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Q) Please describe your character on "The Following."
A) Mike Weston is a Junior Field Agent for the FBI. The reason he is on the case, and the only reason, is because he did his thesis at Quantico on Joe Carroll. Joe Carroll is in jail and Ryan Hardy has retired. So, he wrote a thesis about this. I explain this as his idol because he worships the case and worships Ryan since he knows everything about Joe Carroll. All of a sudden it becomes real for him. Joe Carroll breaks out and they are like, "What do they do? We have this young agent that knows everything. He's an encyclopedia. He knows Poe. He knows Carroll. He knows Hardy." He is sort of brought into a case that is way over his head. By any other rights, he wouldn't probably wouldn't be brought into a high profile case like that because he's a young agent. All of a sudden, he is working with one of his heroes and to me that was what was fun about Mike Weston. I think there is a little bit of fun there with the hero worship and the other side of the character is that he wants to be respected. He has the intelligence and the knowledge to get Ryan Hardy to respect him. It's gushing and also feeling like he can add something to the case.
Q) Do you feel a parallel to that by getting to work with Kevin Bacon?
A) Yeah, I think there always a sense when you're working with an actor that you respect and have been watching for years that the first couple scenes you are thinking, "Oh my God! I'm working with Kevin Bacon!" I'm a big fan of his work. But that goes away pretty quickly. I think Kevin is a really down to Earth guy, very dedicated and very friendly. That goes away and you're just doing your job. I guess there is always that to a certain extent when you step on a set with someone that you've seen and watched for years.
Q) What sort of research did you have to do for this role?
A) I went to the Federal Building in Los Angeles and met with some FBI agents for a couple hours, which was really interesting. They were very helpful, but also (to a certain extent) you're an actor showing up with a pad and paper. To be honest, I really wish I had had a few days or a week with them because I am asking very personal questions like, "What was it like the first time you saw a dead body?" and "What do you do the first time you guys kick down a door?" I am not sure I got the most insight, but they were really nice guys to be around and get their vibe. I was asking how to deal with violence and how do they deal with - I don't want to say fear because I didn't really get a good sense of where they go or what they need to do to protect themselves in certain circumstances. But it was interesting being there with them and picking their brain. Also, I just went to YouTube and typed in "serial killers." I watched as much as I could. I watched a lot of court cases, too. To me, this show felt very real and very cinematic. I think when you're making a project, show or film about violence you can distance yourself very easily. I wanted to really think about the violence, how real that is and how scary that is. This show, in the pilot, it had that tension. I said, "I'm going to do as much research as I could and watch court cases of Dahmer." The real emotion of what these people do to other peoples' lives that is hard to capture unless you are watching the real people go through it. Watching the serial killers talk - the interviews are fascinating from Bundy to Richard Ramirez. These guys are incredibly intelligent and some of them are so cold. It's just fascinating. I think that's why Mike Weston is potentially interested in tracking these people down. It's because we want to know why. There is no answer, but we want to protect ourselves and our families. That's what I really realized watching these videos and researching - there is no reason. There is no satisfaction at the end of the case and trial. There is no satisfaction. Most of the time you don't know how many actual victims there were.
Q) What beyond the pilot are we going to learn about Mike Weston?
A) To be honest with you, we haven't started shooting the show yet. I'm still learning about that myself.
Q) Did you have any discussions with Kevin Williamson about your character?
A) Prior to the pilot we had discussions because this is the first television series I've done in a long time. Usually, for a film you need to know what you do, what you represent and what the arch is. I just wanted to be like, "I've got some ideas. I just wanted to be sure I'm running in the right direction." I think Mike is very focused on work. He's a young agent so he's just finished and he's very dedicated. With his personal life, I haven't given too much thought to because I think he's probably working. I think that's what he does. Again, as far as why he does it, a lot of the FBI guys I talked to had law enforcement in their family and studied law. It's just something they were interested in and didn't necessarily think they'd be kicking down doors and arresting serial killers. It just happened because of some of their interests and their studies. I think that's probably what happened to Mike. He's not an intellectual guy who will be the first through the door as a tactical guy. He's probably at a desk researching and happens to be thrown into this case by sheer coincidence that he happened to study it.
Q) What surprised you most about your time with the FBI agents?
A) There are different floors. There are white collar crimes, drugs and gangs, fugitive task forces, etc. The thing that surprised me the most was that everybody on each floor dressed differently. White collar guys looked like bankers, the drugs and gang unit looked like bikers and the fugitive guys were in hoodies and jeans and t-shirts. I said, "I thought you guys wear suits!" He said, "No! The banker guys downstairs wear suits. I wear whatever I want."