Shawn Ashmore is seeing red in 'The Following'
(CBR) Warning: This story contains spoilers for recent episodes of Fox’s "The Following".
FBI Agent Mike Weston finally has been pushed too far.
Over the course of Fox’s intense thriller "The Following", he and former agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) have witnessed disturbing violence and gruesome deaths at the hands of psychopathic killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) and his minions. However, with the recent episode “Sacrifice,” those actions truly hit home.
Spurned Carroll supporter Lily (Connie Nielsen) visited Mike’s father and gleefully ordered her sadistic son Mark (Sam Underwood) to slit his throat. The horrifying act was captured on video and sent to Mike to watch. Now the devastated agent, played by Shawn Ashmore, has just one thing on his mind: revenge.
Best known for portraying Iceman in the X-Men movie franchise, Ashmore spoke with Spinoff Online by phone from "The Following’s" New York City set about murder, Mike’s downward spiral and back half of Season 2.
Spinoff Online: Mike hasn’t been doing so well in Season 2. What have you enjoyed about taking him down this dark path?
Shawn Ashmore: What I think is most amazing about Mike this season, and really for this character in general on the show, is how huge his character arc has been. Where we started in the pilot with Mike, to where we are now, is a full 180. Obviously as an actor, it’s very satisfying to get to play the range of a character. That’s what is fun about it, to be honest. It’s not the easiest work in the world to continuously bring Mike to this dark place and push the limits to how far he can fall, but it’s really satisfying crafting a character that has such a huge arc.
[Series creator] Kevin Williamson has given me a real gift in that Mike really mirrors the journey Ryan Hardy took. We find Ryan Hardy in the pilot episode already beaten down, already an alcoholic and already jaded by this case and what this kind of profession can do to a man. The opposite is true for Mike. We actually see his descent and journey.
The murder of Mike’s father was intense. Can you talk about your reaction to that development and tapping into the raw emotion needed for the scene?
I knew one way or the other Mike was going to lose someone very close to him this season. At the beginning of the season, there were talks of Mike having a fiancé and that was the character he was going to lose. That storyline sort of disappeared and then it developed into Mike’s father. Again, it’s Kevin Williamson wanting to push Mike to the boundaries. When I heard about that, I wondered where Mike could have gone after losing someone like this. Not just lost a family member, but right in front of his eyes, basically. That’s the kind of show we’re working on. The more intense the events, the more intense we can make these characters. Ultimately, I hope the audience will continue to support these characters. When you’ve spent 30 hours with the character, you really get to like them and love them sometimes. The reaction has been great from people that are really supporting Mike when he lost his dad.
As far as emotion, I try to create the worst scenario I could possibly imagine in my mind, which we all do in some way or another. We all have those stories where we think someone we know is sick, or has been in an accident and you jump to the worst conclusion. We can all fathom the idea of losing someone close, if we haven’t already, like if somebody you loved passed away. As an actor, I try to recreate that feeling of dread that we all experience as we go through life with the people we love, the scares that we have or the actual loss we’ve had to go through. That was basically it. I just imagine the worst thing that could possibly happen to somebody and then funnel that into the scene and bring the emotion to the surface.
What is Mike willing to do in the name of revenge?
Honestly, at this point, I think Mike is willing to do whatever it takes. Last year, Mike and Ryan were officially part of the FBI task force and were playing by the rules, especially Mike. There are a lot of constraints when working with a government agency like the FBI, but Ryan was willing to do whatever it takes. He would stick his finger in that gun hole of one of the followers to torture them if that would get him information. Mike was straddling the line. He knew that Ryan was the only guy who could catch Joe Carroll the first time around. If his methods were a little unorthodox or a little violent, Mike was willing to turn his head and ignore it, but not necessarily participate. Whereas now, Mike is willing to do whatever it takes. We saw two episodes ago he almost beat one of the sinister twins to death because he could. He’s definitely suffering from a form of PTSD. He’s had his life threatened. People that he’s loved have been killed. He’s been tortured. A lot has happened to him and there is a form of PTSD that I think Mike is living with and that was unleashed. Now, especially that his father is dead, Mike is willing to do whatever it takes. Revenge is first and foremost on his mind.
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