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Under the Radar: 5 Things to Know About Joel Kinnaman of 'Dragon Tattoo'

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Dec 19, 2011 | 12:05pm EST

ALTNormally, the method behind the madness of Under the Radar is to examine the week’s new theatrical releases and find among the cast listings a young actor or actress whose stock seems to be rapidly climbing. We often use that actor/actress’ back catalogue of films to illustrate their meteoric rise and, depending on your viewing regimen, you may or may not agree with the accuracy of their up-and-coming status. But when one particular star shows up in two huge releases in the span of single week, they are kind of making their own case—or at least preliminary arguments.

Such is the case with this week’s star: Joel Kinnaman. Within a week's span, the actor will be appearing in both The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Darkest Hour. Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about Joel:

Dual Citizenship

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David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which opens on Wednesday, is an adaptation of a novel by Swedish author Stieg Larsson; a previous cinematic incarnation was produced in the novel’s native Sweden in 2009. To call Fincher’s version a remake of the 2009 film would be inaccurate—several differences, mined from the original text, exist between the two versions. Given that he is appearing in an American adaptation of a Swedish novel, it seems altogether fitting that Kinnaman would have dual citizenship between the two countries. Joel’s mother is Swedish while his father is American so the reason for the dual citizenship seems pretty clear.

The Killing

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If you think Mad Men is the only worthwhile show on AMC, you are sorely mistaken. The network has recently given us the intense, powerful, and altogether fascinating crime drama The Killing. Much like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, , The Killing begins with the search for a missing girl. The series is beautifully shot, clever in its skirting of procedural cop show conventions, and fantastically preformed. Joel Kinnaman plays police officer Stephen Holder, one of two investigators heading up the case. Kinnaman performs the part with a certain crassness, an in-your-face bravado that ultimately proves to be a carefully crafted tool in his detective arsenal. The relationship between he and his partner, played by Mireille Enos, is the backbone of the series.

Arthur and Lancelot

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One the case of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is solved and the battle with the energy-devouring aliens of The Darkest Hour is finished, Joel will have a far more epic task before him. Kinnaman is set to star in director David Dobkin’s Arthur and Lancelot. Kinnaman will be portraying Sir Lancelot, the famous knight serving on the court of the legendary King Arthur; the latter to be played by Game of Throne’s Kit Harington. This fantasy adventure will be an interesting departure for Dobkin, as he has up to now only directed comedies such as Wedding Crashers and Fred Claus. However elements of period action adventure did find their way into his Shanghai Knights. I’m sure with the stars of two hugely successful TV shows headlining, both of whom are tremendous actors in their own right, Arthur and Lancelot will excel.

Original Invisible

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In 2007, David S. Goyer directed a supernatural teen thriller called The Invisible. The film told the story of a high school student who is brutally attacked and left for dead. The next day, he discovers that no one can see him; calling into serious question whether he actually survived the attack. You may have missed the film in theaters…and in video stores…and on TV, but the film made a decent amount of bank at the box office. What you may not know is that The Invisible is a remake of a 2002 Swedish film that featured among its cast, you guessed it, Joel Kinnaman.

Safe House

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The very next film on Kinnaman’s slate is Safe House from director Daniel Espinosa. The film centers around a young CIA agent looking after a fugitive at an agency safe house; a place that ends up coming under siege. It certainly seems as if Kinnaman is moving up in the film world. He is going from playing a small part in the latest David Fincher film, no small accomplishment, to costarring in a big-budget sci-fi actioner, to being billed in Safe House just under the likes of Ryan Reynolds, Denzel Washington, Vera Farmiga, and Brendan Gleeson. If the old maxim is true, about being judged by the company one keeps, I’d say Joel is doing pretty well.

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