Brandon Jay McLaren talks about his role in The Killing, working for AMC, the pilot 17th District and much more.
Brandon Jay McLaren is a young actor that certainly seems to be gaining a foothold in Hollywood. After starring in TV series' such as Harper's Island and Being Erica, along with guest-starring spots in Smallville, Human Target, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the actor is poised for a breakout year in 2011. Brandon Jay McLaren stars in the latest series from AMC entitled The Killing, which debuts with a two-hour premiere event on Sunday, April 3 at 9 PM ET. Brandon Jay McLaren plays high school teacher Bennett Ahmed, whose close relationship with murdered teenager Rosie Larsen makes him a suspect in The Killing. I recently had the chance to speak with this talented actor over the phone. Here's what he had to say.
This looks like quite an intense series. Can you talk a bit about how you first came across this role and tell us a bit about your character?
Brandon Jay McLaren: Well, I got the pilot from my manager and I read it. It was, far and away, the best pilot that I read that season. It was really great and the writing was phenomenal. I said, 'Of course. I'd love to be involved in something like this.' I went in a couple of times and they were interested, and everything worked out.
Are you recurring throughout the whole season then, or are you a regular? I believe your character is a suspect in the murder.
Brandon Jay McLaren: Yeah. I am in 11 out of the 13 episodes, for the first season. I'm one of the main suspects in the murder. There are a few, but my character was involved with Rosie, the girl who gets killed, pretty heavily. So, anybody who has any involvement with a young person who is murdered, is automatically looked at.
This seems to be somewhat of a modern-day take on Twin Peaks. Can you see this continuing past this first season? Will there be different killings that they will look at?
Brandon Jay McLaren: You know, I don't know what they have planned. I know they have plans for a few more seasons, if everything goes well, but I don't know how they plan to execute it.
Have you guys actually wrapped, or are you still in production?
Brandon Jay McLaren: No, we're still shooting. We have another month to go.
Are you shooting this in Seattle or California?
Brandon Jay McLaren: No, we're shooting in Vancouver, actually. It's Vancouver for Seattle.
Can you talk a bit about your experience shooting this so far and the people you've been working with this season?
Brandon Jay McLaren: Yeah. Veena Cabreros Sud is the executive producer. She's amazing and just a great, great writer. There's Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Michelle Forbes, Brent Sexton. They're all really great people. The cast is really, really great.
I'm curious about the format of the show. Do we see the girl in flashbacks, like before she was murdered?
Brandon Jay McLaren: I mean, there are a few. It's not like the Lost format, where it relies on the flashback, but there are a few. Every episode is pretty much, for the most part, not always, but for the most part, every episode is a day, roughly. You really get into everybody's story and how they deal with this tragedy.
How does your character deal with Rosie then?
Brandon Jay McLaren: I'm Rosie's teacher, her political science teacher. I'm a Somali-American, very disciplined and I take my job very seriously. I love my students and me and Rosie kind of had a special connection.
Do they kind of assume that there's a romantic thing going on then?
Brandon Jay McLaren: I mean, I don't know if they assume it. In this first season, everything is so open-ended, so when you get to know each character, they have something about them that is questionable. From that, you can draw a number of conclusions.
With all the great shows on AMC now, it really seems to be the place to be on cable, or on TV in general. Do you think this show would work anywhere else besides AMC?
Brandon Jay McLaren: You know, I haven't worked for any other cable network. I haven't worked for HBO so I wouldn't be able to say. I think AMC is a great fit for it, just because they're so dedicated to making things seem as they are, you know. They're so dedicated to the realism and naturalism of the show. Yeah, AMC is a great fit for this.
Are there any notable guest stars that you can tell us about?
Brandon Jay McLaren:Callum Keith Rennie from Californication comes in a couple of times. Hm, that's a good question. For the most part, the characters you meet in the first episode, you follow them through to the end. It's really about the through-line and the journey that these characters go on from beginning to end. As things are revealed, you see how these characters react.
Is there anything you have lined up after this wraps that you can talk about?
Oh, you're on that too? Nice.
Brandon Jay McLaren: Yeah, yeah. You've heard of it?
Yeah. It's the Ronald D. Moore pilot.
Yeah. It seems there are a lot of Battlestar Galactica people in there.
If 17th Precinct gets picked up, would you be able to do both shows?
Brandon Jay McLaren: Yeah, hopefully. Everybody knows what's what, so hopefully they'll make it work some way. It will be busy, but it will be great.
Yeah. Well, Alison Brie does both Mad Men and Community at the same time, so where there's a will, there's a way.
Brandon Jay McLaren: Yeah, yeah.
Is there anything you can say about your character in 17th Precinct?
Yeah. I've really got my fingers crossed for that one. It sounds like a really cool concept.
Brandon Jay McLaren: Yeah, absolutely. When I read the pilot, I was like, 'Wow. Nobody has done this before. This is going to be cool.'
Obviously if that goes to series, you'll be pretty busy, but are there any other movie projects you're circling at all?
Brandon Jay McLaren: Well, I'm going back to Being Erica, this Canadian show. I'm going to do a couple more episodes in May, because they're going back for their Season 4. Aside from that, no. That's all I've got on my plate for now.
Just to wrap up, what would you like to say to anyone who's curious about The Killing about why they should tune in when it premieres?
Brandon Jay McLaren: It's just a really gripping story. It allows you to share similar experiences with younger people on the screen, the anxiety, the fear. Yeah, it's just really great storytelling.
Cool. That's about all I have for you, Brandon. Thanks so much for your time and best of luck with The Killing and with 17th Precinct.
Brandon Jay McLaren: Thank you, man. I appreciate it.