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‘The Killing’: Rosie Larson’s killer speaks

AMC’s"The Killing” ended its second season Sunday night by finally revealing the full circumstances of Rosie Larson’s murder. For those who don’t wish to know, stop reading now. This has been your obligatory spoiler warning.

As in life, the circumstances of her murder were more complicated than anyone could have predicted. In the end it was revealed that Darren Richmond campaign manager Jamie Wright (played by Eric Ladin) was the one to savagely beat Rosie and put her in the trunk of the campaign car. But it was Rosie’s Aunt Terry (played by Jamie Anne Allman) who drove the car into the lake, unwittingly killing her own niece.

Ladin called from a family vacation in Mexico to discuss his character’s confession (and untimely demise).

When did you find out you were the killer?

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I found out with about six weeks left of shooting. [Producer] Veena Sud called me and told me what the situation was so that I could prepare with it and sit on it for a little while. Probably for the last three or four episodes of shooting is when I knew.

How did she break the news to you?

She called me and said, “Listen, the scripts are going to come out, and so you’re going to get some information I’m not sure you know about.” We talked about it. I think she wanted to be the one to tell me before I read the final few scripts. That way when I read them I was going in with a different feeling. I was excited about the opportunitiy of what I was going to get to do in the finale and the arc I was going to take.

The final revelation casts your previous behavior in a different light. Did you go back and review your actions throughout the series?

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I give a lot of credit to the writers. They did a great job of putting things in and adding to the story line and the back story to facilitate me with what I needed. I went back and reviewed things. I think if I’d known at the very beginning, I would have done some things different. That’s probably what they were nervous about. They didn’t tell me or Jamie Anne Allman for that reason. They didn’t want it to influence our performances. I think at the root of it all is my relentlessness to the campaign and my need for admiration from Darren. That was something I’d talked to Veena and the other writers about from the very beginning. I was putting that into the performance whether or not I did [the murder]. Here’s a kid who was very smart. He was abused as a child, I guess you could say. Physically and emotionally from his grandfather. He never got the respect he felt he deserved from him. And he found Darren, this perfect-faced guy who he felt he could manipulate, and he knew he could take him all the way [in politics]. And Darren was always going to be too naïve to pull the right strings and be friends with the right people. But that’s something Jamie was willing to do to garner respect from Darren. He was extremly good at what he did. It was important for him to not lose the campaign. For the same reason Carville blew up. A young James Carville came in and ran a statewide campaign and he was amazing, and the next thing you know he’s running Bill Clinton’s campaign. That’s something I modeled him after.

You watched “The War Room” when you got cast?

I did. I love “The War Room.” It’s a great documentary. I also read a book called “How to Rig an Election,” by a former advisor named Allen Raymond, who shows you the shadows of politics.

Did you have your own suspects?

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I did. We went through the season, and we all had a really good time trying to figure out what happened. I had a feeling that I had something to do with it, but I didn’t know exactly where I was going to fall in the grand scheme of things. I never did think it was going to be one person with the smoking gun. Veena wasn’t going to have it be very clean. For the same reason Season 1 ended how it did and caused all the controversy. I felt like it would have been wrapped up in too neat of a bow to have one person be the killer. I think that’s why she did it the way she did. The first act of the finale, when I’m talking to Darren, is the whole theme of the series. Things are messy. Things are not what they seem. For the people who aren’t satisfied with this ending, this is the way crime happens. People die every day in ways that are unexplainable or messy or not just one person with a gun.

How detailed did you get with other cast members? Did you map out the whole conspiracy?

Oh, sure. Billy Campbell and I spent a lot of time hanging out off-set. Kristin as well, who plays Gwen. We would always go out to dinner or if we went snowboarding, especially near the end, we were piecing together everything that had happened over the last two seasons and analyizing every little story point and every little script act, trying to figure out how it could have happened and why it could have happened. It was fun. There was a big box on set for the last four weeks. Everybody on the crew had to put in a ballot on who they thought did it.

Was there a tally?

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There was. I was overwhelmingly amongst the crew the No. 1 suspect. But nobody got it exactly right.

People on your IMDB page last May thought you were the killer too.

I think during Season 1 what you saw in Jamie was someone who was relentless and wanted to win at all costs. You didn’t see anything personal in his relationship with Darren. I think that they did a good job with that in Season 2. You realized how much Jamie needed respect from Darren and yearned for respect. When everyone left him in the hospital, he was there. That has nothing to do with winning a campaign. It has to do with someone who has never had that person in his life and stayed there for him. You finally saw parts of Jamie that were sympathetic and honest. Really and truly I don’t think Jamie is a bad person. He went to the casino that day to try and fix a problem, and one thing led to another, and Rosie was in there and she heard the conversation and he tried to get her to be quiet. She fell and hit her head, and the next thing you know you’re trying to clean up a mess and have an out-of-body experience, and you’re chasing her through the woods and you need her to be quiet. It snowballs. It shows you how you don’t always kill someone with the intent to kill. Sometimes it’s just an accident.

What was the discussion before you shot the confession scene?

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I spent a lot of time with Patty Jenkins, who directed the episode. We talked a lot about that scene and how it was going to be laid out. Of course, things get edited all the time. There was stuff in the scene that got taken out. In all honesty, it would have been my preference to leave more stuff in there to see the full arc — to see why I did what I did. But with Jamie, he goes into the office with the intention to tell Darren that he won the race. When Darren continues to press him and prod him and says, “Why did you lie to me?” Jamie has always had a retort. It’s been something he’s good at, thinking on his feet. When Darren, the person closest to him, whose respect he needs and yearns for, continues to prod him, he finally lets it out. It was an accident. This is something he’s never talked about. He has an out-of-body experience. Anytime you hold a secret and finally get it off your chest, there’s a sense of relief. As Darren continues to prod and get upset, there again is another moment of this father figure blaming you for something and then you’re scratching and clawing. He goes through a range of emotions. He pleads. Finally that’s when Linden and Holder walk in, and I think he makes the weak decision to commit suicide.

Parental relationships were a recurring theme throughout the season. Was Jamie’s father figure relationships with his grandfather and Darren discussed explicitly?

Once they introduced my grandfather in Episode 4, when I tell Darren the story about my grandfather, which we find out is a lie, I knew at that point it wasn’t true. I had talked to Veena about it, and she said this is not a true story. I think it’s interesting that I use my grandfather as a pawn, someone I had a tumultuous relationship with, a father figure who hasn’t been there for me to urge a father figure to do the right thing. I think there’s a couple ways to look at it. I think Jamie is sincere in telling the story. He’s lying, yes. It can be looked at as manipulative, yes. But he’s doing it for a good reason. He needs Darren to become Darren again. What made Darren so great was that he was charismatic and had a great smile and he was competitive. While he was wasting away in a hospital bed, he was losing that. He needed something to fire him up. On the flip side, it’s selfish that Jamie feels most comfortable at the office and he’s working and doing what he does best.

Did anyone in your personal life know in advance?

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No. I love my wife dearly. She has been wonderful, because in times when I could have told her, she said, “You know what? I don’t want to know. I don’t want that responsibility.” Because her friends and her family are always asking if she knows, and my wife, God love her, is not a wonderful fibber. So she would have maybe given it away. I think she had her suspicions, because I was coming home the last three weeks of the shoot at 6 in the morning from being out in the woods. She knew I was in the woods. But she didn’t ask. She’s the best.

Did they explicity warn you to keep it quiet?

For sure. I think it goes without saying. In fact, they went so far above and beyond trying to be secretive. My name wasn’t on the call sheet. I was “X.” There would be days when I would get to work and the props and wardrobe department wouldn’t have anything for me because they didn’t see me on the call sheet. For everybody it became an ongong joke. Only the series regular cast got the full scripts. Everybody else got redacted versions. It looked like you were reading files from the CIA. Everyone knew not to say anything. We all worked so hard on the project. I don’t think anyone would want to jeopardize the project by allowing anything to leak.

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