Based on the 2011 film of the same name, Amazon's Hanna is a spy thriller about a young girl with extraordinary skills who finds herself targeting by the CIA agent responsible for the death of her mother. Esme Creed-Miles stars as the title character, while Joel Kinnaman (Run All Night, Suicide Squad) plays her father, with Mireille Enos (Gangster Squad, World War Z) appearing as the CIA agent whose past catches up with her in the form of this peculiar teenage girl.
Of added interest to TV fans is the casting of Enos and Kinnaman, since they previously starred together in The Killing. The AMC series was the subject of an early power play by Netflix, who uncancelled the show and paid for a fourth and final season to wrap up the cult murder mystery saga.
While promoting the debut of Hanna, Joel and Mireille sat down with Screen Rant to discuss the series, their characters, and how important costumes are to building their characters. They also talk about The Killing and how their dynamic in Hanna is completely different from their last high-profile collaboration.
So, let's just get the obvious out of the way. This is a huge moment for a lot of fans of The Killing. When did you realize that a reunion was going to be a big part of this show?
Joel Kinnaman: It's all Mireilles's making.
Mireille Enos: Yeah. I was in conversation with David Farr about doing the show, so we teamed up and they were obviously looking for an Erik, and David admitted to me that Joel was at the top of the list, and I was thrilled, and so I started my texting game to try to get him into it...
Joel Kinnaman: Well, first she was texting me and like, asking me for suggestions of European actors in their mid-40s. So I was putting together a list of, like, Mads Mikkelson, and then she came around and was like, "actually, they're gonna ask you."
Mireille Enos: I was like, "I don't know if it's right for you, you might totally not want to do it," but I was really thrilled at the prospect and it worked out!
Joel Kinnaman: I think, for both of us, it was really important that, if we were going to do a reunion, which we both wanted, it had to be something that was very different from The Killing. The dynamic was polar opposite, so it was perfect!
I think fans of The Killing, and fans of you two in particular are going to be hyped to see you on opposite sides, and well as knowing that you two text each other!
Mireille Enos: (laughs) We do!
Obviously, Hanna is based on the movie. Were you fans of the movie beforehand? Did you watch it? Did it inform your performances? Did you try to ignore it and do your own thing?
Joel Kinnaman: Mireille has not seen any movies. Like, zero movies. She does not watch anything.
Mireille Enos: Yeah, I live under a rock with my little small children, so I have to get him to tell me the plots of everything.
Joel Kinnaman: Yeah, so I'll tell her who people are and what they've done.
Mireille Enos: So I hadn't seen it, as per usual. But, you know, when I was talking with David Farr, his big change in doing this series is he wanted to shift the tone and ground it and make it more naturalistic.
Joel Kinnaman: It would really depart from that movie that you haven't seen.
Mireille Enos: When I didn't see it... (laughs) Because what we're doing is something else, a different telling of it.
Joel Kinnaman: I really like the film as well... Or...
You like it enough for the both of you.
Joel Kinnaman: It is a really compelling thing when one of the originators of that story, of the original story, feels like he has something left to tell, that there's something left to do there. And I really like the idea of grounding the story and making it more into a natural, less kind of a fairy tale-ish story that the Joe Wright film was. The writing was so good.
Mireille Enos: It's fun to be offered the bad guy, but it's especially fun when you're given someone who's so nuanced and who can elicit empathy. Everyone here, there's no kind of black and white. All of us do terrible things, and then have moments of incredible generosity and seek redemption. That's exciting storytelling.
Mireille, your character is so complex. She has her own family and yet she's also so career-driven and she wears amazing shoes. Were those yours?
Mireille Enos: No, no, they're not mine! We had an incredible wardrobe designer who hand-picked everything. The textures, there's so many different countries and time periods and textures in this, and she just created this amazing world, from the forest to Paris.
When you were working on The Killing, that was AMC. That was kind of the early days of that kind of real frontier cable.
Joel Kinnaman: We're not that old, okay? (laughs)
I didn't say you were! And then the show moved to Netflix for its final season. And now on Amazon, there are no rules. There's such a lack of distinction between film and television. How does that inform your performances when you say, "oh, we don't have to worry about not dropping F-bombs or whatever?"
Joel Kinnaman: I think the audiences and the stories have both evolved. There's so much content out there, audiences have been trained to become more and more sophisticated, so the creators have to keep up with that. I think that is best done in an environment where you don't have to have any restraint in terms of what the ad buyers don't like and so on. You can just really focus on the story and tell that truthfully. I think we're seeing an evolution in all the stories becoming incredibly complex. And audiences are not just accepting, but expecting it to be complicated and nuanced, and that's what they're looking for. It's a really exciting time to be part of film and television and being part of telling these kinds of stories where you're allowed to go into so many different areas.
Mireille Enos: And everything's so cinematic. People aren't really thinking, in terms of tone, "we're making a TV show or we're making a film." It's all film. We screened, in Berlin, the first two episodes in this massive movie theater on a huge screen. And there was nothing missing. It was absolutely cinematic. It's just really exciting that you can do film in long form.
Did you see when he punched a guy into a pit of fire?
Mireille Enos: Yeah.
That was nuts.
Joel Kinnaman: Yes. It's what I do.
So, your character, Joel, at the start, we see him in the forest, and as it moves on, we get more urban in setting. Can you talk a little bit about the beard, the long hair, how that kind of shapes your character? How much does it feel like, as an actor, when you're putting on a costume, you're putting on your acting uniform?
Joel Kinnaman: I mean, it does. It is a really important process. There is a transformation that happens. Especially in costume fittings, they are really sensitive, very important processes for me. When something doesn't happen there, I usually struggle a little bit. Something has to happen. The idea that I have with a character's posture, tension, the different aspects of the body that I've envisioned for the character, the clothes have to fit into that, and it effects how you carry yourself. And when you go into full, like, Geico commercial mode, just like this stone age man, it's even more, then there's this aspect that can actually work against you because everything is itching and you have this fake beard and wig and all that stuff, but you have to find a way to make it feel... I just envisioned that I had a lot of, you know, lice and little things growing inside of my hair. It was all alive.
Right. And on the opposite end of that spectrum, your character is dressed in such a powerful way. She can melt someone by looking at them. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Mireille Enos: There's a fifteen year gap between when we meet her and when we find her again in Paris. I felt that story was super important. The woman that she was. There was lots of conversations about what to do with my hair in that change. I felt, very strongly, that we had to chop it off. Like, when we meet her at the beginning, she has to be a "man." She has to be this visceral animal that she's not... Her power is not connected to any idea of beauty, although I find that look actually very powerful and beautiful, but she's just very masculine, hard lines. And then, as she's evolved, she gets dropped behind a desk in Paris, and she learns how she can find power in softening herself. That animal is still there, but she can use grace to get what she wants instead of just brute force.
More: Hanna TV Review
Hanna debuts March 29 on Amazon Prime.