The Following has amassed a group of people hanging on serial killer Joe Carroll's (James Purefoy) every word, joining in his mission, and acting out their own violent fantasies to follow in his footsteps. He has given them the courage to be the people they want to be, but he has also given them the tools: he was their teacher, and they are imparting his lessons in their own lives. But what about Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon)? Through his book about capturing Carroll, he, too, is a teacher of sorts, laying out a plan of attack on the nation's criminals. And he, too, has attracted an audience of sorts in young FBI agent Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore). Doesn't Mike seem to worship Hardy just as much as any of Carroll's followers do him?
"He’s his hero. I think Mike sort of feels like he’s kind of a rock star—this guy who caught the most notorious serial killer, and now he’s working next to him. So, I think there’s that aspect of 'Oh my God, I want to impress my potential mentor'," Ashmore said when we sat down with him in Los Angeles to talk about The Following.
"The way that I look at Mike is that he’s studied the case, he knows Ryan...He doesn’t judge Ryan. He doesn’t care that he drinks. He doesn’t care that maybe he had an affair with Claire...All he knows is that Ryan Hardy captured Joe Carroll the first time around. Nobody else could do it. And so, Joe Carroll’s loose again, who are we going to look to? Why are we giving this guy a hard time when he knows? And so, I think as the show progresses Mike is willing to break the rules a little bit to go along with Ryan’s instincts."
Of course, Ryan Hardy is not the type of character who wants the attention Joe Carroll does. Hardy seems like he would enjoy nothing more than to just be left alone entirely, but not only has he been sucked back into Carroll's case, but now he has to deal with this buzzing, excited kid around him. Though Mike may look up to Hardy, he isn't going to get a typical, welcome role model response from the guy.
"He’s like, 'Kid, leave me alone, like let me do my job'," Ashmore said of the on-going working relationship between the two men.
"Ryan starts to trust him and he starts to acclimate to the case a little bit, [and] I certainly think that you start to see the weight of dealing with this...but I don’t think it’s an obsession where he’s so blinded by what is happening, I think, that it is going to cause him to be in trouble."
The Following airs on FOX on Monday nights at 9 p.m.
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