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Hot Cable Series The Killing, The Borgias, Game of Thrones Boost Breakout Stars

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 26, 2011 at 8:06AM

Post-Oscar season, there's no question that these days, the best viewing to be found is on cable. Not only are AMC's critically-hailed Danish murder mystery remake The Killing, HBO's Tolkien light fantasy series Game of Thrones (adapted from George R.R. Martin's novels by top Hollywood scribe David Benioff and D.B. Weiss), and Showtime's The Borgias (adapted by writer-director Neil Jordan) compelling, gorgeously-mounted, well-written series, but they are breaking out --and reviving--talent as well.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Post-Oscar season, there's no question that these days, the best viewing to be found is on cable. Not only are AMC's critically-hailed Danish murder mystery remake The Killing, HBO's Tolkien light fantasy series Game of Thrones (adapted from George R.R. Martin's novels by top Hollywood scribe David Benioff and D.B. Weiss), and Showtime's The Borgias (adapted by writer-director Neil Jordan) compelling, gorgeously-mounted, well-written series, but they are breaking out --and reviving--talent as well.

The two leads in The Killing, Mireille Enos (lead homicide investigator Sarah Linden, pictured) and Swedish star Joel Kinnaman (Linden's untrustworthy new partner Stephen Holden) have scored key movie roles. Enos is in talks to play U.N. worker Brad Pitt's wife in Marc Forster's post-zombie survival picture World War Z, which is set to shoot in June in London, Malta and other global locations, according to THR. J. Michael Straczynski and Matt Carnahan are adapting Max Brooks' book for Paramount.

Thompson on Hollywood

Enos is making the big break to movies after playing small parts on HBO’s Big Love along with various TV series such as Sex and the City. Kinnaman, who picked up a stateside UTA agent after appearing in Daniel Espinosa's Easy Money/Snabba Cash (which is being remade by Warners), will star in Espinosa's thriller Safe House, starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds; next up is Summit's sci-fi alien thriller The Darkest Hour, starring Emile Hirsch (December 23).

Meanwhile, AMC's American The Killing is a remake of Denmark's first The Killing series, which was followed by a series two; a third is currently in production. The next expected announcement will be AMC and Fox TV's plan to green light a second season.

And it's no surprise that The Borgias (video below), the wickedly historic series which is outperforming Showtime's ribald, sexy hit The Tudors, has been renewed for a second season. Jeremy Irons makes a deliciously evil 15th century Spanish Borgia Pope, who places his son Cesare--breakout Montreal actor Francois Arnaud (I Killed My Mother), who makes you like him no matter how murderous he is--inside the Vatican as a cardinal, and ensconces his noble paramour Guilia Farnese (Dutch beauty Lotte Verbeek (Nothing Personal) in a palace with easy access via underground tunnel. Jordan's career, which had been languishing of late, gets a HUGE boost from this. It proves that he can still entertain a wide, albeit adult, audience. (I interviewed Jordan at the Apple Soho Store for Ondine.)

Thompson on Hollywood

Most fun of all, if not as high-brow, is Game of Thrones (here is HBO's official YouTube page for the show, a teaser below), which demonstrates that Sean Bean (Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark) should be up for any roles that Liam Neeson and Viggo Mortensen pass on, and that Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) is worth his weight in gold--he's stealing the series out from under many other canny players. On the other hand, enough already with the brother-sister attractions (in both Game of Thrones and The Borgias) and the lousy wigs.

None of these period dramas holds a candle to HBO's incomparable Rome. Which reminds me, I was sorely disappointed when The Borgias quickly killed off Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius), who is always fun to watch. Kept alive longer is master North American character actor Colm Feore (Thor) as the not-so-righteous Cardinal Della Rovere, who is holding his own against Irons' Pope Alexander VI, who's trying very hard to kill him. For the moment.

This article is related to: Awards, Genres, Independents, Studios, Video, Stuck In Love, TV, Emmys, Thriller, Period, Fantasy, Summit, Warner Bros./New Line, Paramount/Vantage/Insurge/CBS, Trailers, Screenwriters, HBO, AMC


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.