Premiering on Fox on January 21st, The Following starring Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy is one of the most chilling network dramas ever conceived. The story focuses on former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin) who is brought in as a consultant when an infamous serial killer, Joe Carroll (James), escapes from death row and embarks on a new killing spree with the help of people he has been secretly communicating with on the internet … his ‘followers.’
Kevin and James spoke about their frightening series, which has received critical acclaim, at the recent TV press tour.
Can you talk about working together?
Kevin: I love working with James, he’s fantastic. From the time we got together the first day we walked in and it was like a dance that was ready to happen.
James: It’s great working with Kevin. The man’s a legend. If you’re playing tennis against somebody useless, you get worse. When you’re playing tennis against somebody like him, you just get better as an actor.
So every day when I’m doing a scene with him, I feel like I just get a little bit better.
James, you are so evil in this where do you go inside to get that from?
James: I’m not a big believer in good and evil as concepts. I don’t believe that some of us are born with mental illnesses. Sometimes they are compounded with your environment, your geographical, economic background, things that happened to your parents.
Some psychotic people become killers, some psychotic people work on Wall Street.
What did you think when they wanted you to use your English accent for such a villainous role?
James: I barely know a Hollywood movie or television series where the English are not bad guys. You guys have got to get over 1776!
Kevin, do you know who the ‘followers’ are in the future?
Kevin: I’ve never seen an entire bible for the series or for the whole year. So when I get a new episode and I start reading it, I’m as surprised as anybody else is.
Joe is somebody who has to convince people to do things that most people don’t normally do. Is it a burden as a performer to find that level of persuasiveness?
James: I think you’re misunderstanding the people in The Following. These are people who don’t need the slightest bit of convincing to do the things that they do.
These are people who have joined up with him because he offers them a nonjudgmental and a safe place to enact and things that they want to do.
These aren’t people who were forced to join a cult. These are absolutely willing accomplices.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Silence of the Lambs, and as we shoot the show more and more, I’m convinced of how unimpressive Hannibal Lecter’s vision was. He could only see up to the next meal!
Kevin: He’s no Joe Carroll.
Is it easy to let go of these characters when you go home?
Kevin: I’ve been doing this a long time, and it’s always been important for me to always connect with the people that I love, my kids and my wife, and my friends and to find ways to turn it off.
James: I think if I was going to method this over a couple of months on a movie it would be a different thing, but this is a long job.
I’ve got two kids, I’ve got potentially seven years of this, so when I take the costume off at the end of the day, that’s it. Between ‘first call’ and ‘that’s a wrap,’ I’m a different person.
When you guys are in your scenes together, you have such great chemistry I almost want to see you kiss.
Kevin: Anything can happen. (Kevin leans over and plants a big kiss on James’ cheek.)
James: Rule nothing in; rule nothing out.
Kevin was asked if he was disturbed about the violence in the series. Click below to listen to his reply.
I asked James what his wife thought about his ‘killer’ role. Click here for his amusing anecdote.