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Joel Kinnaman would rather have Berlusconi than Trump

The "House of Cards" actor waxes poetic on Trump, politics, and "Suicide Squad."
Joel Kinnaman House of Cards Interview
Joel Kinnaman as Frank Underwood’s young, hot, Republican rival, Will Conway. Photo: David Giesbrecht / Netflix

If you haven’t binged House Of Cards’ fifth season yet, what are you even doing? The show came back with a vengeance this year — and its usual brand of ruthless politics suddenly hit very close to home. One of the only mostly-good guys around was Frank Underwood’s young, hot, Republican rival, Will Conway. "I'm drawn to interesting characters," says actor Joel Kinnaman, who plays Will. "I want to have a character that has a journey, that really evolves."

We sat down with the very charming Swede to find out what the man behind the failed candidate really thinks.

What was it like doing a show about politics in 2017? 
It was crazy! It’s crazy what’s been going on. I never thought that reality was going to come close to what we’re doing on “House of Cards,” and it sure as hell did.

Did you talk about it with your co-stars on set?
It’s been a constant source of indignation and conversation. I think there’s a lot of people who feel that we’re in the middle of a complete crisis — our national identity is being hijacked. It’s very saddening to see what’s going on, that America’s standing in the world is getting weakened, and that we’re losing the leadership role when it comes to the environment and to human rights.

And to think that anyone was going to rival President Underwood’s (Kevin Spacey) unlikeability, and the level of distrust from the public would rise to this kind of level, I didn’t think was going to be possible. I was saying before the election, that if Trump gets elected, we’re all going to know what it was like to be the Italians under Berlusconi. I think I would rather have Berlusconi than President Trump.

Would you compare Trump to Underwood?
I would take Underwood any day of the week! President Underwood isn’t going start a nuclear war because someone tweeted at him in the wrong way.

Now that TV’s in this golden age do you look more to TV, or is film more your goal?
There’s still something really magical with doing a film — every scene is such an important piece of the character’s journey, and almost every scene is moving the character forward. And in TV, you really get time to go deep, and to have that slow evolution, and you have much more time to play as well, so you get into the character even more. But I really like doing both, I really like to mix it up. 

Is it true that you’re filming Suicide Squad 2 soon?
No, I don’t know when that’s coming out — the only thing I know is that they’re working on a script.

How do you think Wonder Woman would fare against the Suicide Squad?
[Laughs] Well we’d definitely give her a run for her money. I just saw it, I loved it. It’s so good. I was actually really moved thinking about all those little girls going to the movies and seeing this film, and to think of how it’s going to change the way that they see themselves in the world.  And I’m so happy for my girl Patty Jenkins — Patty directed the pilot of “The Killing,” and also the final episode of the second season, so I was so happy to see that she did such a good film.

Do you have any regrets about your squad tattoo?
[Laughs] No regrets.