This isn’t a drill, we got a new shoot! Joel’s looking so good (as always) on the cover of the latest issue of GQ Hype. The interview was done through a Zoom call and it’s mostly focused on the upcoming The Suicide Squad. Check out the interview below and outtakes in our gallery!
BRITISH GQ – When Joel Kinnaman answers my Zoom call, he’s walking briskly through the streets of Venice Beach with his dog, Zoe, a rescue mutt from Mexico. He’s wearing a blue baseball cap and a T-shirt adorned with a baby picture of his fiancée, model Kelly Gale, the sleeves of which are just about obscuring a tattoo of the word “Skwad” on his bicep, which was administered on the set of the first Suicide Squad movie by Will Smith with Margot Robbie’s tattoo gun. (He does not regret it. “It’s a good story,” he says.)
He’s telling me about the play that saved his career. The sole reason he’s here today, promoting a different, better Suicide Squad movie – an unorthodox, quasi-sequel, quasi-reboot of the 2016 DC Comics film about a group of supervillains manipulated into fighting the good fight – is because of an obscure one-man show called Howie The Rookie by Irish writer Mark O’Rowe.
In his twenties, three years into a degree at Sweden’s most prestigious drama school, he began to experience debilitating stage fright. He would have panic attacks while on stage and vomit or black out before performances. “I thought maybe I don’t have the constitution to do this, maybe I can’t handle this pressure.” He resolved to overcome his problem through a sort of self-made exposure therapy. He would find the most terrifying stage performance for himself and do it over and over again just to prove to himself that he could. Enter, Howie. It was a gruelling, 90-minute piece, in which he would embody 16 different characters. “Everything hinged on this working and there was something in me that just would not let it fail.” He became obsessed with it and performed it over and over again in front of live audiences, slowly chipping away at his anxiety over time. After that, nothing would ever seem quite so daunting. “It became the foundation of a new kind of confidence that I had, or that I built with that.”
In many ways, that baptism of fire prepared him for much greater stresses he would deal with in his career, from playing the emotionally destroyed lead in a four-hour stage adaptation of Crime And Punishment in Gothenburg (his first proper gig out of acting school) to his first role in America in the beloved drama series The Killing and more recently shouldering the hopes of millions of comic book fanboys. Working on massive blockbusters – The Suicide Squad, he tells me, is the most expensive R-rated movie of all time – comes with its own very particular kind of anxiety. When you’re acutely aware that a shoot day costs £220,000, there’s a truly high-stakes need to perform, knowing that if you fudge your line or miss, you’re letting multiples of most people’s average wage slide down the drain. It can get a little tense. “There are so many moving parts and I don’t want to be the one that sucks.”
The Suicide Squad represents somewhat of a second chance for Kinnaman. Twenty sixteen’s Suicide Squad was considered a creative failure by most of those involved in its making. This time around, Guardians Of The Galaxy mastermind James Gunn takes over for original director David Ayer. Kinnaman reprises his role as military man and Suicide Squad leader Rick Flag, alongside fellow returnees Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn) and Viola Davis. Idris Elba and John Cena are subbed in for Will Smith and Jared Leto as co-leads. Read More