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Why Erik From Hanna Looks So Familiar

If you've just caught up with the excellent Amazon series Hanna, then you know that the new second season is shaping up to have a pretty different vibe than the first. Season 1 largely had us on the run with the titular character (Esmé Creed-Miles) and her father figure Erik, who had raised her from infancy to her teenage years after rescuing her from a mysterious government facility in Romania. Hiding out for all of those years in the forests of Poland, Erik trained Hanna to be a skilled hunter, not to mention a deadly combatant — skills for which she seemed to have an innate ability.

Hanna's excursion to the outside world drew the unwanted attention of Marissa Wiegler (Mireille Enos), a CIA agent who seems to view Hanna as the mother of all loose ends. After spending the entire season on the run (and often at odds), Erik and Hanna decide to return to the facility where Hanna was born, home of the enigmatic Utrax program, to attempt to free other "recruits" — but while Hanna makes her escape, Erik dies of a gunshot wound sustained in the attempt. 

Season 2 opens with Hanna returning "home" once again to try to rescue a friend made during her ill-fated attempt at liberating the Utrax recruits. With much of the action taking place at the program's new facility, we're sure to get some interesting insights into Hanna's past — but they won't be coming from Erik, who will be sorely missed. The actor who played Hanna's father figure, Joel Kinnaman, is a stone-cold vet whose face you've probably seen in any number of television shows and feature films, and while his emotive acting style was a perfect fit for the role of Erik, that was just par for the course for an actor who elevates virtually any project he's a part of. Here's why Erik from Hanna looks so familiar.

Joel Kinnaman had a long career in Swedish film and TV

Kinnaman was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, the son of a Swedish mother and an American father. As such, he began his career on Swedish television; as a child actor, he was cast in the role of Felix in the soapy drama Storstad. He wouldn't have another professional credit for over a decade, but when the roles started to come, they came at a steady clip that hasn't slowed down since.

The actor picked up minor roles in features like 2002's The Invisible and 2005's Storm before segueing into television with small recurring roles in the ensemble drama Second Avenue in 2008 and the showbiz miniseries 183 Days in 2009. Also that year, he landed a role that would pay his bills for years to come: Frank Wagner in the crime feature Johan Falk: GSI – Gruppen för särskilda insatser. For those not in the know, the Johan Falk film series, centered on the tough-as-nails cop of the same name, is very popular in Sweden; five films in the series have been released theatrically, while a whopping 15 received straight-to-video releases. Kinnaman reprised his role in no fewer than ten of these flicks.

In 2010, he also landed the lead role of Johan "JW" Westlund in the feature thriller Easy Money, a smash hit in Sweden that spawned two sequels. It was directed by Daniel Espinosa (Life), who would soon make his way stateside; the director cast Kinnaman in his very first American feature, 2012's Safe House, in which the actor shared the screen with the legendary Denzel Washington and America's smartass older brother, Ryan Reynolds.

Joel Kinnaman endeared himself to American audiences on The Killing

By the time Kinnaman popped up in Safe House, though, he was already making a name for himself with American audiences. He had appeared in bit parts in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Darkest Hour in 2011, and that same year, he landed a role that made the best use yet of his natural gravitas: troubled police detective and recovering drug addict Stephen Holder on the AMC procedural The Killing. The series paired him up for the first time with Enos, who held down the lead role of detective Sarah Linden. While the series was exceptionally well-written and beautifully shot — it was, after all, an AMC drama — it was the palpable chemistry between Kinnaman and Enos that really made it sing.

Unfortunately, the series didn't draw quite as many eyeballs as your average Breaking Bad or Mad Men, and AMC pulled the plug after its third season. By then, though, the show had become a hit on Netflix, which picked it up for a truncated fourth and final season in 2014. Kinnaman's work on The Killing drew the right kind of attention from casting directors, and that same year he got the opportunity to play the lead in a reboot of a beloved property that might have made him a major movie star.

Joel Kinnaman is no stranger to major feature films

Unfortunately, that movie was 2014's RoboCop, a PG-13 remake of the unassailable 1987 classic that was nearly rated X for its jaw-dropping violence. Kinnaman acquitted himself just fine in the role of Alex Murphy, a dedicated cop turned near-indestructible cyborg after an attempt on his life, and on its own merits, the flick was... fine. It simply wasn't what anyone even passingly familiar with the source material wanted, and it underperformed at the box office, with any plans of a sequel scuttled in favor of an upcoming, direct sequel to the original.

Kinnaman, though, continued to pick up roles in features like the Liam Neeson thriller Run All Night and Espinosa's historical drama Child 44, and in 2016, he got another shot at tentpole glory with his role as handler Rick Flag in the DC Extended Universe movie Suicide Squad. Of course, we all know how that turned out; that film, along with 2017's Justice League, were basically maimed beyond all recognition in an attempt to bring the DC movies more in line with the tone of the wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. The franchise has successfully course-corrected, though, and fans of DC's supervillain team will presumably get the awesomely insane flick they should have gotten the first time when Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn's soft reboot The Suicide Squad hits screens next year — with Kinnaman reprising his role.

Joel Kinnaman has also starred on several popular TV series

He may be down to take feature work when he can get it, but Kinnaman seems to have a knack for picking unique and interesting television projects, with Hanna simply being the latest. In 2016, he joined the cast of the Netflix political drama House of Cards as Will Conway, a former New York governor and presidential candidate who — as a Republican — often finds that his left-leaning morality brings him into conflict with the needs of his base.

Kinnaman also starred on the first season of the Netflix sci-fi series Altered Carbon as the first "sleeve" for Takeshi Kovacs, an investigator attempting to solve a murder in a futuristic world in which one's consciousness can be transferred to another's body. Kinnaman departed Altered Carbon after the first season (save for a few season 2 flashbacks) for narrative reasons, as Kovacs was "resleeved" into a different body (Anthony Mackie) for the second outing.

Most recently, Kinnaman popped up in the lead role of the fictional astronaut Edward Baldwin in the Apple TV series For All Mankind, which explores an alternate history in which the Soviet Union beat the United States to the Moon, triggering a decades-long extension of the space race. Next, it'll be back to the big screen for the actor: he'll star in the crime drama The Sound of Philadelphia opposite Ryan Phillippe and Maika Monroe later this year before making his return to the DC universe with The Suicide Squad in 2021.