The Killing's Peter Sarsgaard Previews a Seward-Linden Showdown as the Execution Clock Ticks

Peter Sarsgaard The KillingThe journey of death-row inmate Ray Seward (Peter Sarsgaard) on Season 3 of The Killing has been peppered with difficult questions: Did he really murder his wife? If not, then why hasn’t he been more forthcoming about it — and who actually dunnit? And, with the clock running down toward Ray’s execution date, can Detectives Linden and Holder tie Tricia Seward’s death to the murder of at least 17 runaway girls in the Seattle area — and buy Ray some more time in the process?

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Many of those questions get answered during the season’s penultimate episode — “Six Minutes” — a tense and harrowing hour of television that airs Sunday at 9/8c on AMC and takes place almost entirely inside the prison walls. TVLine caught up with Sarsgaard to discuss Ray’s Season 3 journey, the intricacies of shooting the pivotal episode, and the chance to finally engage in some extended screentime with costar Mireille Enos.

TVLINE | What’s it like playing a man who starts the episode with a mere 12 hours till he’s scheduled to be excecuted, and bringing to life all the rage, humor, regret and fear that comes with that knowledge?
It was really exciting — and it’s what I’m here to do! [Laughs] I felt like the role was well-suited for me, and every part of it felt very playable for me. And the episode, the way it was written, I was glad it avoided obvious sentimental pitfalls. At the same time, going into doing it, I remember telling the director [Nicole Kassell], “I’m not gonna cry or anything in this episode, because I really want the audience to feel the grief. And I’m not gonna be scared. I’m gonna disassociate the entire episode.” And she just looked at me and nodded. But once we started filming, it became impossible to do that — almost immediately.

TVLINE | How long did it take to shoot the episode?
Seven days, something like that. And all the stuff with Mireille [Enos] in the phone booth was shot over a two-day period. There was an enormous amount of dialogue shot on one day in particular — like 12 pages worth.

TVLINE | Ray Seward has been, in a lot of ways, a solitary character throughout Season 3, but in “Six Minutes,” he’s face-to-face with Linden for a good chunk the hour. Was it fun getting to play those scenes with Mireille?
I didn’t have many connections to other people this season, and most of acting has to do with connections, or the bouncing back and forth, the friction between two people. She was my satellite out there for the whole second half of the season, though I rarely saw her. And so it was nice to actually have her there, it felt good — probably in the way it felt good for Ray — just to be able to touch base with another human being. And it brought out the human being in me.

We had already started to see that Ray was not a monster through the course of the season. In the beginning, I’m trying to give off the vibe, “I know I don’t look like Vin Diesel, but don’t f*** with me or I might bite your ear off.” It’s a way of protecting yourself in jail. Then you start to see the other part of this guy that’s brought out through his cellmate across the way. But this is a guy whose feelings are more easily brought out by the presence of a woman — and the fact that Linden is female really did something to Seward, and brought out qualities we didn’t see elsewhere.

TVLINE | You’ve spent the entire season shooting in a prison cell, or in the prison phone banks, or the chain-link prison yard. What is that experience like, and does it start to creep into your consciousness?
At a certain point, the set wasn’t that interesting. Even unconsciously, there’s a certain amount of entertainment we derive from location. And location can say volumes about a character: The way you drive your car, the way you get out of your car. There are different places — your home versus your work — that bring out different parts of a character. And if you’re in one place the whole time, it’s difficult to reveal different sides of yourself. It was an issue even in terms of new directors coming in every week and saying, “How am I gonna film this in a way that the other person didn’t?” Creating variety is a challenge. But the actual sensation of being on that location and being on that set — I mean, there is a part of me that likes the simplicity and order of just a bed and a toilet — and that’s all. I don’t like being in jail, but I would frequently stay in the jail cell versus going to my trailer. It felt more comfortable to me. It’s also nice filming on a sound stage because the sound is always good, so it’s nice to not have done a lot of additional dialogue recording on this. I did almost none.

TVLINE | You have some interesting scenes in this episode, as you did all season, with Hugh Dillon as Ray’s prison-guard nemesis Becker. He really brings out Ray’s nasty, aggressive side. Did you enjoy that aspect of Ray’s persona?
Hugh and I had a good time together. [Laughs] I was a fan of his from Down to the Bone with Vera Farmiga back in the day. The first day I saw him I said, “Oh boy, they got a real hard-ass.” But like I said, it was a male energy all the time on set. And I was really dying for a woman — really, really wanting a woman. [Laughs]

TVLINE | So give me a 30-second pitch for why people need to tune in to Sunday’s episode.
One, it’s some of the best acting work I’ve done in a long time, so I hope they’d see it for that. [Laughs] And second, so many of the issues that have been building over the course of the season really come to a head in this hour. It would be a very easy episode to drop into and watch, because a lot gets explained.

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  1. Babygate says:

    I’m not reading article because I don’t want any spoilers. But I’m just going to say I’m still upset that they killed Bullet. That wasn’t right! How is Holder going to get over this? I was hoping they would develop a big brother/little sister type of relationship.

    • Jennifer says:

      I’m with you on Bullet. I’m completely heartbroken that she died and I’m even more heartbroken for Holder. As for this article, there’s really not any spoilers in this. It’s more about Sarsgaard’s feelings on his character, the prison set and the show. Nothing about what may or may not happen.

    • V says:

      I totally agree with you about Bullet! I’m still not over that she’s dead and I feel really bad for Holder. I’m ready to see how he deals with it in the next episode…if he does at all.

      • AshleyRae says:

        I MISS BULLET!!!!!!!!!!! i was hoping that she would make it to the finale to find out if kallie is alive.
        I still say seward is innocent regarding his wife i think he’s gonna dodge his exicution.

        • Nick C says:

          I liked Bullet and the young actress playing her but I’m glad they killed her. That EP was IMO the best the Killings ever done. There was so much weight to it. The “What’s in the box” scene killed me.

          • Nick C says:

            (no pun)

          • A says:

            Bullet was one of the best characters this season. she was deffantly one of my favs. along w/holder and linden. Bex taylor-klaus who plays bully should be reconized for protrying her.
            FREE SEWARD!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Brock says:

    I’ve found his character to be a strange one. I’ve enjoyed his portrayal and his scenes, but his storyline seems so detached to that of Linden and Holder.
    The mayor’s storyline last year and the year before was so integrated into the story that whenever we saw other things with him it made sense. While I understand he has a connection to these murders, for the most part it seems forgettable and disconnected.

  3. DanielleZ says:

    Interesting interview. I’m looking forward to this Sunday’s episode. The Killing has been great this season.

  4. CR says:

    Sarsgaard has been nothing short of amazing in his portrayal of Seward. I can’t wait till Sunday to get a whole episode with him. He goes from menacing to heart-breaking in the blink of an eye, and has been such an asset in revitalizing the show. I’m not entirely sold on him being innocent, maybe of his wife, but I think he was involved in the batch of bodies found at the pond. Innocent or not, with this show being as bleak as it is(they killed Bullet!!!!)I think we will see him swinging before the season is over.

  5. Joey says:

    Grear interview. Glad Ray will be shown more in the new episode. I can’t wait to see it on sunday.

  6. jenferner8 says:

    This is first season I’ve actually watched and I only bothered because I heard he was going to be on. I LOVE Peter in this role!! He has been so creepy cool and absolutely heartbreaking and fascinating to watch. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen him in. I would love to see him survive this season and come back next season but I doubt that will happen.

  7. Whatever says:

    I’ve watched every season of the killing but this season is absolutely my favorite.
    The Directors, Producers and the Entire cast have done an outstanding job.
    That said I’m still sad Bullet died. Man that hit me like a ton of bricks.
    I hope the Killing is renewed.

  8. kim says:

    Ray Seward is such a complex character. Sarsgaard totally nailed it! He created the monster and then humanized it!
    Im glad this episode will focus on more on him. I hope the mystery behind the drawing is finally answered!

  9. RICK WELTE says:


  10. Sherylann says:

    If he dies it I going to be stupid, bullet died. How the killer find out that she knew who it was please I am piste about that. If Ray S., dies hanging will not watch the killing anymore. It’s a good program but common some innocent people can be save!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Mary says:

    She was killed on December 26th. It’s the Prison Guard—- my theory. His wife said he is gone for days at a time, has access to police records, and is psychopath! I knew Seward was innocent the whole time. This episode was so sad!!!!

  12. Ramona Cox says:

    I am emotionally spent after tonight’s episode. I have become very fond of Ray. I am having a hard time shaking it. To complicate my feelings, Peter Sarsgaard looks just like a little 2 year old friend of mine ( sans facial hair) – even his mannerisms and eye expression. It made this episode all TOO real for me.

  13. Priscilla says:

    I think it must have been Sewards son that killed the wife. Seward was protecting him maybe? I don’t think the cases are related. Then again I was thinking it could be the prison guard too! The look he gave Seward just before they hung him gave something away. Not sure yet but I love reading everyone else’s theories! Can’t wait until next week. Love this show!!

  14. What an phenomenal acting job in this next-to-last episode- I was simply riveted to the tv- and horrified when Seward was actually hanged- Have never been more impressed by someone’s acting abilities- and I think everyone in the series is top-knotch anyway- can it get any better? Please don’t say this is the last season!!!