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James Purefoy The Following: “He takes a crochet hook into the belly of Ryan Hardy”

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James Purefoy The Following

At NYCC, James Purefoy, The Following, said his character Joe Carroll will be trying to find his way after almost being killed last season in a fire. In an exclusive interview, Purefoy said there is a lot more to Carroll then we might think.

Q: What’s going on with Carroll this season?

Purefoy: He takes a hard look at what he once was and what does he want to be, what does he want to do, what does he want to become and he has become something kind of extraordinary by the end of the season. 

Q: Will his main goal be not to take down Ryan Hardy anymore, is that one of the things he is questioning?

Purefoy: It’s not — I don’t think his goal was ever really to take down Ryan in terms of killing him. Killing him would be too easy or nice. What I have always said about him is that he takes a crochet hook into the belly of Ryan Hardy and just tugs on his intestines. That’s what he want’s to do for the rest of Ryan’s life. Just slow, painful torture.

Q: So that hasn’t changed?

Purefoy: No. I don’t think that will ever change. I don’t think that will ever change, I think that is what he wants to do with him is toy with him like a cat with a mouse for the rest of his life.

Q: So, there is a time jump in between season one and season two. So what’s Carroll’s journey?

Purefoy: Well, that’s it. The reset. We cut to a year later and we will see. One of the troubles about doing these round tables with you guys is that our show lives and dies by its surprises. You know? It’s a thriller. It’s a thriller you know, with not just a big thriller ending, but it’s a thriller where we are trying to thrill you every week. So by telling you pretty much anything we are sucking some of that away, which makes this kind of pointless [laughs]. I’m sorry! [laughs].

Q: Are you looking forward to toying with some of the new characters that are coming on?

Purefoy: Yes! We got some great new characters. They are really exciting and you know Connie who is fantastic. But yeah, I know that the FBI stuff last year came under a lot of flack. What would he do, what wouldn’t he do — the procedural aspect of FBI, which is frankly anticlimactic. This isn’t a documentary this is a drama. When we get a kicking, ‘Oh he would never go in there without backup,’ yeah well of course, obviously arse. [laughs]. But if he goes in there with the backup, the backup is going to kill the bad guys and we are going to finish in episode seven.

So that can’t work can it… if you want that then just go watch a reality TV show then because that is not the way it works in drama. Drama is always constantly being attacked by the press. Coming from England, we have shows set in hospitals. Every doctor and nurse loathes those shows set in hospitals because they are not real. Really? Go figure. Of course it’s not real. That is what you do with drama. You take liberties with the truth and you try to be as authentic as possible and then you serve the resulting pie to the public and hope they buy it. That’s the way it is. Having said that… we retooled the show slightly so that Ryan isn’t with the FBI all the time, which means he can go into places on his own without back up. All of that kind of stuff.

Q: We know that Emma’s all about Joe. But with his new path this season, does he even register her on his radar?

Purefoy: Oh yeah. Joe is all about Joe isn’t he? That’s the trouble. Sociopaths and serial killers like him — it’s like nothing he ever does is ever about anybody else but him. Everything is a manipulation for himself. One of the nice things about playing the part is that the audience already knows that and they watch somebody doing that to somebody else. So, it’s that kind of thing. There are lots of times in the new season where you will see me being very “kind” or “nice” to people and you will know what my ulterior motive is. Also, what the challenge is, what i have to achieve in this is, if you put yourself in that person’s shoes would you buy me being nice to you?

Q: Have you ever worried about being killed off the show, especially after reading the script for the finale last season?

Purefoy: Well, I spoke to Kevin [Williamson] about it. Also, you will see how he got out — you will see the way it worked. You will find that out.

Q: Will it be believable?

Purefoy: Yeah, believable enough…enough [laughs]. 

Watch James Purefoy, The Following, airing on FOX next year. 

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Monica Gleberman began writing in 2000. She has been published on CNN and in the Suffolk Times, Examiner, The Daily Collegian, Demand Studios, Patch, and The Tattoo.

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