This weekend, the next AMC original series premieres. “The Killing” is based on a Danish series “Forbrydelsen,” and tells the ongoing story of an investigation of a murdered girl (spoiler for the first episode) involving a politician.
We all pretty much expect any AMC show now to be as great as “Mad Men, “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead.” They already got the exception of “Rubicon” out of the way. I got a chance to speak with “The Killing” writer, producer and show runner Veena Sud in January at the Television Critics Association press tour.
Q: Does any of your “Cold Case” experience apply to the crime aspects of “The Killing?”
Veena Sud: A lot of my research does because I spent a lot of time doing research with homicide detectives in Philadelphia during the run of “Cold Case.” One thing as a writer I found really quickly when I first started writing, I wrote my first screenplay when I was 16 and it was about a friendship of prostitutes, I did a lot of research with vice squad. Real life is much more fascinating than fiction so all of that research that I was able to do during “Cold Case” is definitely fruitful.
Q: Is this fiction more exciting than real life?
VS: It is, yes. This fiction is more exciting.
Q: So how do you do that, to make a story you’re inventing as exciting as real life?
VS: For me, being I get to do it on AMC, is all the moments, all the nuances. When there’s any sort of forced closure to a story, when you’re looking for closure, when you’re looking for that happy moment, when at the end of the hour, you’ve got to be done and out and onto the next thing, or the end of anything, you have to be done and out, it forces you to skip around the nuances of live and the moments of life. Life is meandering. It’s not a straight shot to the end of whatever. So that’s what’s so great to me about this is you can kind of meander in and out, exploring the moments and nothing is necessarily linear.
Q: What are the exciting stories besides the case, the subplots that will keep us hooked week in and week out?
VS: The story of the family, how a family deals with grief, what secrets come out in a marriage that were kept under wraps before, the things you learn about your child that you never knew before, her secrets, the dead girl’s secrets. For the detectives it’s this very seasoned homicide cop who is not choosing at this moment to go for happiness and go for simplicity in her life, but going down into this rabbit hole of this case and a new partner who is not seasoned, who is a former undercover cop being thrown together in this situation and how this dynamic plays out racing to their finish line of trying to solve this case. Then for the politicians, for Billy [Campbell]’s character and for his aides and the people in his world, including his nemesis, the mayor, there’s all sorts of enemies within the camp. So within Darren Richmond’s camp, there’s enemies. Within the mayor’s camp, there’s enemies. All the kind of dynasty of a political world is another truly compelling and intricate part of the story.
Q: How do you feel about the idea that we automatically suspect the politician?
VS: I think that’s the joy of this type of story. You come in with your assumptions about people and those assumptions are quickly stripped away. You think you know one thing about someone and we reverse it and you learn something else about everyone. Everyone’s got a secret. Everyone’s got a past.
Q: Are there some secrets you don’t know yet, that you haven’t decided?
VS: At this point, we have developed the characters so intensely over the last six months that we’ve planted the secrets already. What I did was right before we shot the pilot, I took each actor aside and told him their secret, but I told them they can’t tell anyone else. So each actor knows the secret of their character and the past they’re trying to hide and hopes never comes to light, but they haven’t told anyone else. They haven’t told the other actors in the scenes with them.