Kevin Bacon Interview: ‘The Following’ Season 3, New Villains, and Playing Ryan Hardy

Kevin Bacon Interview on The Following Season 3
Mike (Shawn Ashmore), Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) and Max (Jessica Stroup) star in ‘The Following’ Season Three (Photo by Christopher Fragapane ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co)

Fox’s riveting drama The Following kicks off season three on March 2, 2015 at 9pm ET/PT. The third season promises more thrills and twists, and during a conference call in support of the upcoming season premiere Kevin Bacon revealed that new key characters will be introduced that will stir things up. Bacon also discussed his character’s new love interest, his returning co-stars (James Purefoy, Shawn Ashmore, and Sam Underwood), and what fans of The Following can expect from this new season.

Can you talk about some of the new threats that we’re going to see this season?

Kevin Bacon: “Mark is still there. Dr. Strauss, who was also from the previous season, is involved. We have a fantastic, loving and extremely beautiful couple named Daisy and Kyle who are terrible, terrible sociopaths but incredibly in love with each other. They’re kind of reminiscent of Bonnie and Clyde or Natural Born Killers. I think they’re a lot of fun.

Joe Carroll, while we don’t see him for the first few episodes, is still a very big presence in my life and I’m trying to really figure out if the killing that’s happening in and around New York now is somehow connected to him or not. That’s part of what I sort of uncover in the course of this season.”

How’s it working with James Purefoy again?

Kevin Bacon: “All day long I want to kiss him. I mean, I’m crazy about James. You know, it’s interesting because from the beginning of the series, one of the essential parts of it was this relationship between these two men. But because he’s been on the run so much in the last few seasons, you know, the amount of times that we interface it’s sadly not as many times as I would like because I love playing scenes with him. I think they always come out well.

I will say that through some really kind of great ingenuity amongst the writers that I think some of the best scenes that we’ve ever played in the course of three seasons, we play this year. So that’s always a joy, you know? When I see him on the call sheet, or I see him on the set, I have a tremendous amount of fondness for him. It’s like you get the ball and you just get to smack it back and forth with a great player.”

Season one was full of a lot of shocking twists, while season two was paired down quite a bit and it concentrated more on the finer details of the characters. Where does season three fall into that spectrum?

Kevin Bacon: “You know, I think that we know that our audience enjoys the twists but, at this point, we also know that our audience is very savvy and very much looking for that. So I feel like we’re trying not to throw things in there that are twists for the sake of twists. The ones that happen, and the things that are surprising, are still going to be there, but they’re going to come like in a really sort of organic way. I also think that we’re trying to keep focused on the emotional content of the show, and what’s going on personally with these characters, because without that it doesn’t really land.”

Who do you think is a more dangerous adversary, Mark Gray or Joe Carroll?

Kevin Bacon: “Well, that’s a pretty hard to thing to assess. I mean, maybe Mark was more dangerous when there were two of them…when his brother was still alive. But Sam is such a great actor that they sort of figured out ways this season to try to keep, actually, an aspect of the twins still there. At the same time, Joe Carroll is Joe Carroll. Both of the characters have one thing that is similar about them is that a lot of the things that they do are driven by ego and by a kind of narcissist.

What’s interesting about the character that Michael Ealy plays, who is Theo, who is sort of slow-burning into the season this year, is that he’s actually a guy that prefers to be behind the scenes, to not be in the limelight. You will see pretty quickly that that is equally as chilling and equally as terrifying. The shark that swims beneath the surface of the water.”

What we can expect from the relationship between series newcomer Zuleikha Robinson as Gwen and your character Ryan this season?

Kevin Bacon: “Well, it’s great for me to have this relationship for a number of reasons. One thing is that I’m crazy about Zuleikha. She’s doing a great job and we have a really nice connection. If you look at my love life, Ryan’s love life, it’s been complicated because you know there was Claire who, as fantastic as our relationship was and Natalie Zea is such a great actress and was so great in that part, I mean she’s the wife of the serial killer, so probably not the best person that I should be involved with. Then you look at Carrie Cooke who was writing an expose. She was a tabloid journalist. Again, maybe not the best choice and, my neighbor, Molly, who ended up being one of Joe’s followers and stabbing me. So my picker as a man is a little bit off.

Ryan Hardy, he’s not a good picker. Then here comes this character of Gwen this season who truly is the right woman for him. She’s not involved with the FBI. She’s not involved with the case. She’s not a killer. She’s a doctor. She’s someone who helps people, heals people. That’s really what I need in my life and she’s also willing and able to kind of call me on my s***. So when I look at her I say to myself, ‘Okay, this is the girl that I should be with,’ and the struggle of trying to keep that relationship together in light of this incredibly difficult and bloody and stressful job that I have is going to be part of what is the backbone of the season.”

You touched on this but what has it been like working with Zuleikha on set so far?

Kevin Bacon: “You know, you get thrown into these situations with people that have to become incredibly intimate and there has to be a sort of trust there like right away. Zuleikha and I, we played a scene the other day where we didn’t kiss and I was like, ‘Wow, we didn’t kiss. This is the first scene we’ve ever done that we’re not kissing in.’ You have to be able to have somebody that you really feel safe with and feel connected to and she’s that.

She’s just a fantastic person and really willing to just kind of roll up her sleeves and get to work. No BS and I’m crazy about her. She’s a little mysterious in a way, too, which is cool. I feel like I know her, but like I kind of don’t know her in a lot of ways, you know? And that doesn’t actually hurt in terms of me and Ryan and that whole thing.”

Do you look at it as kind of a Holmes and Moriarty thing where they’re two sides of the same coin?

Kevin Bacon: “No, not really. No. I think that when you look back at the introduction of Joe in season one, when I met Joe for the first time, I didn’t know that he was a serial killer. His wife turned me onto him because she said that he could be helpful with this case and I was kind of enamored with him because I feel like he has qualities that I just don’t have.

If I went to a cocktail party – when I say ‘I’ I mean Ryan – if I go to a cocktail party, I’m not going to be able to converse. I’m not going to be able to be charming. People are not going to be drawn to speaking to me. I’m not a people person. I’m off-putting and often abrasive and short tempered and I’m not that guy. Joe is so charming. He’s so verbose. He’s so well-read. He’s so kind of continental in a way that I think Ryan really sort of admires and before I find out that he was taking people’s eyes out, he would have been a guy that I would have liked to have been friends with and tried to see if I could be a little bit more like him. So I think that’s really at the essence of the relationship and this season it’s almost as though as he’s an ex of mine, you know? It’s almost like a love triangle because I’ve told this woman that he’s out of my life 100% and here he comes making his way back into my life and she’s not happy about it.”

How protective will Ryan be of Max this season now that she’s joined the FBI?

Kevin Bacon: “You know, I will throw myself in front of a bus for Max and one of the craziest and most angry that I get in the course of the season has to do with something that happens to Max. It has to do with her not being protected in a way that I find absolutely unacceptable. So, yeah, I have a sister who lives in Florida but I don’t really know her that well and we’re not that close, and Max’s dad was killed in 9/11 and so she’s really it. My parents are both dead. She’s my family, so, yeah, I’m protective.”

The Following is quite dark. Was that a factor in you agreeing to do the project?

Kevin Bacon: “You know what? As I went through this process of trying to figure out what I was going to do in television, I started to realize that the things that I was drawn to, both as a reader and as a watcher, were things that had very high stakes, life and death situations. While I enjoy light material and I certainly sometimes wonder what it’s doing to me to be going to such a dark space all the time, I can’t help it. I’m drawn to the high stakes and that’s what this show offers me.”

Could talk a bit about working with Shawn Ashmore this season?

Kevin Bacon: “I’ve seen Shawn’s journey from the beginning of The Following and I wasn’t really that aware of his work. In the scenes that we did in the first season, the beginning scenes, you could see that he was skilled and enthusiastic but kind of like the Mike character, who really knew that he was going to be able to go to these really dark places because he’s not a guy that hints to that in any way? He’s Canadian and he’s like really nice and really calm and sort of secure and like a really solid kind of guy and yet we have taken him through so many really, really, rough, difficult things on the show and he continues to just hit home runs all the time. This season is no different. It’s great for him. You know, he comes into it in a really dark headspace. He’s probably a little bit more Ryan than Ryan is at the beginning of the season.”

-By Rebecca Murray

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-Interview with Kevin Bacon and Shawn Ashmore at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con:

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