What would you do for your family? That’s the question asked repeatedly in the Irish crime drama Kin, and the answer is often accompanied by bursts of violence and dead bodies on the ground. Starring Daredevil‘s Charlie Cox as a recently released criminal hell-bent on revenge, the series stars some of Ireland’s best actors, including recent Oscar nominee Ciarán Hinds (Belfast) and Peaky Blinders‘ Aidan Gillen.
As the lead female in the cast, Clare Dunne brings tremendous depth and power to the role of Amanda Kinsella, who has the most dramatic transformation in season 1 as tragedy transforms her from a content mother to a woman increasingly submerged in criminal activity. In a conversation with Digital Trends, Dunne talks about preparing for the role while in the middle of a pandemic, the generosity of her co-star Charlie Cox, and the grueling task of shooting on a tight schedule.
Digital Trends: How did you become involved with Kin?
Clare Dunne: My agent sent them a link to the film that I wrote and was in, and then I did a Zoom audition. I did some more audition rounds dressed up like Amanda, and then I got the news a few days later that the part was mine.
When did Kin start filming?
It was the last month or so of 2020 and then into the first few months of 2021.
So it was during the pandemic then. How did that impact the filming of Kin?
There was a lot of testing, precautions, antibacterial gel masks, the whole thing.
Does that take you out of preparing for the role? How did you approach the role of Amanda when you also had to keep in mind COVID set protocols?
I prepared as I did with most roles by reading the scripts, asking [co-creator] Peter McKenna a couple of questions, and figuring out Amanda’s journey. I did a little bit of research by listening to podcasts and going on the internet. What I really had to prepare for was the work schedule, which was considerable. We shot like four episodes at the same time. We were just jumping across a lot of timelines, and for somebody who’s never done TV before, I was very nervous about that.
I got a lot of help from Charlie [Cox]. He was really so seasoned and he encouraged me to say, “Oh, can I just do one more take?” He made me realize filming a show is a collaborative effort and it’s not just do as you’re told. There’s a lot going on in-between the scenes and in-between the takes.
I loved being with such a generous cast because we all gave each other so much off-camera. I learned a lot about the team aspect of production and managing your energy. I had to shed Amanda’s skin at the end of the day as well because she’s very intense.
Amanda has the most dramatic arc in the series. What were some of the challenges in conveying that transformation? She starts in one place as a sort of innocent and then ends up in another place where she is knee-deep in crime.
I had to follow what the script was telling me to do, which really hits you in the face at the end of episode 1. The hardest thing about that is that your body doesn’t know it’s fake. So sometimes you’re stunt driving or you’re having to play one moment a lot of times. And that would be a life-changing moment in real life. And when you do that again and again, how do you manage that? I think it was the on-again/off-again aspect that I found very challenging.
In working with actors like Charlie Cox, how did you create that family dynamic that you share with him and others? Is it just in the script or do you like to talk with him off-camera and develop that relationship with him or the other actors?
There was a bit of talking off-camera definitely, but also there were two weeks of rehearsal and talking about our histories together. I think that was really key. We rehearsed in a little studio just for a couple of days. We didn’t want to overcook the material or anything, but we wanted to build the fabric of their past, which I think really informs the mystery in the present. That’s what’s always bubbling in the background. And the more you discover about their past, the more you’re like, “Oh my God, oh my God.”
Kin is being released on home video. How would you describe Kin and the main appeal of the show?
It’s about how far you go for your next of kin. Imagine the person you love most in your family having something bad happen to them and how would it change you? I don’t think any of us like to think that we have a dark side, but there is something about that shadow side of ourselves. If you think about a child or somebody that you love getting hurt, how does that change things?
Congratulations on Kin. I hope there’s a second season of the show.
Oh, there is. We start filming in June.
Maybe a year from now we’ll be talking about season two of Kin?
Kin season 1 is available to stream on AMC+. You can also purchase the DVD and Blu-ray at major retail outlets.