In this interview, Veena Sud, the Executive Producer of AMC’s The Killing, talks about developing the storyline for Season 3 and her fascination with cops and serial killers.
Q: How did you decide on the storyline for The Killing Season 3?
A: I had been fascinated by the photography of Mary Ellen Mark pretty much all my life. She’s photographed so-called circus freaks, homeless families, and people on the fringe, and she did a very famous book of photographs called Streetwise, about a bunch of street kids in Seattle, in the late ’70s or early ’80s. When I did research for the pilot, for example, I was really struck by how many runaway teens were very visible in the downtown area of Seattle, so this season the opportunity felt perfect to focus on that world. And I was also very fascinated…in the Green River Killing, and the serial killer Gary Ridgway, who was the most prolific serial killer in America. I knew that at some point, when we told the story of The Killing, that these would be part of the story myself and the writers wanted to tell.
Q: Season 3 delves into the lives of death row inmates. What drew you to that world?
A: Around the time that I was doing research for a potential Season 3, I watched this documentary called Into the Abyss, by Werner Herzog. I was incredibly taken by his portrayal of two young boys who murdered three people. Instead of just telling the story of a murder, The Killing always tries to look at the bigger picture, and this season I was really interested in prisons and the world of death row as its own political system. I was just really fascinated with the idea of a man who’s only got 30 days left to live, who’s not a Green Mile-type of convict with a heart of gold, but a real bad guy who’s done bad things all his life and whether that man can find redemption as his death comes closer.
Q: How do you explain the fascination with serial killers?
A: That’s a good question. I think serial killers may represent the darkest capacities of our nature. They’re not monsters or werewolves, they’re us. But they have the ability to do terrible things over and over and over again. And I think therein lies our fear of but also our fascination with them; that someone who looks like us is capable of doing things that most of us can’t imagine. I’ve always been fascinated by cops and detectives like Linden and Holder and the ability they have to walk through a horrible place and find some sort of redemption and light on the other side.
Q: What did you enjoy most about brainstorming new characters for Season 3?
A: It’s a matter simply of going out into the real world and doing the research. This season myself and the writers spent time watching documentaries and talking to people in those worlds. Real life is so much stranger than fiction. The character of Bullet, who’s played brilliantly by Bex Taylor-Klaus, was loosely based on a girl in the documentary Streetwise. She was this brutish, tough, baller kind of girl who would just throw down with anybody and everybody, the self-appointed guardian of young girls on the street, running around in her baseball jerseys and baseball caps, with this deep boyish voice. She was so fascinating to us.
VIDEO: A Look at Season 3: Inside The Killing
Q: Talk about Peter Sarsgaard’s character, Ray Seward. How much has Peter influenced the role?
A: Peter was such a partner in creating that character. He came in with really great ideas. We talked a lot about the idea of a man who is the biggest badass on death row, but isn’t your classic neo-Nazi guy with tattoos and a bald head. A man who you would think is a normal man, but when he looks at you, you realize you’re looking into the face of darkness. There is something that is so brilliantly internal about Peter. He takes all these characteristics of extreme violence and he sucks it deep within him, and it becomes more terrifying because of it. He’s like this serpent who will kill you, quietly.
Q: How do you balance staying true to characters with letting the show evolve?
A: That’s the wonderful thing I’ve found as a TV writer: You get to live with these people for a really long time. Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder are characters that we get to spend time with; we get to sit in cars with them, and drink coffee with them, and B.S. with them. You get some time to see all their different colors and all the great things they’re capable of — and all the terrible things they’re capable of. But staying true to those characters means allowing them to grow.Read More