The Killing, AMC's critical darling adapted from a Danish series, made a big splash when it premiered in 2011, starring Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden, a Seattle detective first obsessed with solving the murder of Rosie Larsen. Now that Larsen's murder has been resolved, Linden and her partner, Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) are tracking down a serial killer who preys on homeless teenagers in Seattle for the show's third season, which premieres on Sunday at 8 p.m.
Sunday's two-hour season premiere introduces a lesbian character named Bullet, a scrappy street-kid who is the self-appointed caretaker of all of Seattle’s homeless youth. Bullet also happens to be pining for a fellow street kid, a prostitute named Lyric. Bullet might have to settle for being Lyric’s close friend and protector, according to a press release from AMC, but here’s hoping she’s able to find some love in a storyline that promises to be riveting if not singularly dark (which is pretty much The Killing’s raison d’etre).
Bringing Bullet to life is relative newcomer Bex Taylor-Klaus, in her first major role. The Atlanta native identifies as straight, but worked at an LGBT resource center in her hometown, and says she can't do typically "girly" thing like wear a dress without feeling out of place. Taylor-Klaus pursued both athletics and acting in high school, playing on the varsity softball team and performing in her school’s improv troupe at a young age. She began modeling as a baby, and was involved in archery, snowboarding, softball, riflery, rock climbing, skiing, pole vaulting, rollerblading, martial arts, and weight lifting throughout her adolescence.
SheWired caught up with the 19-year-old actor in an exclusive interview in advance of the season premiere of The Killing, to find out how Taylor-Klaus got the job while barely out of high school, and why people always assume she's a lesbian.
You had just moved to Los Angeles last summer to start your acting career, while trying to finish high school. Where did this role on The Killing fit into that? Did you arrive and get cast immediately?
Bex Taylor-Klaus: No, I had been going to auditions since I moved. Even after I got the audition for The Killing, I had to come back again and again until they finally called to tell me I got the part.
You really embody Bullet onscreen, and she's such a different kind of character than we usually see. How did you get into character?
I grew up being a tomboy. I even used to have a little Harry Potter haircut and wore Harry Potter glasses, so playing Bullet isn’t much of a stretch for me.
You were a peer leader at The Rainbow Center in Atlanta. The center serves gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning folks and their families and friends. Where do you fall on that spectrum?
I like to say I’m just Bex, but if you have to put me in a box, I’m straight.
Did working with LGBT youth at The Rainbow Center help you understand Bullet?
A little bit, yes. It’s funny because when I was at the Rainbow Center people would talk to me and tell me how nice it was to speak with someone who understood and had gone through the same things. But I didn’t. People assumed because of the way I looked that I was lesbian, but they were actually helping me understand them.
Show creator Veena Sud has said she was inspired for this season from Streetwise, a book of photographs from Mary Ellen Mark about teen runaways in Seattle; and serial killer Gary Ridgway. Did you delve into that material as
background and inspiration for your own character?
I didn’t know that the show was inspired by Streetwise until after we started shooting, but once I found out, it became a little obsession of mine. I’ve always been interested in forensic science and criminal psychology, so it was a fascinating read.
Were you a fan of the show’s first two seasons?
After I got the callback, we sat down and watched the first two seasons, and after the first episode I was hooked. But I didn’t know about the show until after I got the initial audition.
Bullet is a street kid, she doesn't like authority, she's used to doing what it takes to survive. There's a great scene where she yells, "I've got more balls than you." Yet we get to see her sensitive side from the very beginning. Did you talk to other street kids to understand her better?
Yes. After I arrived in Vancouver, I saw a girl on the street. I sat down with her and we just talked for just about an hour and a half, while she told me her story and how she ended up on the street.
Aside from the main characters, Linden and Holder, I understand very few of the previous cast members return for the third season. Do you think audiences will find that disconcerting?
I think people will be drawn into the story of this season in such a way that it won’t matter. Of course they’ll remember the characters from the first two seasons, but I think people are going to be drawn in by all the new characters and really like them.
In real life, many of the kids on streets in the U.S. are queer or gender-variant, and a depressing number of them where kicked out of their homes by their own families. Did the show's writers incorporate that into the show?
Somewhat with [the] character Rayna, who will be making a few appearances this season. Rayna is trans and phenomenal. I don’t know how deeply they’ll go into the specific issues that face LGBT youth who get kicked out of their homes and end up on the street, but it will be in there. I can’t say more without giving things away.
I understand you were a baby model from the time you were six months old. Do you remember any of that? What got your parents to sign you up?
No, I don’t remember it at all, but I remember looking at all the pictures. [Laughs] I think it had to do with someone on the street saying, "Your child is gorgeous. You should look into baby modeling," and then giving them a card. However, I think it was just because I had blue eyes.
Aside from acting, your other love is sports — any sports. What is it about sports that engages you?
I love how there are individual sports and team sports. They can give you the chance to be a part of a unit and they’re just pure adrenaline. Really, any type of exercise activity is enticing for me.
Some of these sports are typically male-dominated. What was that like?
Normal. I grew up on a street that was mostly male-dominated, as far as the kids who I played with, and we would all go out and play things like football and basketball. I always kept up with them. In fact, sometimes they had trouble keeping up with me. I actually got banned from playing football with other kids for a little bit because I got in the middle of a fight and broke it up.
So, is there anything you can’t do?
Dancing, singing, and being a girl. Dresses are so uncomfortable to me. I feel awkward. I find that, I’m a girl, yes, but I can’t do girly things without feeling out of place.