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.

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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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December 05, 2018

Altered Carbon is featured in the Annual 2019 issue of SFX magazine, as one of the TV shows that have made this year one of the most exciting years for sci-fi and fantasy. Check out scans in our gallery!

February 09, 2018

The March 2018 issue of Men’s Health USA is out now! I have added scans of Joel’s feature into the gallery.

Joel is featured in the latest issue of Vanity Fair Italia magazine. Check out scans and outtakes in our gallery!