Fans of FOX's The Following heard a lot about the mysterious Roderick before he actually showed up on-screen, in Joe Carroll's (James Purefoy) "new chapter." He was the man in charge while Carroll was "away" in prison, and he designated a lot of tasks. But despite this-- and despite the revelation that he had actually been working with Carroll from long before Carroll went to prison that first time-- Roderick is still not privy to everything, the way a true partner would be. Though his portrayer Warren Kole admitted that Roderick would certainly like to consider himself an equal with Carroll, he is very much one of Carroll's followers-- his first, perhaps truest follower-- not a partner.
"Roderick is involved as much as Joe wants him to be involved at his point," Kole said to LA TV Insider Examiner over the phone.
"Little by little, you’ll begin to understand the foundation between these two guys and just why Roderick is so loyal. It’s as solid a foundation as there can be between two killers. I think Roderick sees them, or wants to see them, as equals. He wants to sort of take the place of the father, and I think Joe is almost this mythical figure at this point."
Roderick feels like he owes Carroll, though, so "taking his place" wouldn't be about killing him in the traditional Oedipus sense. Rather, Roderick has learned from him, and now there may be times when he feels like the student has surpassed the master. We have already seen him take a backseat to Carroll, even when he seemed to be struggling with wanting to, and that ended in an eruption of emotion that seemed almost uncontrollable. As Kole put it himself, "There’s no sensibility to this household. They can go any way at any time at any extreme...It's a whirling emotional dervish!"
"We see a scene like that on a page, and we’re like ‘Boy, how does everybody feel about this?’ Roderick was sort of relegated to the spectator role in that scene," Kole said of Charlie (Tom Lipinski) offering himself up in "Welcome Home."
"We all made several choices while we were shooting. Are we excited by it? Am I jealous about it? Is Joe excited or a little saddened or overwhelmed that I didn’t achieve my mission? Does he wish he had a better team? There’s a suggestion that it was exciting because afterwards Joe and Roderick have their encounters, and there's this expression of violence and sexuality afterwards. But I kind of enjoy the mystery of it. What are the rules here? Are there any? I don’t think there are...It’s all about this negative space that occupies kind of a weird scene."
Roderick has already deeply proven his loyalty. He has been working pretty much on his own, on the outside, to set up an extremely cushy situation that Carroll just waltzed back into. And in that, Roderick has had a taste of the response Carroll gets for himself, but now he is being asked to step back a bit, and that is what Kole finds most fascinating-- and most unpredictable-- about the character and his actions and behavior to come.
"Roderick is in a place of power here. He does have a lot of leverage. He was probably the celebrity of this household [before] Joe’s arrival. For any narcissistic sociopath like Roderick seems to be, that’s a blow to the ego, and that’s a tough pill to swallow, regardless of how beholden he feels to Joe," Kole said.
"Where is Roderick coming from at this point? How does he feel about how Joe’s treating him in this world that he set up for him? That’s really where the meat of it is for me."
In many ways, Roderick and Emma (Valorie Curry) may find a lot of common ground in the sense of losing authority when Carroll was in front of them, in the flesh. The two may see that common ground as further competition for Carroll's attention and affection, though, rather than standing strong together.
"Emma’s a pretty strong-willed character. If Roderick is going to try to manipulate her and play some politics, it will be a challenge. That should be a fun game for Roderick to play, going into the next few episodes," Kole said.
Kole shared that as the back half of the first season continues, we will get to explore more of his origin story as Carroll's student. But for him as an actor, the "why" behind Roderick's devotion to Carroll isn't as important as the choices he makes because of it.
"There’s no time to sit down and question or intellectualize, which doesn’t help anyway, for an actor. You just go in and accept the circumstances for what they are. He’s a complicated man. You don’t need to understand the why as much as you might think to understand this behavior. What does he want? He wants to please Joe, and he wants this fantasy place to really happen," Kole said.
"You just play the moments as they are. You’re getting involved in their relationships and their emotional world. There was such a build-up to this character, that it would almost be impossible to not get excited when you finally meet Roderick. I think it’s excitement that the story is progressing, and you finally get to see just how deep this rabbit hole goes—more than you’ll fall in love with the killer."
The Following airs on FOX on Monday nights at 9 p.m.
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