Jeremy Renner leads mayor of kingstown as Mike McLusky, the self-appointed enforcer of inmates’ relationships with the outside world. He was forced to take over after his older brother Mitch was killed in the series’ first episode. Though he is a reluctant leader, his people skills and chaotic morality help him make the most of his situation, even as his family finds itself struggling with their circumstances. Created by actor Hugh Dillon and yellowstonein Taylor Sheridan, mayor of kingstown is a series that never pulls its punches.
screen rant spoke with Handley about how Kyle is dealing, or failing to deal, with the pain and shame of last season’s riot. The actor also discussed how the McLusky family dynamic will evolve and praised Jeremy Renner as a friend and co-star.
Taylor Handley speaks to the mayor of Kingstown in Season 2
Screen Rant: Kyle went through a pretty traumatic time in the riot, and we can see that he’s not handling it well in the first few episodes. Can you talk about how the effects of the reading or the riot will reverberate for you this season?
Taylor Handley: Yeah, Kyle’s fallout is the main subject he has to deal with this season. Season 2 kicked off a few weeks after it happened, so we’re still right in the middle of the action. Like I said, there are consequences for everyone, but Kyle is specifically given time to think about how he reacted under pressure. He’s in a lot of pain and a lot of shame, and he’s running from it as fast as he can. He’s just trying to keep himself busy doing things so he doesn’t have to sit in silence, and he doesn’t have that guilt and that pain consuming him.
He takes the job with the Michigan State Police, and as you can see, he really needs redemption. He’s just trying to get it any way he can, but he’s just clinging to the straw because it’s coming in so hot. Let’s just put it that way. He’s getting really hot, and he’s a guy who’s just struggling and trying to allow himself to get back into the human race. He put himself in the penalty area after his performance under pressure. It’s quite an interesting season for Kyle. He is having a crisis of faith.
Iris may be the light in the dark for Mike, but her closeness to Milo makes her a threat to the rest of her family. This season, Mike introduces her to the house, much to Kyle’s. He has his wife, his unborn child, and his mother to take care of. How does Iris’ situation affect him and his family going forward?
Taylor Handley: Well, it’s not the best idea to bring in the girl whose proximity to one of Kingstown’s most notorious villains and criminals is so close. Early on in Episode 2, I check on Mike in the kitchen. I say, “What the hell are you doing? Get her out of here.” But, of course, Mike always has reasons for the things he does. So, you’ll have to see it happen.
Speaking of Kyle’s family, how does becoming a father affect his outlook? Now that Nishi Munshi has become a series regular, do we have more of that dynamic between the two of you?
Taylor Handley: Absolutely. I’m so glad they made Nishi a series regular. She’s fantastic and I love working with her. She is the true beacon of hope for Kyle and probably the only good person in Kingstown. The dynamic between her and me is very grounded, and she brings an incredible presence to the show.
Like I said, it’s a continuation of Season 1, and we’re right behind it. Kyle is still processing what it’s like to be a father while suffering from PTSD and shame. It’s hard for him to be there because he’s so focused on his mind, but Tracy is constantly trying to be his biggest advocate and get him help. But Kyle is Irish; the last thing he wants to do is talk to a therapist. He thinks, “I’m going to shoot some guns. I’m going to blow some heads off.” That’s how he gets his therapy.
It’s so interesting to me that the way Miriam deals with the world of Kingstown is trying to peacefully fight the prison system while her kids are very much involved in that. Do you talk about the family history on set, and what was passed down from mom and dad?
Taylor Handley: Yes, it’s our legacy. In a way, it’s the legacy of the boys. And as much as Miriam was told to stay away from it, she’s also in the thick of it. It’s not so easy for her to say goodbye to her job in the prison system or prison system. She wants to do good for the people inside, just like Mike. Why? Is it a foolish mission to keep trying to help this town? Once again, he goes back to legacy.
This town is called Kingstown. Originally, it was a city founded with the idea that we would be kings here. How can you give up something that is so important to you, especially with a family that has such deep roots and history there? It’s hard, and it’s easier said than done to just walk away and walk away. If Miriam was serious about this then she would move in with Kyle and Mike; we would all move in like a good happy family. But nobody leaves. And that’s just the McLusky cross to bear.
We are all wishing Jeremy, our other McLusky brother, a speedy and safe recovery. But what is that dynamic, on and off screen, like for you? How do you bring that deep bond of sisterhood to life as the two carry that legacy on screen?
Taylor Handley: Renner is probably one of the most generous actors I’ve ever worked with. It’s almost like a masterclass every time I get into a scene with him. It’s hard not to do a good job when you’re playing opposite him, because he’s such a truth seeker. He doesn’t say a fake line, and when he steps onto set, he knows everything inside out. I am very lucky to be able to work with such an amazing person.
And when it comes to the brotherly dynamic, he’s a pro. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, but I vividly remember the first time we did a scene together. It was our first time meeting, so I walked up to him and he said, “Hey, how are you?” I said, “I’m Taylor and I’m playing your brother.” We talk for about 15 minutes and then boom, we’re on the subject. We didn’t even need to talk about the scene; we just got into gear. It’s like I’m with my own brothers. He’s really fantastic, and I’m so grateful to be working with such a master craftsman from him.
This is wonderful. You also get to work with another master of his craft, Taylor Sheridan. He also became a master of expanding his universe. Is there any other area of mayor of kingstown would you like to explore, or would you like to move on to yellowstone?
Taylor Handley: I love Yellowstone. Of course, I would love to spend time in Yellowstone. I would love to do anything that Taylor asks me to do. Currently in Kingstown, the grit and rawness of this town is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a world I’ve always wanted to act in and I want to do this show for 10 years because the quality of the cinema and the stories we tell is so high. The cast and crew are so talented. I was watching it with my wife, who was like, “This is fantastic!” I watch a lot of TV and give it my stamp of approval. It’s so well done, beautifully shot and incredibly acted. I am the show’s biggest fan.
About the Mayor of Kingstown Season 2
The Mayor of Kingstown follows the McLusky family – power brokers in Kingstown, Michigan, where the incarceration business is the only thriving industry. Tackling themes of systemic racism, corruption and inequality, the series offers a stark look at his attempt to bring order and justice to a city that has neither.
Check out our previous interview with mayor of kingstown star and EP Hugh Dillon.
Next: Explanation of the 1883 season 1 finale and future setup of the Yellowstone shows
New episodes of mayor of kingstown season two airs Sundays exclusively on Paramount+.