Interview: Eric Ladin
Fans of good, hour-long dramas are probably no stranger to seeing Eric Ladin. Having starred in Mad Men as January Jones' brother, the HBO miniseries Generation Kill, and Big Love, Eric has made a name for himself in the TV world all the while also lending his voice talents to some major video games roles such as Left4Dead 2 and inFAMOUS2. We caught up with Eric has he entered the final week of filming the second season of the hit AMC series The Killing where he portrays Jamie Wright, the mastermind behind Councilman Richmondís mayoral campaign. After wrapping up some ADR, we sat down with Eric for some coffee in Vancouverís historic Gastown district and talked about the new season of The Killing, his recent stop at Vancouverís Fan Expo, his plans to take up directing among others.
Let' start on a non-Killing related topic. Last weekend was the Vancouver Fan Expo Convention Ė how was that?
It was fun. Yeah, it was a lot of fun. I had a great time presenting at the awards. Iíve got to go out and buy Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery because they won just about every award. So I figured itís worth trying.
But yeah, it was fun. I always like to meet fans of the video games that Iíve worked on and see what they have to say. So it was cool, it was a lot of fun.
Was there anybody there that you were really excited to meet?
Unfortunately, I didnít really have the time to really spend a lot of time there because I had been working all last week and worked up until the morning. So when I got I home, I slept. I got there, I did the awards show and turned around and spent a little bit of time at the Expo. So I didnít get a lot of time to walk around. There are definitely people I would love to meet around there but I just didnít get the chance to.
Thereís still a cool atmosphere to just go around and see everyone so excited to see all the gizmos and gadgets and stuff.
Yeah, yeah, for sure. And Vancouver obviously needed it because there was a huge turnout. Yeah, a really big turnout; so it was cool.
I know two weeks ago you did the table read for the season finale of season two. Have you just finished filming it?
Weíve got one more week. Iím leaving on Saturday.
Which means youíre almost done filming season two completely. What can you tell us about this season?
This seasonís really good. I mean, for people who are already watching it, I think that theyíre maybe enjoying it more than season one. I think every episode brings a new really integral part of the puzzle and I think people are enjoying that. And then I think it just kind of delves into things that season one just didnít quite get into. I mean, especially with my character Ė with Jamie you learn a lot more about his back story and about where he came from. And what kind of secrets he might have had and so for me, specifically, I really enjoyed that.
Yeah, I did notice that. Iíve only watched the first three episodes of the new season so far and I think youíre on episode five now but especially for the first two episodes of the season, your character did get a lot more screen time. Your character did get a lot more character development. What can you tell us about the evolution of Jamie this season?
Well, like we said, youíre going to find a lot of his back story, where he came from. What makes him the way he is. Why he is such a political animal. Why he cares so much about the campaign. Why he wants to win at all costs. Things like that which, before, I think people, or fans, made inferences and might have come up with their own ideas about why he is the way he is; but now youíre starting to find out a little bit more about the back story.
Youíve said before that Veena Sud, the show runner, would slowly reveal the elements of the character to you instead of just laying it all out at the beginning. How did that affect the way you chose to portray him?
Well, I mean, because she did it the way she did Ė all I could do was build past. I had no idea what was coming in the future other than a couple things that she told me, but for the most part I just had to make sure that my back story was absolutely as clear and specific as I could possibly make it. So that anything that was thrown my way in terms of Jamie, I could approach accordingly just like I do in every day life with myself. This is the first time Iíve ever gone through this kind of process of not knowing my entire character arc but itís been interesting. Itís been fun.
Did you kind of develop the back story yourself or did you have the writers or Veena come in and do it?
Veena and I talked about it and she gave me some very specific things that I needed to put in there but other than that, it was just me personally writing the back story.
The thing about that is that even in just the first three episodes of the season, youíve already started to reveal a bit more of Jamieís character. Even just with the fight with Mayor Adamsí assistant in the gym locker room. What other secrets are in Jamieís past?
Well, none that I can really talk about. There are things that will come out but none that I would want to talk about because I think it might give something away.
One thing Iíve always liked about the character is that heís always been somewhat manipulative and controlling, playing the puppeteer in a way. What I found interesting was when you went undercover in Mayor Adamsí camp to figure out who was the leak in season one Ė as soon you as figured it out, you backed out and went back to the Richman camp. Wouldnít it have made more sense to kind of stay undercover a bit more?
You know, I asked them the same question and we talked about it but I feel like, really, at the end of the day it shows loyalty towards Richman. I donít know how long it wouldíve worked to stay undercover with the Mayor. It wouldíve been an interesting storyline but I think really the point was to find the leak, get it back to Richman and then move on and try to destroy the campaign. Of course, at that point in the in the campaign, we thought that once I got that information we could get the mayor and maybe even blow him out of the water and win the race. Iím not sure we thought it would drag on as long as it as.
So you had the specific goal, find that and then move on.
Exactly Ė exactly.
Now one thing I was wondering for the new season is will Bennet Ahmed be making more appearances? Especially in the first few episodes you spent a lot of time in the hospital where Bennet is as well. Does he ever come back?
Not much, not really. I mean, heís talked about. He does come back but notÖ he comes back in, I think, two episodes.
You guys film it here in Vancouver and I know Vancouver can be somewhat rainy and disgusting outside, especially in January and February. But watching The Killing it makes it seem even more disgusting than it actually is. Was that always the intention to make it just so gloomy?
Yeah, I guess this city and Seattle and the rain are characters in the show. I think that they play a huge part of what this show is about. And the other thing Ė just on a completely technical standpoint, people often times will tell me ďit doesnít rain that hard in Seattle.Ē But what people donít understand, when itís drizzling, it doesnít show up on film. So you have to have it rain very hard for it to actually show up on film. So thereís basically hard or nothing and thatís why we have it rain so hard, so we can actually see it on film.
So do you guys do the fake rain or just hope?
Oh, we have the rainmakers. Thereís no way we could just count on Mother Nature to come through every time we needed her. *laughs*
Yeah, thatís what I was thinking. Like it rains a lot but that could easily screw with continuity.
Yeah Ė we have the rainmakers for sure.
Of course, almost every scene that is outside is in the pouring rain and yet I think Iíve only seen you get caught in the rain like once in it. How did you score that deal?
I have a good agent and I told him I didnít wanna be outside in the rain ever! *laughs* No, it just kind of worked out that way.
Which is lucky for you.
Yeah, good for me.
Especially when youíre wearing a nice suit.
Exactly! I donít want to get my cashmere sweaters rained on.
The entire premise of the season kind of revolves around the idea of ďwho killed Rosie Larson?Ē Which you find out at the end of season two. Now with that it kind of implies that the series is over. You find out who killed Rosie Larson so where does the series go from there?
You know, I donít know. Thatís not really for me to decide. But I think that if you look at the Danish format and the way they did it, they moved onto another crime so maybe thatíll be where they end up going. At the end of season two, I think youíll have a good idea of whatís to come.
The problem I fear is something I kind of call the Prison Break dilemma. Like Prison Break, season one was just so good and it captivated everybody but then they broke out of prison so what do they do?
Right. And I think thatís why the Danish series as found success in a new crime. The same way Damages does. I mean Damages; they find a new antagonist every season. Or look at shows like The Wire, thereís shows that have done it. So I think if they focus on a different crime, I think it will hold its integrity.
Itís not so much a self contained environment. Itís still a big city, there can be other crimes.
With so many hour long crime shows, CSI, Law and Order, and Criminal Minds and all those off shoots - people just kind of expect to find the killer at the end of the one hour episode. At the end of season one, they were upset that they didnít find out who the killer was. Do you think people just kind of expect to get the killer right away?
Yeah, I just think that we live in a time where people want answer and people are impatient. I think that the way the show is marketed led people to believe they would find the killer at the end of season one. But we didnít and I think that thereís more important things about the series besides that.
Do you like the fact that this isnít just only about who killed Rosie Larson that it is much more of a character study? Do you like the fact that the show is set up that way?
I do personally because A) Iím working on it and thatís what you want as an actor. I mean, those are the good roles. And itís a show that even if I wasnít in, I would be a fan of. I like that kind of TV. So for me, itís much more appealing than procedural.
Now weíve talked a bit about the Danish version, Forbrydelsen. I read a while ago that you havenít watched it yet Ė do you have any plans to watch it?
Yeah Iím going to watch it for sure. I would probably actually end up watching it at this point, but I donít have the time. But weíre finishing in a week so Iím sure when I get back to LA and I have time, Iíll give it a watch for sure.
In an interview that you just did with Collider, you said that you were working on some projects that you hoped to direct yourself. Can you tell us anything about that?
Thereís just some little projects that Iíve got, that my friends have thrown my way. Weíre probably going to try and get together this summer and Iím going to get behind the camera for the first time. So nothingís really set in stone yet. I donít want to talk about the specifics but Iím excited to just kind of get behind the camera and start directing and start to cultivate that side of my career.
What draws you to the directing side as opposed to the acting?
Well, I love working with actors. I love telling stories. Itís just something Iíve always been interested in. I directed a lot of theatre when I was in school at USC. I think I like that aspect of the medium. Iíve been talking to a lot of the directors that weíve had on our show and watching what they do and how they work and learn quite a bit. Itís just something that I want to stick my feet in.
You also mentioned that youíre working on both stuff that youíve written and stuff that has been given to you. Which do you prefer working on?
Itís funny because I think that when youíre working on stuff that youíve written, youíre so extremely close to it and youíve spent so much time on it Ė itís good because you know it so well but at the same time itís difficult because itís harder for you to step away from it and look at it from an objective point of view. But, at the same time Ė you know it so well. But I love when somebody else gives you something, you can look at it with an eye that they might not have seen. So probably more working on other peopleís stuff and I would probably like to give my stuff to somebody else for them to work on.
It gives you a chance to dive in and examine it in more detail whereas, like you said, if you know your own stories so well, you will sometimes just skim over them.
Totally. Itís like when you proof read something youíve just written. In your head, you might think you wrote something but it come out completely differently.
Do you think youíll ever self-direct yourself in anything?
I donít know. I directed myself in a play at USC and itís difficult. Itís difficult. I reallyÖ as an actor, I like to completely Ė like all actors do Ė completely lose myself in it. I think if youíre directing yourself, itís really kind of difficult to do that because youíre obviously commenting on your work and youíre having to watch your work. So for me, right now, thatís not something I would tackle; maybe down the line but not right now.
Do you still have plans to keep doing all the voice work for things like Mudcats and InFAMOUS?
Yeah, absolutely. I love doing voice work. Iím working on a couple things right now and if any other video games that come my way that Iím interested in, I would be more than happy to look at it and work on it. I love it. Itís a lot of fun.
Later on this year, youíre also doing a movie called Highland Park which also stars Michelle Forbes who plays Mitch in The Killing. Can you tell us anything about that?
Highland Park is something we actually did a couple years ago and they just finished it and I think theyíre going to try and go on the festival circuit with it. Send it to festivals and see what happens. Itís a neat little story about a group of acquaintances in Highland Park, Detroit who play the lottery every week. Theyíre very desperate. Itís a poor town and they end up winning and itís kind of the story of what happens once theyíve won the lottery and how it changes their lives.
I guess thatís about it, thanks a lot. Do you have any final thoughts youíd like to add?
No. Keep watching The Killing. Season two is great and thatís it. Thank you very much.
For more information on Eric, check out his website: http://www.ericladin.com/ or follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ericladin
Disclaimer:All articles on Shave Magazine are expressly for entertainment and/or educational purposes only. The findings and opinionsof authors expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarilystate or reflect those of Shave Magazine. The information provided in anyspecialty section are only for generalreading. They should not be used for diagnosing or treating a healthproblems, disease or otherwise. No information in Shave Magazine should beused as a substitute for professional care. Shave Magazine assumes noresponsibility for how this material is used. Note that as someinformation changes, it may become out of date.