Unlike procedurals and cop shows, which now routinely flood the TV landscape, AMC’s new hit drama The Killing takes a fresh and unorthodox approach to the aftershock of a murder. And 28-year-old star Brandon Jay McLaren, who plays Somalian political science professor Bennett Ahmed, says there’s a reason that so many viewers have gotten hooked on the freshman series so quickly.
“There are no stock characters in this show. All the characters are really well-rounded, whole people; they do good things and bad things, just like in real life,” says the Canada native. “My character is a Somali-American. So you get the anti-Muslim sentiment and those dynamics. You really get into these people’s lives and discover how crimes affect an entire community, not just the immediate family."
McLaren first flexed his acting muscles in roles on such TV series as Smallville and Being Erica—and, perhaps most notably, as Red R.P.D. in his “first long-term gig” on Power Rangers S.P.D. He described the experience there as “not just a show, but a life-changing experience,” because of that program’s nine-month shoot in New Zealand.
McLaren says that his role on The Killing has proven to be one of the hardest acting jobs in his career. Not so much because of the highly charged, emotional scenes, but because of a certain international language the Canadian actor with Trinidad and Grenadian roots had to master.
“Learning to speak Somali was very challenging,” McLaren says. “I wanted to do it justice and not sound like an idiot."
The Killing airs Sundays on AMC at 10pm/9c.