From show creator/executive producer Kevin Williamson (The Vampire Diaries), the dark, fast-paced thriller The Following is an epic story of good versus evil, as told through the eyes of ex-FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), who is forced to return to the case that destroyed his career when it becomes evident that notorious serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) is at the center of a cult of like-minded killers who have created an insidious web of blood and carnage. With Hardy’s help, a team of agents, including Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) and cult specialist Debra Parker (Annie Parisse), attempt to unravel the deadly plot of murder before the body count rises.
During this recent interview, actor Nico Tortorella (who plays Joe Carroll follower Jacob Wells) talked about his character’s fate, why he thinks Jacob forgave Emma (Valorie Curry) so easily, what he’s enjoyed about working with Kevin Williamson, the hardest scene he had to shoot, and how gratifying it’s been working on the show. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are major spoilers, if you’re not caught up on the season.
Question: So, what was it like to film your death scene?
NICO TORTORELLA: I found out probably a week beforehand, and that was the last scene that I got to shoot with Valorie [Curry]. It was intense and dramatic and emotional. It was my goodbye to her. We’ve had such an incredible season, working together. The neck prosthetic piece that I had on was a whole big ordeal. It took four hours to put that piece on, and then it was all rigged up with the blood.
It’s been a roller coaster of a relationship between Jacob and Emma. How did you feel about it being Emma who actually ended up killing Jacob?
TORTORELLA: I think that it made the most sense, in terms of the drama, and the love story between the two of us, and her love story with Joe Carroll. Honestly, maybe aside from Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), I wouldn’t have wanted it to be anybody else.
Were you surprised that Jacob forgave Emma so easily?
TORTORELLA: Yes, I was surprised, to an extent. But at the same time, there were only so many people that Jacob had to turn to, in that house. Emma was literally getting slapped back and forth by everybody else in the house, and when she finally turned to Jacob for support, Jacob had nobody else to turn to, so it was either love or not love, and I think Jacob just showed love.
In your own opinion, if they had gotten away and left together, what do you think would have happened? Do you think that they would have been caught, or do you think that she would have turned on him, down the road?
Will some karma come Emma’s way in the finale, after offing Jacob?
TORTORELLA: Absolutely! There’s going to be some twists and turns to throw her character off a little bit.
As the story moved forward, Joe Carroll’s biggest Achilles’ heel proved to be his love for a woman. And with your character, it was the love of a woman that did him in. So, just what is this show saying about love?
TORTORELLA: Love rules all. It absolutely does. When Jacob was in the car with Emma, he turns to her and says, “I’m leaving with or without you, but I do love you.” It was ultimately her decision, and her love for Joe Carroll that ruled all. So, it is totally ironic.
What do you like about working with show creator Kevin Williamson?
TORTORELLA: There are always surprises and you never know what’s going to happen. He’s one of the few masters of his genre. It’s always a pleasure to work with him. I’m excited for what our next project is.
Is there any chance that you’re going to be working with him in the near future?
What was the hardest scene that you had to do, on this show?
TORTORELLA: The hardest scene that I had to do was probably Paul’s (Adan Canto) death. It was definitely the most challenging scene that I’ve had to work on, thus far, as an actor, just because it was utterly, emotionally, completely draining. It was probably the most satisfying and gratifying experience I’ve ever had as an actor, as well. It was a long day and that was the last scene of the night. I gave it every inch of what I had available.
With The Following, were they strict with the lines or did you improvise, at all?
TORTORELLA: Kevin was a stickler about staying to the books. There were a few places where I was able to ad-lib a little bit, but not really. The way he writes is pretty consistent, and he wants you to say what he writes.
Once you had finished shooting, how did it feel to reflect on the time you spent on the show?
TORTORELLA: It was totally bittersweet. I would have loved to stay on the show for longer and watch Jacob’s character unfold a little bit more, and see how exactly he got to this place and where he was going. But, Kevin Williamson just has such an amazing way of building up characters, and then just dropping them out to shock the audience. At the end of the day, it’s all about the drama, and I wouldn’t change this experience for anything.
This show is pushing the envelope, in terms of what we’re seeing on network TV. Does it give you a sense of accomplishment or pride to know that you were a part of that?
TORTORELLA: Yes, for sure. We were the follow-up to the drama and intensity that 24 had on Fox. But, it’s always gratifying to know that you’re working on a show that is not only intense, but is also a social commentary. It’s constantly pushing the envelope, and that’s every actor and filmmaker’s dream.
What are you looking to do, in terms of a follow-up to this? Are you looking for other TV projects?
TORTORELLA: I’m actually shooting a movie right now called Hunter and Game, which is a fictional documentary about an electronic music group. It’s comedy. It’s hysterical with a lot of improve, and it’s been a great follow-up to working on such a dramatic show like The Following. But, I want to do it all. I don’t want to get locked into any one type of genre. Some type of romantic comedy after The Following would be just fine with me. I’m reading a bunch of amazing scripts right now – some in the suspense genre and some period pieces. I just want to constantly be working with amazing directors and amazing actors, and just always pushing the envelope on what I can do, as an actor.
Are you actively seeking TV projects, or is it just whatever medium comes your way?
TORTORELLA: It’s both. I love the consistency of working on television. You don’t get that in working on film. But, it’s all about the right projects. I’m reading different stuff, every single day. I’m actively seeking.
Is The Following the type of show you would normally watch?
TORTORELLA: Not necessarily. I watch a lot of Comedy Central. They’re doing a lot of really cool new shows that are like behind-the-scenes reality TV. That’s what I’m into, at this moment. But in terms of big dramas, I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan. I’m also a huge Girls fan. I’m all over the place, really.
What got you into acting?
TORTORELLA: I started on stage when I was pretty young. At eight or nine, I did a show at Wilmette Children’s Theatre, which was The Wizard of Oz. From that point on, I stopped playing sports – I was playing hockey and lacrosse – and started working in Chicago theater. I worked at the Northlight Theater in Skokie, and the Mercury Theater on South Port. I actually did a show there for three years, called Over the Tavern. I studied at Goodwin and Steppenwolf. It was just an amazing city to be introduced to this world. It’s such a great middle point between L.A. and New York, and such an awesome starting place. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Would you ever be interested in doing something behind the scenes, like directing?
TORTORELLA: Yes, for sure, especially after working on The Following. We had so many amazing directors come in, and I’ve learned so much from just being in this industry for the short amount of time that I have been. Is it something that I want to do right away? No. I definitely want to stay in front of the camera and learn more from as many people as I can. Somewhere down the line, writing, directing and producing would be fantastic.
The Following airs on Monday nights on Fox, with the season finale on April 29th.