The Following Interview: Kevin Bacon On Being a Part of FOX’s New Thriller

The Following

FOX is aiming to hook audiences with the thriller series The Following starring Kevin Bacon as Ryan Hardy, a former FBI agent who is brought back into the line of duty to track down prison escape and cult leader Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). Shawn Ashmore, Natalie Zea and Kyle Catlett also star. TV Equals was happy to learn more about the show from Bacon; read below to see what we learned from the conference call.

How Bacon found The Following

Bacon had a bit of a long struggle before finding the right television show to try out for.

“I had been looking for a television series for a long time, and trying to get my head around [it]–my initial call, if you will, to my representatives was probably three or for years ago. But it just took some time to really find the right one,” he said. “I had seen [wife] Kyra [Sedgwick]’s experience second-hand, and was also finding myself to be more and more of a television consumer. The quality of the shows and the writing…seems to keep getting better and better and better and I just found myself really knocked out by so many shows…and then this one had the qualities that I was drawn to.”

What to expect from the show

It’s one thing to have a thriller on cable television; it’s a completely different thing to have a thriller on network television, an area of television you probably expect to find tons of family-friendly shows. Bacon’s comments about what to expect from The Following illustrate that the show will be anything but watered down.

“I think that we are making a thriller and it’s a tense, fast-paced, exciting thriller that has a lot of moments that are are a real surprise, and that’s really what hit me when I was reading the script. Nobody really prepared me. I, really, honestly, wasn’t looking for something on network [television]…So, I found it to be such a page-turner, and found it to have so many moments where I was just went, ‘Oh my God, I really did not see that coming,'” he said.

There are several factors as to what will make this a strong television show, according to Bacon. “You combine that [surprise factor] with two other things, one being this…giant concept of the idea of this cult that [creator] Kevin Williamson has created, and just kind of the creepiness of that idea,” he said. “And then, the third, and for me, the most important thing is that it’s an exploration of these characters and their relationships…[T]he fact that we’re able to go back in flashback and get some insight into why they have become who they have become and the fact that you can meet this guy, Ryan Hardy, and know something is bothering him deeply, but not learn all the details of that in the first episode is kind of an exciting thing for an actor, to be able to go and peel the layers back.”

Getting in and out of a dark space

Bacon’s character is one that is dealing with very strenuous subject matter. Bacon talked about how he works on the show and manages to stay out of a troubling psyche.

“You know, I find that over the years, as you know, I’ve dealt with a lot of dark material in the movies, as well. I think you have to find ways to protect yourself…from that,” he said. “When I’m on the set, I’m very, very focused. We have to stay focused on our job at hand and when you’re dealing with things that are of a thrilling nature–tense, ticking clock-kind-of vibe, you have to keep yourself in that head space. But, I work real hard to try and turn it off on the weekends, if I can. And, connecting with things like my family, my kids, my dog, you know. Take a walk in the woods, those kind of things…They’re able to pull me out of that head space.”

The relationship between Ryan and Joe

Bacon said that Ryan has a complicated relationship with Joe, due to meeting Joe earlier in his career.

“In one of the episodes, and again, I think this is just a really cool idea from Kevin Williamson, we go back and we meet Ryan when he first meets Joe, and before he knows that Joe is a suspect, he’s just interviewing him by happenstance on this college campus,” he said. “And what you see is that he gets strangely seduced by Joe. Not in a sexual way, but just in a friendship kind-of way. Joe [sees] into Ryan and is able to play him like a violin.”

Bacon said there’s a lot about Joe that Ryan likes. “There’s a lot of qualities of Joe that Ryan really admires. [My character] is not a extremely well-read, well-educated man. He’s not a people person. He’s not a charmer, he’s not a dynamic speaker,” he said. “And he’s maybe not even someone you want to go have a beer with, and Joe Carroll–he’s all those things…I think [my character] look to him in a strange kind of way, and it’s…really one of the…dynamics of the show that I think is interesting, one that we can continue to play with.”

Working with James Purefoy

Bacon had nothing but kind words to say about Purefoy. “I love working with James,” he said. “…Our…working situation is one of things that came to us so quickly in a strange kind of way. It wasn’t…something that needed to be nurtured and sort-of built up over time. We walked on the set in our first rehearsal and had a great connection. I love the scenes that we get a chance to play, and he is incredibly well-prepared and…just a great actor. It’s a real gas to play with him.”

The Following premieres on FOX Monday, January 21 at 9/8c.