being sold as a Liam Neeson action film, and it is, but it’s also a dark drama about regret and failure.
And redemption and forgiveness. It’s a high-paced action movie, but at the same time it has themes and scenes are quite emotional and really give the characters a foundation. The action scenes are about something, they mean something. Those are the kinds of films I like to watch, and those are the films I like to be a part of.
Even your character, who’s ostensibly a good, innocent family man, has a dark streak.
That was my big input into the script. He was originally written as a clean-cut guy who didn’t have any problems — he just became a victim of the situation and was not proactive. For me it was important that he was deeper. If you’ve been abandoned the way he has by his father, that will leave a trace on your personality. I wanted him to have anger problems of his own, and to be physically capable, so that when the s— goes down he’s still a part of the journey to survive and protect his family.
There’s a moral grayness to all the characters. Even the main villain, played by Ed Harris, is motivated by grief, not mere vindictiveness.
That’s what life is. Nothing is black and white, even though a lot of movies try to portray it that way. That doesn’t ring true to me. Really good people sometimes do bad things, and really bad people sometimes do good things. It’s in the contrast where we understand people. When you meet someone for the first time, you get an idea of what type of person they are and you put them in a category. Then when you get to know that person, they do something that is completely opposite to that. That’s when know who they are. I always try to find characters who have a really broad spectrum of behavior. That’s what comes closer to what life is. If someone asks who you are, it’s an impossible question to answer, because we behave in so many different ways in different situations, depending on who we’re in contact with. Some writers are brave with that. Dostoevsky’s characters are all over the place. That’s what makes it feel like life.