THE FOLLOWING's Kevin Williamson: "I Don't Sit Down to Write the Horror; I Sit Down to Write the Moment After It' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

THE FOLLOWING’s Kevin Williamson: “I Don’t Sit Down to Write the Horror; I Sit Down to Write the Moment After It’

January 20, 2013 by  

Fox’s THE FOLLOWING finally has its series debut tomorrow night (that’s Monday, January 21st at 9 PM), and there’s been a whole lot of talk about it being too violent, too gory, too [insert your choice criticism here]. And while I’m not going to lie and say this show is for every single person — it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s okay — it’s also the most compelling new series of the year.

I sat down with THE FOLLOWING creator Kevin Williamson to talk about the misconceptions about the series, if the first season is self-contained, making a “hybrid” series, and more…

There’s been so much talk about the violence in THE FOLLOWING —
Kevin Williamson: I can’t get away from it. Do you realize the first movie I ever directed was called KILLING MRS. TINGLE? And then [the] Columbine [massacre] happened and I had to change it to TEACHING MRS. TINGLE and reshoot the whole movie into a PG[-13] movie. Destroyed it.

Regardless, I don’t mean to make light of it, aside from a little bit of bad timing on my part.

The timing is certainly unfortunate. But as someone who has seen the first batch of episodes of THE FOLLOWING, yes, there has is violence, but I don’t feel that’s actually the draw or focus of the show. What do you feel is the biggest misconception about the show from people who haven’t seen it, or perhaps aren’t giving it a chance?
KW: I hope there are enough people like you out there who appreciate it for being — one of the misconceptions for me is comparing it [to other things]. I was reading some review that was like, “It’s not quality cable.” Well, there’s a lot of cable that’s not quality. But at the same time, this is meant to be what it is: which is that I’m trying to make it the best of what I want it to be, but I wanted it to be a thriller.

These last years, my greatest pleasure have been to read a paperback or a thriller. A page-turner. And it has be a page-turner, and if it’s not a page-turner by 150 pages in, [I’m done]. I’ve fallen in love with Harlan Coben, his novels, there’s such a hook and twist in every chapter and it’s like, whoa, I can’t stop reading it. I wanted a TV show like that. I feel like the first two seasons I was writing VAMPIRE DIARIES, I wanted it to be that. There were so many twists and turns and I wanted it to be so emotional.

It’s not just a horror show. It’s not meant to just be a horror movie every week. It’s meant to be emotional horror; I want you to cry. I’m writing for the tears. I’m writing for the romance. That’s what I see. I don’t sit down to write the horror; I sit down to write the moment after it. I’m sitting down to write the story of Ryan Hardy, who needs to be reborn. He needs the rebirth, and he’s wounded in his heart. Wink, wink, heart allegories, Edgar Allan Poe. It doesn’t end.

It’s not supposed to be anything greater than what it is: this pulpy, fun, thrill-ride of a roller coaster show, which every week, you’re like, “Oh my God!” And you care and you cry and Ryan Hardy, he’s so damaged and he’s so tortured. He’s overly damaged. I even made him the FBI agent who’s going in for that one last case. There’s a bit I can layer in from there — he’s comfort food, in a world where there’s diabolical killings going on.

And actually, our serial killer wants the same thing [Ryan] wants: to be reborn. And they both have the same goal. And they feed each other, only one wants good and one wants bad. And it’s just sort of that cat and mouse and all the tentacles that spread out from that idea. Ryan Hardy has his tentacles and Joe Carroll has his tentacles. Ryan Hardy’s are good, Joe Carroll’s are bad.

It’s an emotional drama. Basically, it’s a soap opera about serial killers. I’m asking you to invest in these twisted storylines of these characters, of these guys. I thought we had grown there because of DEXTER and HOUSE and all these anti-heroes and all these flawed protagonists. I thought we had gotten to this place.

It seems to go back and forth about what’s acceptable. Looking at season 1 overall, is it a self-contained story?
KW: Yes. We are in episode 12 and two weeks have passed [since the pilot started]. It’s like a day an episode, almost. And there’s an over-arching idea, every week is a chapter, this is the book — book 1 — and Joe Carroll has a motive, he has a plan. What he wants is very personal. But that personal motive is traveling with a different motive, and so we have some twists and turns to get there. But he has a plan for what he wants. And for Joe Carroll, Ryan Hardy is a big part of it.

Hopefully it’ll work. I’m hoping. Because [season 1] does spin you into season 2. The lucky thing is I only have 15 episodes. And that allows me to, I think, tell these stories. Because if I had 22, I’d be screwed.

It’s almost a hybrid season — longer than cable, but shorter than the traditional network order.
KW: Yes, and that’s the thing: it’s a hybrid. It’s a hybrid show — a little bit mystery, a little bit thriller, a little soapy.

Make sure to keep checking back with for more THE FOLLOWING interviews. (Including some spoilery intel from Williamson.)


THE FOLLOWING: Faux-Crime Show ‘Scene of the Crime’ Sheds Light on Joe Carroll and Ryan Hardy’s History
THE FOLLOWING: Watch a First Look at the New Fox Series Now!

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