With his broad shoulders and distinctive gap-tooth grin, Taylor Kinney has been an alluring ladies man on Chicago Fire for four seasons and counting. But this endearing ingendude has also been popping up in movies, from the war drama Zero Dark Thirty, to the wacky comedy The Other Woman, and the Bill Murray vehicle Rock The Kasbah. As 2016 begins, Kinney’s stepping into a lead role opposite Game of Thrones‘ Natalie Dormer for the J-horror thriller The Forest.
Showing influences from movies like The Ring and The Grudge, this creepy flick is set in the depths of Japan’s infamous Suicide Forest, where thousands have traveled to end their lives. When her twin sister is last seen wandering into these worrisome woods, Sara (Dormer) goes after her, aided only by an undying faith that her sister is alive, and the help of a mysterious man named Aiden (Kinney). As the ghosts of this haunted place play tricks on Sara’s mind, she begins to wonder if she can trust this handsome stranger. And so too, do we.
When we met with Kinney in New York, Screen Rant discovered what drew him to dip his toe in to horror, the creepy incident that happened on location, as well as what’s coming up on Chicago Fire. And naturally, we asked if he had any plans to follow in the footsteps of his Golden Globe nominated fiancée, Lady Gaga, by signing up for a season of American Horror Story.
The Forest harkens back to kind of Japanese horror that was really popular in the early 2000s. Is that a subgenre that really interests you personally?
Taylor Kinney: I didn’t know too much about it. I know that a character in the film, Michi, he’s a Japanese actor, this is his first English speaking American film. He’s done like 20, 30 films all in Japan. He taught me a lot about it. But it wasn’t like a genre that I was honed in on. But I had an amazing experience and amazing time working on it.
Do you get excited about horror movies in general? Or what appealed to you on this one?
Taylor Kinney: More the script. It was I think more of a psychological thriller and just the idea that to keep people guessing and to keep people thinking and to engage an audience in that aspect, and even after you watch it to have conversation. Hopefully people are talking about it on the car ride home or what have you. But I grew up with Amityville Horror, The Shining, and Friday the 13th, and Halloween, those type of films that used to just [laughs] creep you out. So that was more my experience with the genre.
Have you ever been to the actual forest? I know you guys shot in Serbia.
Taylor Kinney: No. Natalie Dormer, my costar, the lead, she shot, I think, three weeks or a few weeks in Tokyo. And I think she made it out there. So she made it out to the actual site and forest. But like you said, we did Serbia for Japan. I would have liked to, but I didn’t make it out there.
Shooting in Serbia, were there ever any moments on set that felt spooky?
Taylor Kinney: There was a night where we lost all electric. So we were shooting off of some country road in the middle of nowhere. It’s kind of desolate and the lights go out. So you have crew members and people screaming a quarter mile in the forest, in the woods in the middle of nowhere. And that got…Yeah, it got a little creepy.
What’s your favorite horror movie?
Taylor Kinney: Probably The Shining, I guess, if I had to say. I remember as a kid watching it and not really being able to sleep that night. It really freaked me out.
How long before you end up on American Horror Story?
Taylor Kinney: Oh, gosh. I don’t know.
I mean I feel like you have an in, right?
Taylor Kinney: Maybe, yeah. I guess if Chicago Fire lets up anytime soon. I don’t know if it is. Yeah, we’ve been lucky enough to be really busy, so I don’t know.
What do you have coming up on Chicago Fire?
Taylor Kinney: A bunch of crossovers. David Eigenberg plays Herrmann. He just got stabbed. That takes him to Chicago Med. The cops from Chicago PD get on it, so it’s kind of a big crossover event where you have all three shows, all three casts interacting. That should be exciting for the fans.
Yeah, I think so. In this film you play a character that we keep going back and forth on whether we can trust. What was that like for you to create that?
Taylor Kinney: I had a blast. After reading the script I met with Jason Zada, the director, and we talked over…I don’t know, I guess my interpretation of the character and the arc. I said, “This could be interesting. This could be really interesting to play with. We could do this here and we could tone this down here.” That translated to the set, so once we started working together. And again, Natalie was really great to work with. And we had time. TV moves exceptionally quick. And film, you have a little bit more time to play. So, getting to talk with Jason, getting to talk with Natalie, we started going over just both of our stuff, both of our stories and character arcs. So, hats off to Jason, hats off to Natalie. I don’t know that the end product is the same without the two of those people. And I loved it. I had a great time.
The Forest opens in theaters January 8, 2016.