Tonight, The Following wraps up its first season with "The Final Chapter," closing the book on a number of mysteries (and probably characters). But knowing creator Kevin Williamson (and we do), he'll leave us with just as many questions and cliffhangers, especially with a madman like Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) calling the shots.
To get you guys some scoop on the finale, we chatted with the ringleader of this serial killer circus, Purefoy, to adequately prepare everyone for what will surely be a season ending we'll be talking about for days after the credits roll:
What has the experience been like for you getting in the mind of the brilliant but crazy Joe Carroll?
James Purefoy: Absolutely f--king mad! Mad, mad, mad. I was reading the other day someone who was criticizing Joe Carroll 'cause even as a serial killer he didn't have any consistency. I laughed out loud at that statement, because at least serial killers have consistency. It's hilarious. One of the things about Joe is that he's mad, he's absolutely f--king mad. He's theatrical and sort of like an actor in that sense, that he puts on a front, he puts on the costume, if you like. And especially earlier in the season he put on the costume of someone who was really calm, collected and controlled. Of course that covers up an absolute volcano of feelings or power issues and self-respect, all the things that go into making a serial killer, that are bubbling like lava below the surface. So I think some people find it hard to get a grip on that, and I think that's because most people are normal and are unable to see the inner workings of a madman, because it's disturbing and very difficult to understand.
Now let's talk about the finale.
What I do know is that at the end of the finale, if you have any shortness-of-breath issues, you're going to need your puffer on the couch next to you. The story with Agent Parker is particularly gripping. One of the things is, I don't actually know what happens at the end of the season. That's my other problem, 'cause people keep asking me and I go, 'Well, there are lots of different endings.'
So you guys shot different endings?
Kevin Williamson is a very mischievous little imp, and he told us that some people are going to die and others didn't. And then those people were told other people were going to die. I know that I had to do some ADR a couple of days ago in London which would have spun the story off in a completely different direction. But whether that's Kevin Williamson making sure that he has an insurance policy [or that] I just shot my mouth off and have told you guys something that I shouldn't. Who knows?
Kevin is very tricky like that. Anything you can tell us for sure about the finale?
I do know that obviously there's going to be a confrontation. There has to be a confrontation between Ryan (Kevin Bacon) and Claire (Natalie Zea) and Joe, between the three of them. Something has to happen there. I can't obviously tell you what, though it's explosive—both literally and figuratively. It's exciting, the story Is going to get wrapped up to a certain degree, but let's not kid ourselves, Williamson is going to want to keep all the metaphorical hooks in the audience now to drag them into the next season. I don't think he's going to wrap everything up, but I think I'm not even sure that Kevin Bacon isn't expendable. I think everyone in the show is expendable to a certain degree.
Speaking of Kevin Bacon, you guys work so well together.
It's just as you see it. It's two actors having a really good time. We do have a really good time, and I have enormous respect for Kevin, I think he's a really great actor. You know, I've been enjoying watching Kevin's performances ever since I was a boy; I don't know how old he is. [Laughs]. Is he 95?
He looks like he's 25.
I mean, I've been watching him all my life and he looks like he's 25. What is his damn secret?! He's a very, very charming man, and he's very smart and quietly works away and is really good at what he does. He's very prepared for all things, and you know it's been a great pleasure, a real great pleasure working with him.
What do you think Joe cares most about: Claire? Joey? His story?
Joe Carroll cares most about himself. I'm afraid to say, like all truly narcissistic, crazed, egomaniacal people, it's himself. Joe is all about Joe, and that's not a very attractive thing, but that's the truth.
The Following's season finale airs tonight on Fox.