One of the most compelling aspects of "The Following" (Mondays at 9 p.m. EST on Fox) has been the unexpected -- and undeniably twisted -- love triangle that has developed between Paul (Adan Canto), Jacob (Nico Tortorella) and Emma (Valorie Curry), three of Joe Carroll's (James Purefoy) most loyal followers.
There's seemingly nothing that these three won't do for their mentor -- including kidnapping his son, Joey -- but things are going to get a whole lot darker for the trio in tonight's episode, titled "Mad Love."
HuffPost TV sat down with Adan Canto to discuss the compelling dynamic between the three psychopaths, whether we'll dip into Paul's past, and how it feels to inhabit the mind of a killer. Light spoilers below.
Things have steadily been growing more tense in the house with Paul, Emma and Jacob -- it seems like a powder keg waiting to erupt. What can you preview about what's coming up for the three of them?
Well, it gets very messy. Paul is a very passionate, loving guy and in order to find his place, he goes through whatever he has to do to find his peace. That’s his paradox -- he doesn’t care, he would just do whatever he needs to do. And after stepping out of the reality he had with Jacob’s character when they lived together for three years, he lost his structure and he lost his place and now in comes Emma, and that’s where the whole dilemma begins. We’re all swimming in the same direction, it’s just that he lost lost place and now he has this girl calling the shots and telling him what to do, and he doesn’t like that and that’s when things start to rattle and things get all funky along the way. After Episode 4, it gets messy when you have three psychos living under the same roof -- expect the unexpected.
Emma and Paul's dynamic is particularly interesting because there's so much antagonism and suspicion and jealousy there. It all seems to stem from their separate relationships with Jacob. How will things progress between the two of them in upcoming episodes?
First, they had something going on before, you can see that in Episode 2. But I think we all play a very important role with everybody. He plays an important role for Emma just as she plays an important role for him and it’s like a co-dependent kind of relationship all around. So it’s inevitable, after the pushing and pulling, that Emma and Paul have to come together if they want to make this happen. If they want to pull through, what they want to do is what Joe wants them to do, which is the main thing.
We've seen a little of Emma's history and "Mad Love" shows us a bit of Jacob's past. Are we going to see Paul's backstory sometime soon?
Absolutely, and it gets very, very interesting. You kind of understand this guy. It’s so interesting to me when I read these scripts. I mean, if we want to talk about extremes, it’s this guy. You see him do just gruesome things out of his upbringing; you see him do these horrible things, but then you are like, "Well, that’s why he does it." Because he had a terrible upbringing or he lacked certain things and now that he’s found love or support, he feels free to just be [himself]. And [what we see in Episode 4], that's just the tip of the iceberg. Wait and see what’s going to happen afterwards.
What is Paul's relationship with Joe like?
Joe is my role model, and he represents the father figure Paul probably never had. And he clings onto this -- this is his flag, his faith and his life, pretty much, so that’s why he’s so passionate to do whatever it takes. Even if it means sacrificing my own life; that would be like martyrdom for me.
Did you know all of the crazy stuff that was in store for Paul when you auditioned, or did you only have the pilot as a clue?
We knew for certain the pilot, because we’d read it. Every other scene we’d get were dummy scenes so we’d do the dummy scenes over and over again. This was my first experience with the whole pilot season thing. I just moved back into the States in January. I used to live in LA before. I lived in Mexico City for five years, did some theater there and then decided to go back January last year and this unfolded quite fast. So it’s a very interesting experience, very humbling too. It’s kind of like, it’s all good and well and I feel very fortunate, but at the same time, it’s a huge responsibility and that’s what I was very passionate about: giving back to these things that were happening.
There aren't many bisexual characters on TV these days -- networks seem very delineated about the labels applied to each role. Does Paul label himself as gay or bi, or is he just attracted to these people as kindred spirits, regardless of gender?
Absolutely. I don’t think he considers the sex or anything else for that matter. He just considers empathy, shelter, comfort, love and support, like minds. Once he finds that, it doesn’t matter. I mean, he just goes with it. He doesn’t label himself. I even remember there are a couple of scenes about that. And he laughs about labeling. He thinks it’s a primitive thing to do.
How did you research this role to help you inhabit the mind of a killer?
I read a lot about it, but in the end, I always landed on the whole trigger: What motivates these people? What’s the common denominator? And what I found is the common denominator is usually this void that stems from a lacking of some sort, from age 0 to 3, 0 to 7 or something like that. And the kinds of things that develop in your psyche and how you search out things to feel complete, somehow.
You want to fill this void and it doesn’t matter what you do to fill it -- it’s horrible, it’s like anxiety. You can’t live with it so you fill it up with instant gratification, even though you know it’s just instant gratification and then you keep searching for it. You’re hooked. It’s your fix ... And then I always had a fascination for people and their motivations and how it is that they end up being a certain person with certain characteristics or what it all entails, and I’ve always loved to read about philosophy and psychology and this is a great arena to put all of that in practice with this particular goal.
Did you get to contribute any ideas about Paul's backstory yourself in conversations with Kevin Williamson?
Yeah, we had discussions. We absolutely did, and at the same time, they gave us the freedom once we got the gist of the character ... At the end of the day, it’s whatever helps you fill their shoes, whatever helps you deliver real life and so, yes, there is a contribution all around from everybody.
I love what James Purefoy has said about these followers: They really don't need any motivation or manipulation to do the terrible things that they do; they're just looking for an excuse ...
The right justification, the right reasons and this is a very poetic, kind of artistic way of a philosophy of life. So yeah, you don’t have to convince somebody that wants to do something. You just tell them, “Hey, [this is okay].”
How easy do you find it to let go of all the darkness you're playing in these scenes. Is it something that lingers after you wrap for the day?
It could. I used to be very bad at this and now I’ve gotten better at letting go. Once they say cut, it’s fine. But there were nights where I just went back home and I could only sleep for a couple of hours. I was wired up and I slept for a couple hours and I’d work the next day and I would always find a 30-minute moment for a nap and keep working. But yeah, I totally let go. It’s something totally separate from me. You do learn a lot from every character you do, but fortunately, I’m not apprehensive, at least I don’t think so. We’ll find out in a few years if I’m still alive. We’ll see what happens. [Laughs.]
"The Following" airs Mondays at 9 p.m. EST on Fox.
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