December 03, 2020

Joel is Sharp magazine’s final cover star of 2020! The Zoom interview delves a little into the characters that Joel has portrayed over the years. Check it out below, and outtakes in our gallery!

When Joel Kinnaman joins our Zoom call, I’m surprised to see a cloudless sky and shimmering ocean. He tells me that he and his best friend have recently decamped to Chicama, a small coastal town in northwestern Peru, for a holiday after wrapping production of the second season of his Apple TV+ show For All Mankind, which airs in January. “I’m in some kind of surfing paradise, and at the same time being consumed by the election and following that, biting my nails off,” he says, flipping the camera to show me the breathtaking view of the world’s longest wave.

This election represents a pivotal moment in American history. The agonizing process of counting votes in the days leading up to Biden’s win let our imaginations run wild about what the future holds. What does the future of democracy in America look like? How will this election shape the course of history? (Much to Kinnaman’s relief, two days after we speak, Joe Biden is voted president-elect and Kamala Harris, the first Black woman vice president–elect.)

These kinds of “what if” projections about the future are at the core of For All Mankind. The show presents an alternate history of the space race in which the Soviets beat the Americans to the moon. Kinnaman stars as Ed Baldwin, one of NASA’s top astronauts, who led the failed lunar mission, demoralizing NASA but inspiring the Americans to catch up, training women and women of colour — marginalized groups excluded from space exploration at the time — in the process. “The actual space race was kind of a depressing story,” says the Swedish–American actor. “It was like, we went to the moon and that was amazing, and then everyone was hoping and felt we were headed to outer space to continue human exploration, but then it just got dismantled.”

Kinnaman was drawn to the show’s intelligent writing and powerful storytelling. Each season jumps ahead in time, depicting the lasting political and cultural impact of life-changing events. “I thought it was just such a smart way of both telling that story, of leading up to that story, and then where we wanted it to go,” he adds. “It’s a way of telling a historic story with complete creative freedom for where it goes.”

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Joel and the cast of For All Mankind visited the Build Series studios to talk about the show, which premieres this Friday on AppleTV+! Check out the interview below, and some photos in our gallery.

Joel did an interview with Marc Malkin on Variety’s Big Ticket podcast and talked about For All Mankind, the Suicide Squad sequel, and his long-time friend Robert Pattinson being the new Batman!

Joel is in one of the covers for next month’s issue of Esquire España. Check out scans and outtakes in our gallery!

MEN’S JOURNAL – In person, Kinnaman actually has plenty to say—at least when not demolishing crawfish. He’s an engaging and funny storyteller, though it helps, obviously, that he’s got a good story to tell. There are many paths to stardom, but not many as picaresque as Kinnaman’s.

We begin before his birth, at a wedding in Laos while the Vietnam War slogs on nearby. Steve Kinnaman, Joel’s father, is an American GI stationed in Bangkok. He has snuck away on a three-day pass to witness the marriage of a friend to a woman who is half-Laotian, half-Vietnamese. It is his first contact with the people his government has been fighting, and the love-filled ceremony confirms some of the niggling doubts he has already been starting to feel about the war. When he returns to base, to the news that his unit is about to be deployed, he decides to go in a different direction. Steve burns his passport, hitchhikes north, and lives on the run in Laos for five years, centered at the Blind Eye, a Vientiane bar that plays host to a Casablanca-like cast of hippies, journalists, drug dealers, CIA agents, and other assorted expats.

It would all make an incredible movie, and in fact Kinnaman and his father, now 74, have been discussing making one. “I’ve been toying with the idea of playing my father,” Kinnaman says. “But I’m getting a little too old, so I might just direct. It’s really a young man’s story.” The tale is still emotionally fraught in the family, too. Steve neglected to tell his family back home where he had gone until two years after eventually fleeing to Sweden, which offered asylum to deserters from the war. The wound lingers still—which is another motivation for maybe making a film, Kinnaman says.

“I see it as a sort of reconciliation project, too,” he says. “Even though I don’t live there”—he moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago—“everything I do is to create a base of both economic security for my family and also arenas where they can all come together.”

Each of Kinnaman’s arms is covered with elaborate set-piece tattoos. On the left is a chiaroscuro of women’s faces, flowers, and vines. It is, he explains, a cover-up of an older piece of ink. “I walked into a parlor in the 1990s and literally thought this exact sentence: ‘Obviously I’m getting a tribal tattoo because they are definitely never going out of style,’” he says, wryly.

A similar spirit of jovial self-mockery is evident on his other biceps, where the last line from The Tempest, written in Swedish, has been crossed out and replaced. “It was supposed to say sleep but it said dream,” he shrugs. Beneath the corrected quote is a stylized tableau of Sodermalm, the Stockholm neighborhood where Steve Kinnaman ended up after decamping to Sweden and where the younger Kinnaman was raised. Now one of the city’s most gentrified districts, it was, in those days, a working class neighborhood and bohemian stronghold. Family life there was complicated and colorful. Kinnaman sat in the middle of five sisters from various mothers, often moving around from house to house. “My family’s a mess,” he says. “But it’s a beautiful mess.”

He describes it as a happy childhood, but nevertheless, from an early age, he was attracted to more dangerous company. By 10, he was hanging out with a rough group of friends, robbing people, stealing cars, dealing low-level drugs, and engaging in the ritualized group violence of soccer hooliganism, in which bands of supporters of opposing teams would meet in hand-to hand combat on the streets. “It was an incredible, powerful group dynamic,” he says. “Being in a group and just rushing toward another group.”

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Joel has graced the cover of this month’s issue of L’Uomo Vogue magazine. Check out the beautiful outtakes in our gallery!

On his political views: “I used to have a much clearer idea of where I stood on the political spectrum, but now I’m much more fluid. I’ve become much more of a centrist in many ways. I grew up in Sweden in a very strong state where there’s much more opportunity for people who come from the lower classes to do a class migration, and of course I see the structure of a Swedish society with higher taxes, free education, free healthcare and those things of course play into that but at the same time I look at the entrepreneurial spirit of the US and see real value in that too. In any society where you can look in someone’s mouth and see if they’re rich or poor, the society has failed them.”

On his go-to designers: “For red carpet, I like Dior, Ferragamo, Valentino, Brioni. For more casualwear I like ACNE, APC and Common Projects. I’m involved with a Swedish watch brand called Carl Edmond that I love. Watches are something I’ll splurge on as they feel timeless and are a solid investment piece.”

On his earliest memory of engaging in fashion: “Probably sneakers. I’ve always loved a great pair of sneakers and as boys running around on the playground and comparing your stuff. That was always a big topic of conversation.”

Just Jared