Kevin Williamson has created some of the most fun projects exploring the darkness of some less-than-savory creatures-- from masked serial killers to vampires. Now with The Following, he is diving into the psyches of two of these such people: a seductive serial killer and the haunted former FBI agent who captured him.
"The fun of the show to me is not to go down the road of profiling like Criminal Minds because there’s no need to; that show exists. I’m more interested in them as human beings and how they react to each other. It’s why I like to flash back and show those little moments in their lives," Williamson said when LA TV Insider Examiner caught up with him in Los Angeles.
"This show is about bad people, but also it’s a soap opera. I’m asking you to engage in a love story between three killers...It’s a hybrid show. It’s a procedural; it’s a cop show; it’s a relationship drama."
The Following is centered on a seemingly classic hero (former FBI Agent Ryan Hardy, played by Kevin Bacon) and an equally notorious anti-hero (serial killer Joe Carroll, played by James Purefoy) in a back and forth, cat and mouse game that continues from episode to episode. For Williamson, the fun of the show is in the psychological nuances that make these men more similar than either of them wants to admit.
"They’re both equally damaged, but they also want the same thing. They want rebirth-- clearly, they want the same woman, if you look at it from the external-- but internally, they both want to be reborn. Or they need to be reborn because [Carroll] failed his first time around, and clearly today, Ryan Hardy is failing miserably. They both need something to bring them back to life, and they kind of have each other," Williamson said.
Additionally, both men are quite obsessively focused on each other, but Williamson noted that neither has such a narrow focus or plan that they would be too easily tripped up simply by not seeing the bigger picture around them. The key will be seeing how each man works off of what he knows about the other man-- and where, when, and how the other man may learn to then surprise everyone.
"Joe Carroll has sat in a prison cell for eight years, and he had the notecards; he structured this story; he has Plan A, and if that doesn’t work out, he has Plan B ready to go. He has figured it all out. And Ryan knows that to a point. He just has to figure out where he can get himself in there and make the house of cards crumble," Williamson said.
Of course, moving quickly is key, too. Williamson shared that the first twelve episodes take place only over the course of two weeks. That's a lot of intensity packed into a short amount of time-- and it will undoubtedly test both the characters' integrity and the audience's acceptance of drastic actions.
"At his core, Joe Carroll is a narcissist, and in true narcissism, they have blinders on, and you can actually get to them in a really devious way. And then you have someone like Ryan Hardy, who’s so damaged, and his back story is so damaged, and he’s just surrounded by death to such a degree, in a weird way it makes him fearless. He’ll do anything; he’ll walk into a room of machetes just to save someone and not think twice about it. That makes him not only heroic, but also I think a little unpredictable. He also gets to a place where he realizes that one of the reasons [Carroll’s followers] constantly keep winning is they’re quite aware of the protocol FBI agents must adhere to, but he’s not an agent; he’s a consultant. When he goes around procedure, that’s the only way he can surprise these killers-- but then he becomes the bad guy, you know what I mean?"
The Following airs on FOX on Monday nights at 9 p.m.
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