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Leading Man Joel Kinnaman On Authenticity, Facing Fear & Honoring Your Creative Calling

By December 18, 2023No Comments
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Episode #801



Storytelling is our most powerful device to better understand the human condition.

The creativity required to craft and share a story well told is an art. Yet creativity isn’t reserved for the chosen few. It resides within all of us, freely available to any and all who choose to nurture it. And there is much to learn from those bold enough to pursue their creative voice not just as a vocation, but—to coin a phrase from the subtitle of Rick Rubin’s book, The Creative Act—as a way of being.

Joel Kinnaman is one such being. A star ascendant on screens big and small, I was first introduced to him via his incendiary performance as homicide detective Stephen Holder in 2011’s The Killing—a show that ran for four seasons on AMC and kickstarted a career of leading roles in films like The Suicide Squad and RoboCop, and television shows like House of Cards, Hanna, and For All Mankind.

The occasion for this conversation is Silent Night. Featuring Joel as a grief-stricken father hell-bent on revenge, it’s an absolutely unhinged, John Woo-helmed vigilante actioner with a unique twist: zero dialogue. This conceit showcases Joel’s capacity to portray a multitude of extreme emotions without reliance upon words and pulls focus on his well-honed physical abilities. In addition to insane fight sequences and performance driving set pieces, Joel performed 99% of his own stunts.

This is a conversation about what it takes to pursue a creative calling. The importance of actively avoiding professional and personal stagnation. The instinct to run towards what scares you. And making good decisions about the art you want to make—and who you want to be.

“Acting is one of the only career paths where your entire life could change overnight.”


This conversation canvasses Joel’s unique path from a wayward youth in Stockholm to one of Hollywood’s most in-demand leading men. It’s about his creative process, how he built a career in the arts, and the importance of authenticity in all things.

At the heart of this exchange is a revealing story about Joel’s relationship with fear—and the compulsion to run towards it that helps frame the success he enjoys today.

We also cover the training regime that helped Joel prepare for the rigors of SIlent Night. And he shares an absolutely wild story about working with Nicholas Cage on Sympathy For The Devil you won’t want to miss.

The visually inclined can watch this one on YouTube. As always, the audio version streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Note: Check out Silent Night in theatres now and available for paid video-on-demand on December 19, 2023 on AppleTV+ and Amazon).

This is a fun hang—I hope you enjoy it.

Peace + Plants,

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Thank The Team: I do not do this alone. Send your love to Jason Camiolo for audio engineering, production, show notes and interstitial music; with additional audio engineering by Cale Curtis and additional music by Moby; Blake Curtis & Dan Drake for video, & editing; graphics by Jessica Miranda & Daniel Solis; portraits by Davy Greenberg, Grayson Wilder & Gizelle Peters; video clips for social media are created by AJ Akpodiete; copywriting by Georgia Whaley; and theme music by Tyler Piatt, Trapper Piatt & Hari Mathis.

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