Outfitted: Joel Kinnaman

2016 might be the greatest year yet for this Swedish star.


Joel Kinnaman is no stranger to life in the limelight. Taking part in a television series at age 10, the Stockholm native gradually became more interested in the industry thanks to influence from friends, family, and some acting school guidance. It was after a shift from Sweden to the States that Kinnaman really began to hit it big. 

“Even though there’s a lot more competition, there’s more opportunities here,” Joel told Maxim. “There’s a much wider range of stories that are getting told. So when the thought kind of crossed me that there was an opportunity to go to the States and give it a try, you realize that many of the best professionals come to work and come to play. I just feel really fortunate to get to play with people here.”

Fresh off a breakout role on AMC’s The Killing, Joel is up for another challenge as he goes head-to-head with fictional President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) on the fourth season of House of Cards. His role as the charming and youthful Republican candidate Will Conway takes charge in the intense political drama as a man unafraid of pissing off POTUS, using the various arts of social media to lay his personal life on the table in order to earn the public’s vote. But despite their tactical campaign approaches, Conway isn’t far off from being just as maniacal as the man in the White House. 

(Photo: Netflix)

“On the surface, I think there’s a lot that separates them,” Kinnaman said of his character and Spacey’s. “Conway just looks like he’s got everything, the whole package: beautiful wife, two kids and a war hero that goes into politics that just seems like an idealist. And then when we get deeper into the season, we find out that they’re actually more similar than we thought in the beginning, and they’re actually two sides of the same coin. They’re both real political predators that are willing to do pretty much anything to get the power they’re after, and that’s pretty cool.”

With the Netflix series well underway (with rave reviews from critics), the 36-year old actor has been busy gearing up for quite possibly the largest film role of his career as DC’s Suicide Squad prepares for a massive opening this August. We’ll see Kinnaman take on the role of military operative Rick Flagg opposite the likes of Margot Robbie and Will Smith, it’s a character he hopes to convey on-screen in the most authentic way possible.

“Flagg is one of these guys who has been in ever different kind of special operations unit there is,” Kinnaman told Maxim. “He’s run with the SEALs, with Delta Force, with everyone. And most of his friends have been killed, and he’s seen a lot of them be killed, and he has a lot of dark experiences in him that he’s got to live with. I got to meet and train with some very high-level tier 1 military operators and my ambition was to do them justice, and I feel like I represented their experiences, and everything they’ve experienced, and how someone would carry themselves having done that. It became about wanting them to identify with what I was doing more than the history of the comic book character. But by doing that, I probably achieved both.”

You can watch Kinnaman take no prisoners when Suicide Squad hits theaters on August 5th

(Photo: Warner Bros/ DC Comics)

Joel also spoke to Maxim about today’s political campaign, a little bit of golfing, and who would win between Frank Underwood and Rick Flagg. 

Who would win in a battle between Frank Underwood and Rick Flagg?
Well, if it was a hand-to-hand battle, I think Frank would be shit out of luck. But if it was a political showdown or some kind of battle of the minds, I think that’d be tough for Rick, because Frank is one devious motherfucker.

What’s something on your bucket list that you’ve yet to do?
I want to try a wing suit. But I don’t want to do it by some mountains or some crazy shit like that, I want to do it by flat land just to get the feeling of how it is. I wanna fly.

Are there comparisons between this season of House of Cards and today’s political campaign?
I think there’s a lot. I think the current presidential campaign sticks out just because it’s stooped so low where candidates are standing on stage implying how big their dick is. The bar is set so low in that respect, and with the campaign that’s on the show, it’s is actually a little bit more respectable, even with the whole aspect of surveillance, and how these engines are being used, and how that meta data that is being gathered is being used to sway the voters and helping the campaigns to target their voters in a more effective way. That overreach is coming into play. 

(Photo: Netflix)

If you ever have any downtime, what do you usually find yourself doing? 
I have a ton of hobbies. I love surfing and kick boxing, and I just started playing golf six months ago – now I’m obsessed with it. 

So what’s next for you?
I’ve got a couple of things that I’m looking at, but I haven’t made up my mind just yet. I’m looking to do something very different. I feel like I’ve done a lot of alpha males in different shapes and forms, so I want to do something different. I really want to switch it up. 

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