'The Following' Exclusive Interview: Shawn Ashmore Previews the Intense Thriller
'The Following' Exclusive Interview: Shawn Ashmore Previews the Intense Thriller
Carla Day
Carla Day
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Have you been waiting for a truly suspenseful drama to hit network television? Your wait is over. FOX's The Following is an intense and at times gut-wrenching thriller about a serial killer, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), that breaks out of prison to continue to wreak havoc.

Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) was the FBI agent that initially caught Carroll when nobody else could. No longer with the FBI, Hardy is called back to help track down Carroll again. He is assisted by FBI Agent Mike Westen (Shawn Ashmore), who has studied Hardy's book and original investigation.

Ashmore spoke with BuddyTV about the intricacies of his character, Mike's role in the investigation, and his relationship with Ryan Hardy.

The Following has been the most buzzed about show since the pilot season, now that it is airing finally, are you more anxious or excited about the premiere?

Ashmore: I'm excited for people to finally see it. I think that for an audience to watch this show week-to-week is kinda like watching a one hour movie. I feel like the show is very cinematic. It delivers hugely on thrills, character development and twists and turns. I'm just excited for people to get hooked and honestly, from the second I read this show, I knew it was going to be unique and different and exciting for people to watch.

Mike has studied Joe Carroll in an academic way for years, how does he transition that knowledge into the the investigation? 

Obviously, Ryan knows Joe and this case better than anybody, but in the pilot when Ryan comes back he's a little bit rusty. I think Mike brings a new set of eyes to the case and this isn't necessarily the reason that Mike was a part of the case, but I think Mike supports Ryan.

He doesn't judge Ryan the way most of the FBI judges him, so the academia, being able to understand Poe, to be able to bounce ideas back and forth with Ryan and Agent Parker is where the study of the case comes in. 

Is this investigation a dream come true for Mike, despite the horrible circumstances surrounding the case?

Oh yeah. Absolutely. When Mike was studying this case at Quantico and writing his theses about it, it was in the distant past. Joe had been locked up for years, Ryan wasn't even part of the FBI any more. So, yeah, all of sudden he gets to be brought in and actually work next to his hero. Ryan is definitely a rock star of an FBI agent for catching Joe Carroll the first time. The most notorious guy of the last 25 years probably.

It's not always a pleasant picture, Mike gets put through his paces on this case in many different ways: emotionally, physically, all that stuff, but again for a young agent this is the biggest case the FBI has. This is kinda a career maker. and not only that, he gets to work with a guy that he looks up to so I think it's definitely a dream come true for Mike. 

Joe Carroll has his following of disciples, but Ryan Hardy has his own sort of following with people such as Mike. Is Mike as dedicated to Ryan as Carroll's people are to him, if in a different manner?

I don't quite think that Mike is as dedicated to Ryan, I think Mike is dedicated to the case. He obviously really looks up to Ryan and trusts his instinct, but it's a completely different relationship. Joe Carroll's followers are missing something that Joe fulfills, I don't think that Mike is necessarily missing something. 

The relationship that happens between Ryan and Mike is something that is built and they bond through experience. Ryan clearly isn't as eager to be friends with Mike as Mike is with Ryan, but Mike earns that respect as the show progresses. So, it's a completely different relationship, but I guess there are some similarities in the fact that these guys end up relying on each other just like Joe Carroll relies on his followers. 

Does Mike worry that Ryan could get caught up in Joe Carroll since Ryan has a drinking problems and is all alone? Does Mike play the role of a sounding board and check point for him?

Well, Mike is concerned with Ryan's well-being, but I don't think that Mike is afraid that Ryan will go to the dark side with Joe. I do think that he's worried that Ryan will wear himself out, burn himself out, and potentially be killed on the case because he's so close to this.

Joe Carroll is physically, emotionally, and psychologically trying to torture Ryan Hardy. Mike is certainly concerned with what that will do to Ryan, but there doesn't seem to be any other way to deal with it whether anyone likes it or not. At the beginning the FBI certainly doesn't want Ryan around to the extent that he is, but Joe Carroll holds all the cards at this point and he demands that Ryan be a part of this story. There's no getting around it that Ryan's going to have to interact with Joe and the case to his detriment and I think Mike's very aware of that and is concerned but there's not much he can do.

The Following premieres Monday, January 21 at 9 pm ET on FOX.

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