Mayor of Kingstown Interview: Emma Laird on playing the wounded and divided Iris

We speak to Mayor of Kingstown star Emma Laird about playing her complex role.

Last Updated on July 11, 2024

While Taylor Sheridan regularly earns raves and blockbuster ratings for his shows in the Yellowstone universe, probably the most underrated program he’s a part of is Paramount Plus’s Mayor of Kingstown. The show, now airing its third season, revolves around Jeremy Renner’s Mike McLusky, a former prison shot-caller turned mediator between the criminal element of his town and law enforcement. Over the course of the show, he becomes involved with Emma Laird’s Iris, a seductive escort working for the Russian Mafia, who is initially sent to seduce Mike. Still, she winds up being much more layered than anticipated. Mike discovers she’s been trafficked since she was young and sets about trying to free her from life, only to find that her loyalties are complicated, to say the least.

Fresh off of speaking to star Jeremy Renner, who opened up about the challenge of returning to such a physically demanding role after his near-fatal accident, I had the opportunity to speak to Emma Laird, who’s evolved into a lead in her own right. This season has been a rough one for Iris, with her town between her devotion (and unrequited love) towards Mike and her complex relationship with the mob.

In this refreshingly honest interview, Laird opened up about the challenges of shooting three gruelling seasons of such a brutal show and how her relationship with Renner has evolved over the years, both on and off-screen. She goes on about her admiration for his recovery and devotion to his craft while admitting that the show’s writing often challenges her as an actress unexpectedly. She also praises the work of another Taylor Sheridan regular, Isabel May, who she says was actually up to play Iris, but was so impressive that the showrunner built 1883 around her, paving the way for Laird to take on this incredible role. It’s a great interview, and Laird is a really cool person to talk to. If you haven’t yet taken a dive into Mayor of Kingstown, give it a shot. It’s a terrific show. 

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.