Joel Kinnaman and Génesis Rodríguez play husband and wife in Run All Night which is now playing.
Read what they had to say about working on the film, Liam Neeson and more!
How did you feel when you heard you were perfect to play Liam Neeson’s son?
Joel Kinnaman: That is a hug compliment even though he’s an alcoholic hit man in this. I was really honored to play his son in this film and I’m always drawn to father and son stories. I always get very emotional watching them and every friend that I have, older or younger … everybody’s had a complicated relationship to their father at some point in their life. This was a very interesting one.
Genesis told us on set you guys were listening to some cool hip-hop music. What were you guys listening to to get prepped for shooting?
Joel Kinnaman: Jay Electronica. I remember I played that to Common and he was like, oh s*** I haven’t heard this. I was like, I played song to Common that he hadn’t heard. That made my day.
Is that a ritual just listening to some hip-hop of just any music before you take on a big role or in between scenes?
Joel Kinnaman: Yeah sometimes. I mean I had the biggest premiere of my life was after I got out of acting school. I was in the big play of Crime and Punishment. It was the opening of a new national theater with as much coverage as you can get for a play in Sweden. Very much attention. And I was the center piece, I didn’t leave the stage for three hours and 45 minutes, so it was on me. For some reason I was listening to Bob Marley and … we jammed and it worked out really well.
Can you speak about working with Jaume the director and building this character.
Joel Kinnaman: It was a great collaboration. When I got the script, I thought Brad Ingelsby had written a beautiful script. There was one thing with that I felt could be improved and that was my character. He was written a little bit too clean cut. He had a white wife with his two blonde children. For some reason it’s like a lot of Hollywood stories … when somebody’s innocent they’re white which is farthest from the truth. And that he was much more of a victim of circumstance and he wasn’t proactive in the situation. I wanted you to feel that … this kid that grew up with alcoholic criminal father that created a very unstable home environment, he grew up in this rough neighborhood with everybody knowing he’s Jimmy Conlin’s son and even though he did a very respectable thing to create a different life for himself in the opposite life of his father and create a life for his children that he didn’t get, you still want to feel the residue of that background … I wanted him to be a violent person that has a lot of anger inside and that’s where we came up with that he had a run at being a professional fighter and but then he also had a lot of anger issues that he was trying to keep down. When these unfortunate events start to unfold then we also see how he would react in those situations and being proactive in that.
Did you have to train in boxing?
Joel Kinnaman: I did boxing a little bit. I’ve never done any fights, but sparing. A dear friend of mine, he’s actually on the money team, Mayweather’s team, and he’s actually got a title fight in a month, so he hooked me up with his New York trainer, a guy called Don Saxby so I was over there at Gleason’s and Don was helping me not look a complete fool in those scenes.
Can you speak about shooting in New York?
Joel Kinnaman: Yeah. That’s why I was so happy that we were shooting in New York. There’s a sense of humor and a toughness to New York that is so specific to here, it’s a lot of tough love and that’s why I was really adamant that they weren’t going to be like a white couple. They were from mixed neighborhoods so it was great that she also brought a little Latin attitude to it and it’s not easy raising two kids with not much money and you have fights but you love each other. It’s not a big deal but you’re working hard to make it work. I thought she was phenomenal in the film, really a strong woman … she’s feminine but a very strong woman.
What was the set chemistry like with all of the actors?
Joel Kinnaman: It was a hell of a good time. We had a lot of fun and Liam … he’s a funny guy and as soon as we became friends and started joking with each other we’re messing each other up and tripping each other up before the scenes and I was always worried is his back going to hold for this long stretch, do you need me to support you over this old man. He was like get out of the way lad. He’s going to show me boxing, he’s like hey so you’re boxing now … people haven’t boxed like that since the 20s when you were a kid.
You were a mentor in this film. Do you see yourself doing something like that on your down time and how was it working trying to mentor this kid?
Joel Kinnaman: I actually haven’t done that but it’s definitely something I’d do. I usually get that kind of relationship with younger actors on set. I take my time and especially when I’m working with them because it’s a way to also form a relationship and get them calm and understanding that we’re doing this together and it’s a job and he’s a great kid really smart kid. I really enjoyed that.
You also have another huge project coming up, you’re jumping in the super hero world. Thematically, in character, arch wise how is something like Suicide Squad able to resonate and entertain and still connect with people even though these are such bad individuals?
Joel Kinnaman: Oh it’s going to connect. I love the script. It’s super entertaining and David Ayer is a really interesting director. There’s a lot of flashy directors that are good with the camera, but when you get people from another aspect of film making into a director’s role, you’re always very happy if it’s a writer or an editor because those are the story tellers and David is really a story teller. He has a complete understanding of where you need depth and but still moves the story forward and even though this is a massive super hero production it’s an amazing story. The conversations we’ve had about the characters are really interesting, really gets to the bottom of things. I feel like … sometimes you’re worried if you’re going to do a film like that, okay well it’s just going to be super hero fun, nothing is going to go under the surface. But here I feel like we’re going to get both.
Did you go into comic stores and ask for advice?
Joel Kinnaman: I haven’t done that yet but that’s a good idea, I should do that.
Margo did it. I imagine she had a bit of attention at the comic store.
Joel Kinnaman: Oh I can imagine.
You are reading them right? The comics?
Joel Kinnaman: Yeah I got a whole bunch … there’s so many different versions of Suicide Squad, two different times. They’ve been around for a while. That’s what I’m about to do now to just dig in
There’s a lot of great action sequences in Run All Night and did any particular scene excite you or what was your favorite moment shooting?
Joel Kinnaman: Yeah when I’m doing a film if it’s an action film the action is fun but you always sort of look forward to the big drama scenes, that’s what’s most exciting. But in this there were a couple of action sequences that I really liked. It’s sort of the same thing, the actions sequences where you are telling a story, those are the ones that are the most interesting because I think that’s when my expertise comes into play. If it’s just about jumping down on something, anybody can do that really. It adds to the movie but I don’t feel like I can bring anything special to that other than being brave and jumping.
But if you’re doing a fight scene, anybody that’s been in a fight knows that there is a story in a fight. Like oh that guy’s winning, I got knocked, okay now I’m afraid but I’m going to overcome my fear and chasing him back, is he going to run away, no he’s coming back at me again and like s*** I gotta get out of here. … There’s a lot of stuff that’s going on, psychological play and if you get a director that’s interested in telling that story in a fight then it’s really interesting doing that, it becomes like the scene. The other fun action sequence to do is something that has a longer pace like when … we were running in the back alleys and it was almost this little parkour and you have a longer take so you actually get from this point to that point and you have to find your way to jump over. That stuff is fun. I really enjoy that. Then also when we were jumping out of buildings and we were climbing from one dock to another, that stuff was fun.
Joel Kinnaman: In the middle of April I got a movie called Child 44 it comes out. It’s my third movie with the director Daniel Espinosa. It’s a beautiful film, like a real world class film making and Tom Hardy is the lead, I’m his sociopathic antagonist. It’s a very different role from this one. And Noomi Rapace is in it, Gary Oldman, Vincent Cassel … it’s an incredible cast. That comes out then. Right now I’m shooting a movie up in northern Ontario. It’s a little psychological thriller about a father who has borderline personality disorder and maybe becomes a threat to his children.
Child 44, you’re all Russians in that?
Joel Kinnaman: Yeah. We took Schindler’s List as the template … cause we’re speaking English, we’re speaking fake Russian in English so all the vocabulary is perfect. We’re not like Russian immigrants.
How do you choose your projects these days because I’m sure there’s a lot of scripts coming at you?
Joel Kinnaman: I always try to find the characters that I find the most interesting, that have a long journey, that change a lot during the course of the film, that start in one place and then after the film’s events they have transformed and become another person. That’s always the big challenge and what’s inspiring and that together with I’m always looking to work with good directors. It’s not so fun to make movies with directors that have a limited vision or are just focused on visual aspects of something. You want somebody that has both and then of course hopefully you’ll get good co-stars with that. I try to do as different roles as possible, that’s sort of how I navigate. I think the cultural community that I grew up in, the most revered actors and sort of the highest form of acting is somebody that can be believable in very different kinds of roles. That differs a little bit from how I think many American actors see it. When they hit a jack pot and they connect with the audience, then they want to do that. Then they want to do that in different shapes and forms. If I was ever so lucky to have an audience that was following what I was doing and then my dream would be that … when a new film comes out with me and they’d be wondering like, oh I wonder what he’s going to do with this role.
Tell us about casting.
Genesis: Liam was already attached, Joel was attached and I believe Ed was attached, and those three names were like yes, yes, and yes. I knew I had to be a part of this movie I just didn’t know how to go about it. The director Jaume was in New York so I flew myself out and I invested. I was going to make sure I leave a good impression. As an actor you never know if your chances are real or not, but the only thing that I could control is giving a good audition and leaving a good impression. That’s all I could do. So I didn’t hear back until a month and a half later, or maybe two months. It was like, “Guys, just tell me. Just tell me. Do you want me or not?” But it was a surprise when they called me to tell me I got the job. That was kind of cool too.
Were there auditions with Joel?
Genesis: No auditions with Joel. Just with Jaume. Which was cool because I got enough time with him in the room. I got maybe an hour and a half and we got to talking about the character and I really got to really play around in the room, so it was great.
You had two great grace notes. One is you’re pissed.
Genesis: Well wouldn’t you be, too? My husband, my loving, hardworking, honest husband is on the news and I have no idea why they’re looking for him and why I can’t call the cops and he’s telling me to run. I’m like, hello. I need an explanation. I’m not moving until I get an explanation, but she does. I wouldn’t have.
Going into the film, you see those names Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, were you just ready to grab the guns and start shooting people left and right?
Genesis: For me that would have been ideal. Because I love the running around holding a gun part. This time around it was hard because I was like the victim with two kids and a belly. It was so weird. I wanted to kick some ass. I probably was talking more vulgarities with my belly than any of the guys.
Had you ever played that family dynamic?
It’s different and it’s fun. I’ve never played a mom before, but I wish my first mom experience would have been a more gentle mom and a more chill story, but it was not. It was stress nation. I was thinking every single time in a scene, I was thinking of ten thousand things. Whether the girls didn’t look at the camera, whether the girls had their coats, did they get the bag. I have to say my line. I can’t trip, or I need to pick up that pace because the camera’s coming around and by the time … I was doing the whole movie and they weren’t even rolling yet. They were like Gen, we’re not ready for you yet, so you can relax and I’m like, “Okay. Hold on a second, let me put this down, take off her coat,” and all this stuff. It was stress. Stress.
Can you speak about working with Joel?
Genesis: Joel was awesome. It’s really hard to make an honest marriage the first day you meet the person. I literally met him the first day of work and I was like okay, this my husband and I’m sitting next to him and he walked in with a hoodie and he’s so tall. It’s like, “Oh, he’s tall,” and I’m like, “Oh, how are you today? Good? Good.” He plays his music and it’s hip-hop and it was really good hip-hop and I was like, “My husband’s kind of cool. All right. We can talk. We can talk music,” and we did. We got to talking and we spent a lot of time together with the girls specifically because we really wanted it to feel like a family. I mean iPhone games galore, selfies, Hello Kitty apps, snacks, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That’s what we did all the time.
Have you had that experience with anyone else?
Genesis: Not really. Not really because I’ve never jumped into something like that where you’re a family nucleus. I hope next time I get a little bit more time, but I think Joel and I we really worked hard at it every moment that we got. We pulled it off. I had fun. I had fun, I was just playing with kids.
He’s got a lot of acting chops.
Genesis: He does, doesn’t he? He does. Honest to God, I remember seeing him in … a Swedish movie and it’s so good and I remember telling him that. Then I see him act in the scene and I’m like, “You’re giving me a New York accent, like a real one. Word.” I couldn’t believe it. He was so good at it. He’s just a really good actor.
Have you had to do accents?
Genesis: I just did a Canadian one.
But I couldn’t let you leave without talking about Kevin Smith obviously. Tell me about Yoga Hosers. There’s a lot of interesting people in there including famous daughters.
Genesis: The daughters of they’re great. They’re so great. They have a natural talent about them and it’s really cool that these dads can hang out with their daughters and work with them and see them on their first acting job. You see them both and they’re like, “We made that.” They’re so cute about it and it’s just really nice to be a part of that moment. The girls and the fathers are going to have that moment forever and they asked me to be a part of it.
Where do you figure with them in the plot?
Genesis: Tusk was the introduction to those two characters, so they’re following along their story a year after they find the walrus and stuff like that. My character is not the same character. I play a different P.E. coach. Pissed off, very overly Canadian so basically I’m kind from the sticks and stuff. I really worked … Kevin was like, “I want more. I want more accent. I want it more exaggerated.” I was like, “Kevin, this is so weird. I’m Cuban-Venezuelan from Miami. Is anyone going to believe this?” And he’s like, “If anyone’s going to pull it off it’s you. So just do it.” So I did.
I reprise my role. It’s bigger because I turn into kind of this exotic animal specialist. Kind of like the Richard Dreyfuss character in Jaws kind of a thing. I got back to being Alison for the third one. Justin and Haley play two completely different characters. Justin’s a yoga instructor, a Canadian yoga instructor, really good.
You’re being chased by Common. What was your relationship with Common before that? What did you know about him?
Genesis: Oh my God, I’m obsessed. I never let him know though. I never let him know. I’m such a fan of his music, I’m such a fan of him. He’s such a cool guy. You just want to get it from osmosis hopefully. He was really nice and he said hi to me. I don’t like to say hi to them if they don’t want to be bothered and stuff, because I get intimidated. I’m a huge fan. I just kept my cool. He was like, “Hey, how are you? Good morning. Do you mind if I put some basketball on in the radio?” And I’m like, “Are you kidding me? Put that basketball on. I hope you don’t mind I’m a Heat fan.” And he didn’t mind. He was okay with that. But that’s what we have in common, so there you go. Basketball.
How is to have your name attached to an Oscar winning project Big Hero 6?
Genesis: It’s really cool.
Have they invited you for a sequel or anything yet?
Genesis: There’s rumblings of something else happening. Yesterday I just saw the news that it’s the third most grossing Disney animated feature, so this is huge for them. I doubt that they wouldn’t want to do another one. It was a huge success. But they’re doing Frozen 2, so who knows? Maybe they’ll do something with Big Hero 6.
What do you do with the number? Big Hero 6.2?
Genesis: It’s a comic book, so they have so many. It’s a Marvel franchise that Disney adapted. Just like comic books you can make it a complete different story and the super heroes reunite to attack someone else. It’s a perfect little setup they’ve got there for a sequel if they wanted to.
Can you speak about working with Run All Night director Juame?
Genesis: It’s cool because one we both spoke Spanish. So when he needed something from me or something we needed to get something from the girls acting wise for me to talk to them and stuff it would be in Spanish and I was like okay. I’ve got you and I would talk to them. It would be our little secret code and it’s nice. It’s really nice to talk to someone in your language because you connect in a different way. I think he’s such an amazing director. He’s a visual director. He gives you cool shots, really cool shots at that, but he’s also an actor’s director. He really just wants a raw, real performance and I feel like that’s why his movies are so successful. He’s the best of both worlds for a director.
Being a Miami native how cool was it to embrace the New York culture? This is essentially a New York film from start to finish. You know, New York accents, New York rangers left and right.
Genesis: I love New York. When I first started acting I came out here. I lived right here by the Metropolitan Tower on 56th. I just walked by there yesterday and it was so surreal that I was here almost 13 years ago and it was just a dream back then. Just a dream. I was a girl with dreams and now I’m here promoting movies. Crazy. It’s beautiful. It’s all about preparing yourself and really, really wanting it. I’m a big believer that anything that you want in life you can make it happen, but it sure as sh*t not going to come to you. You’ve got to go and get it.
This movie has a lot of great suspense. I was on the edge of my seat. Can you speak about shooting those scenes with a lot of action?
Genesis: It’s a lot of adrenaline. You need to eat a big breakfast every single time you do one of those things because you’re burning all those calories. By the end of the day you’re exhausted. Every part of your body hurts because you’re really acting from head to toe. Head to toe and you’re exerting so much energy. I love action sequences. They’re my favorite. One because you only have to think about one thing. You’re just like I’m just going to run and I’m going to hide. That’s it, but other than that I really like action movies. There’s something about them that give me a lot of strength and power. Again, I like holding the gun part. I like to shoot around and be the bad ass and next one they’re going to be running away from me.
When you shot the scene where you finally meet Michael’s dad were you like, “Oh, finally?”
Genesis: Finally. My moment.
I’m in a Liam Neeson movie, I finally get to meet Liam Neeson.
Genesis: Yes. It wasn’t awkward at all. I didn’t meet him at the scene, thank God. He was so cool. I was really intimated, my goodness. The first day I saw him I was like oh my gosh, he’s huge. They’re so tall and his voice. I was like oh gosh. I didn’t want to look at him at all. Very few people have caused that in me where I’ve been really intimated and maybe he caught that and he just sat right next to me and started talking to me. Like, “How are you? How was your weekend? What’d you do? Where’d you go eat?” And I was like, “Ummm.” I got so embarrassed, but we talked and he was super nice. Super nice.