THE FOLLOWING: Sam Underwood on Playing Twins, His 'High Stakes' First Day, and What's to Come - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

THE FOLLOWING: Sam Underwood on Playing Twins, His ‘High Stakes’ First Day, and What’s to Come

January 27, 2014 by  


THE FOLLOWING is no stranger to introducing new bad guys (especially given how many characters get killed off), but viewers saw double during last week’s season premiere when it was revealed that Sam Underwood was playing twin serial killers, Luke and Mark.

I sat down with Sam Underwood (Luke/Mark) to talk about joining the series, his crazy first day, getting to learn more about Mark and Luke, what’s to come, and more…

How familiar were you with the show before you joined the series?
Sam Underwood: I knew the show beforehand. For network TV, it was rather provocative, rather shocking. [THE FOLLOWING creator] Kevin Williamson’s writing — I’ve known that name for a while. Obviously, a big fan of Kevin Bacon (Ryan) and James Purefoy (Joe), [who is] a fellow countryman. I was very well aware of the show and the following the show had in its first season. It was really exciting to get the opportunity to join the ensemble.

You’ve come off a couple of high-profile Showtime guest spots (on DEXTER and HOMELAND). How has filming this show differed from your last roles?
SU: I haven’t noticed [a difference]. In my work as an actor, it’s still going to set and doing my job. I haven’t been treated differently, I haven’t noticed anything different on set.

There’s always a different ambiance on set, but HOMELAND and DEXTER were so wildly different from each other, and they were both Showtime. I didn’t notice a difference. I was very lucky to do two Showtime shows.

How did they pitch Luke to you? After all, Luke was the character they copped to you playing when your casting was first announced…
SU: Luke is a dark, complex, dangerous individual. He was presented to me as someone with a lot of different personalities, and there’s a sexiness about him, not just in look, but in how he approaches and interacts with people. And I found that so vastly different from the two characters I played before in a lot of ways, because the other two were kids. So that’s how it was presented to me, which was exciting. It felt like I could play an adult role.

At what point did they tell you it was actually two roles you’d be playing?
SU: I was under the assumption when I was auditioning that it was one person, and in my head, I thought it was potentially a split personality. Which I was fascinated by.

It wasn’t until I went into the screen test when Kevin Williamson went, “By the way…” which I thought was a cherry on the cake. Twins have a very unique relationship. I actually found out I know a lot of identical twins in my life, so I got to talk to them about that. They are in a very unique environment as well, so it was doubly fascinating.

They did throw you right into the action in the first episode, especially with what the guys did to the girl’s corpse. But I imagine they used a stunt double for you during the subway scene, right?
SU: No, that was me! That was my first day of shooting. So to jump straight into that was exciting. We had the luxury as well — and needed, because of time — to rehearse as well beforehand. I come from a theater background, so I felt safe and secure on a subway — a real, live subway — and shooting that scene.

It wasn’t until we got on the subway car and the [fake] blood started coming out that it kind of elevated the high stakes. My heart was going, I was wearing a mask as well, it was a little claustrophobic. There was a lot of pressure on it.

Has it changed the way you look at subways now?
SU: Absolutely. I do have a moment where I look around the subway. I think the show makes you do that, for better or for worse, it makes you more vigilant…the scariest quality of what Kevin has put into his characters is these people could be anyone. They could be your next door neighbor, and you would have no idea.

You read about it all the time, don’t you? The unsuspected friendly person who has eight women locked in his basement. It’s not far-fetched. It’s not far-fetched what we get to do in this show, and that’s the scary thing. I think that’s the thing people either like or dislike about the show.

As you’re playing these guys, are you finding yourself more attached to one of the men?
SU: It’s a very odd experience — a wonderfully odd experience — because I’m playing these people, so I love them both individually. I can’t judge either one by what they do because they’re both unique in their own characters. Kevin has devised such wonderful story arcs for both them as individuals and as twins, so I relish getting to play both of them. They both get to do really wonderful things, and they both have great, interesting qualities to them.

One of the things I spoke with Kevin Williamson about was that the great thing about having you play twins means that even if one of your characters gets killed off, there’s still another one around to cause trouble. Given the nature of the show, have you had similar discussions with him about whether the run might be considerably longer for one of these men?
SU: With this show, absolutely, you never know when your time’s up, but that’s also a quality of being on the show: you never know from script to script what’s up.

Yeah, of course, I’ve got double the odds of living longer, but I’ve also got double odds of getting killed off, [potentially] in one go. You never know. That’s kind of exciting.

And you’ve got Luke and Mark [on screen] — who’s to say Matthew and John aren’t out there?

That’s true — they could be triplets or quadruplets! How much backstory are we getting on Mark and Luke this season?
SU: I can’t give specifics, but you will find out a lot. You will find the family they came from and what they’re all about. It’s a really, wonderful, exciting storyline for them both. Because within the family and their history, you see them as individuals, versus in episode one, where you see them as one, scary Tweedledum, Tweedledee.

Has there been anything written that really surprised or challenged you?
SU: Hm. [Pause] There was one scene where a quality of one of the brothers came out that I didn’t know existed in the way that it was presented to me on page, and that was not a challenge [but…] — or if it was a challenge, it was a challenge I was looking forward to doing. And very revealing about potentially what could happen with the brothers, or one of the brothers. So not challenging to the point of “I don’t know how I’m going to approach this,” but a joy to explore.

Very interesting. Is there anything you can tease about where they’re going?
SU: I think based on what you see in episode one, you’re going to see more mystery that furthers the reason why they’re doing this. Why are they doing this? The specifics behind it, I can’t tell you, but the mission behind it gets really exciting.

THE FOLLOWING airs Mondays at 9 PM on Fox.


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