THE FOLLOWING: Kevin Bacon and Shawn Ashmore on Season 3’s New Big Bad, the Ryan-Mike Partnership, and More | Give Me My Remote

THE FOLLOWING: Kevin Bacon and Shawn Ashmore on Season 3’s New Big Bad, the Ryan-Mike Partnership, and More

February 27, 2015 by  

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THE FOLLOWING is back this Monday!

And while the show’s return might be good news for fans, unfortunately it doesn’t bode well for Ryan Hardy and Mike Weston: though Joe is behind bars, their problems are only getting started as they deal with new faces who are stirring up trouble, as well as a mysterious big bad.

I sat down with Kevin Bacon (Ryan) and Shawn Ashmore (Mike) to talk about what’s in store for season 3, their characters’ dynamic, and why Michael Ealy’s Theo is a “big unknown”…

As the show tackles a new foe, how has that changed the dynamic of the series?
Kevin Bacon: We know there’s some bad stuff going on, but unlike the first two seasons, we don’t know who it is. How are we going to figure it out? And the killings that are happening, is Joe controlling them somehow from prison? But he’s completely on lock-down, has no communication with anybody from the outside world. There’s no way he could get to a computer — we learned that you need to keep [him away from that].
Shawn Ashmore: Jordy, from season 1, was [Joe’s] access [the last time he was in prison].
KB: He can’t go near anything. So then it becomes the question of is there somebody else who’s bigger and more frightening than Joe?

Since Ryan and Mike are in the dark about what’s going on, how much is the audience seeing of what’s actually occurring?
KB: The audience sees killers.
SA: The audience sees bits and pieces, but I think what’s fun is that while we’re doing the detective work and figuring out why things are happening, the audience gets those details at the same time — it is a mystery. It’s not like when we saw Joe [do what he did], we know who’s doing it and we know why — it’s sort of unclear [this season] why these things are happening. So as we start going to crime scenes and putting the pieces together, that’s when the audience starts to discover it as well. Everyone’s in the dark and learning at the same speed.
KB: And we’re not sure when these killers come around if they’re followers or leaders. So they could be Joe’s followers or he could be their followers or [something else]. We’re a little bit off-balance.

How have your new showrunners impacted the show’s tone?
KB: The guys who are showrunning the show wrote for the show before. It’s not like they came from a completely new [perspective]. They both are very respectful of the history that Kevin Williamson created. I don’t think the tone is all that different as much as their way of working is different.
SA: It’s not as if I started to get scripts this season and went, “This is a totally different show.” It feels like THE FOLLOWING. It feels like a slightly different voice, because it is. They’re very respectful of what the first two seasons were.
KB: They were a part of the show, they wrote on the show, they want to continue that. When you’re going into the third season, you really want to make sure the people who enjoyed the show in the past still [are] in. But at the same time, I talked to a guy who said his wife tuned out because it got too dark or something for her. He’s in the business, so he happened to be watching it, and she came into the room, and got hooked back. That’s my dream for what we need to do this season: the people who revisit it will say, “Oh, that’s pretty cool.”

Looking to your characters, where do we find these two men when the season picks up?
SA: Mike is a mess. He’s been overseas hunting down Mark — the Gray fortune, they had all these shell companies that Mark could be…using to mask his expenses. So I’m hunting him down, basically trying to catch the guy. When I come back to New York, I’m a mess. I’m obsessed with it, I’ve lost the opportunity to be with Max. Which doesn’t change the way I feel about her, and the potential of that relationship; I think there’s definitely still a spark there, definitely still a desire. But Max knows Mike’s not in a place to be in a relationship, and she’s very clear about that. [Laughs] Very strong character, very strong woman. So I think what’s interesting is Mike is going to have to flush it all out to see where it goes, to get through this, and to see if he can come out the other side and be someone Max can be with. So that’s where we start out the season.
KB: [In character] I’m at a better place in my life. I’m in a relationship. I’m in a relationship with someone I should be in a relationship with — she’s kind of like the perfect woman for me. She works in a hospital, she’s a doctor; she’s not involved in the FBI, she’s not a serial killer’s wife, she’s not a killer herself.

Hopefully.
KB: Hopefully! I have convinced myself that I have moved beyond Joe Carroll. That relationship is over and will really be over, because he’s on death row. That’s where you find me at the beginning of this season. But I don’t stay that way forever.

How is Ryan reacting to Mike’s spiral?
KB: We [played with] that last year…it’s funny, I think at this point, that whole sort of mentor relationship has shifted…I’m very protective of him, but who he is, I’m not going to change him at this point. We’re partners, we’re going to go out and try and catch the bad guy. I’ve been observing what’s going on with him and his relationship with the love triangle [with Max, Mike, and Max’s new boyfriend], but I’m not going to get too involved. We do have a big player [we’re fighting].
SA: Mike’s in a bad place, but one of the things I’ve talked with [showrunners] Alexi [Hawley] and Brett [Mahoney] about is he’s going to have to start compartmentalizing his emotions. I think the reason Ryan had to start dealing with Mike [last year] is I was beating the shit out of people. It seemed to be OK with Ryan!
KB: He’s not acting like me.
SA: I’m not as unhinged. I think deep down, it’s there, and he’s walking that edge. But he’s not lashing out as much as he was in the second season.
KB: It’d be nice if moving forward, we get to the point where Mike has to take Ryan aside and say, “You got to get your shit together.” It’d be nice if that dynamic shifted like that.

What can you say about Michael Ealy’s character, Theo?
SA: Not too much! [Laughs]
KB: He’s brilliant. But not in a Joe Carroll sort of way. He’s much less theatrical than Joe. And he is not as fueled by ego, and certainly not interested in legacy. Joe was a lot about the mark he was going to leave: he wanted to be a brilliant writer, and he still has that. Ealy[‘s character] is very cold. And really, I don’t think — it takes a while to figure out who he really is. And in some ways, that’s pretty scary.
SA: There are so many levels to this character that we start peeling away. Which is scary and kind of interesting. I think immediately, with Joe, you know what his flaw is: it’s ego. Every time we got close to him, it was about that ego. Michael’s character does not have that weakness, so it’s about, “How do we get to this guy, and what’s that weakness?” He doesn’t have one. And that’s scary. How do we get to this guy? With Joe, we knew how to get to him. Not physically, but to manipulate the situation, to know who he is, to profile him. Whereas with Michael’s character, even where we are, he’s a big unknown.

In what you’ve filmed so far [editor’s note: they were filming episode 8 when this interview was conducted], what kind of interactions have you had with his character?
KB: I’ve had a phone call with him.
SA: I haven’t had anything.
KB: I’ve seen a lot of stuff, but so far, just a phone call. It’s a weird thing when you’re chasing someone, you get a great actor, and you’re like, fantastic, and now I never get the chance to see the guy. Even with James [Purefoy (Joe)], I loved playing scenes with him, but I don’t get to see him all that often.

THE FOLLOWING premieres Monday, March 2nd at 9 PM on Fox.

Related:

THE FOLLOWING: Alexi Hawley Teases Season 3’s New Faces
THE FOLLOWING: Season 3 Cast Photos
THE FOLLOWING Season 3 Premiere: ‘New Blood’ Photos
THE FOLLOWING Bosses on a Ryan Hardy-Centric Season 3, Michael Ealy’s New Big Bad, and More
THE FOLLOWING Season 3: ALMOST HUMAN’s Michael Ealy Lands a Series Regular Role

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