The series Altered Carbon is based on the first book from a trilogy of novels written by Richard K. Morgan back in the early aughts. With Netflix sinking serious cash into the first season, and an obvious ending cliffhanger promising Season 2, fans might assume that a sequel is already on the way. But Netflix doesn't work like that anymore. Where everything was once renewed, now they are more cautious. But if the series should get a second round green-lit, will the cast all reprise their roles? Will Joel Kinnaman return for Altered Carbon Season 2?
In most circumstances, one would assume Kinnaman's return would be required for the second season. After all, he plays Takeshi Kovacs, the lead of the series, whose hard-boiled detecting drives all three novels. But this future-set universe is not so straightforward. See, Kinnaman isn't actually Kovacs. He's just a sleeve that Kovacs' consciousness has been inserted into. The only necessary actor to return to the series is Will Yun Lee, who is the self Kovacs sees in his mind's eye.
Kovacs even says he's giving up the Kinnaman-played sleeve at the end of Season 1. It really belongs to Elias Ryker, the boyfriend of Kristin Ortega (played by Martha Higareda), the cop he's paired up with for this adventure. Not only is he going to remove himself from Ryker's sleeve, he's going to pay for Ryker's consciousness to be reinserted into it so Ortega can get him back and the two live happily ever after.
Does that mean that Kovacs will need a new sleeve? Well, he'd need a new actor to play a sleeve anyway, because Kinnaman is not coming back for the sequel, either as Kovacs or Ryker.
The Hollywood Reporter announced Kinneman is moving on to a new series altogether:
Altered Carbon star Joel Kinnaman has signed on for a lead role opposite Mireille Enos in Amazon Studios' forthcoming adaptation of Hanna, signaling a reunion for the two stars of The Killing. It also marks the end of Kinnaman's reign on Altered Carbon, which premiered its entire first season earlier this month on Netflix.
This is actually in keeping with the novels, where Kovacs wears different sleeves in each installment. Kinnaman revealed that even if the series is renewed, he was only ever contracted for the first one, which suggests that the plan was always to recast. If the series sticks to the books, some of those sleeves will be played by Asian actors, as Kovacs, when he is allowed to choose his own sleeve, prefers something closer to the one he was born in.
It will also feature a time jump. Book 2, Broken Angels, is set 30 years after the events of Altered Carbon. It would also feature a completely different supporting cast, as Kovacs has joined a mercenary organization that's been sent as hired guns in a corporate war on a distant colony called Sanction IV. A lot of the "noir" aspects of Altered Carbon also fall by the wayside, focusing more on the military aspects of this world building.
In short, it would be a 100 percent different show, except for the violence and gore factor, with a 95 percent different cast, making it almost an anthology-like production. Along with Will Yun Lee as his inner self, the only characters who would have to return are Renee Goldsberry as the memory of his long-dead lover Quellcrist Falconer, and perhaps Dichen Lachman as the memory of his sister Reileen, if the show chose to go that route.
Fans will have to see what Netflix decides to do. If they consider Altered Carbon to be a big enough hit to bring it back for another round, it will be interesting to see how they handle it.