Warning: if you’re not caught up on ‘The Following,’ major plot points are discussed. Read at your own risk.
‘The Following’ is one show that’s captured viewers from the beginning and continues to do so every episode with murders, sociopaths, major deaths, Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy and characters, like twins Mark (with bangs) and Luke (slicked back hair).
Enter the extremely talented English actor Sam Underwood as said twins. That’s right. He doesn’t just play one creepy, twisted, villainous male (who the audience can’t get enough of), but he plays two killers following in Joe Carroll’s bloody footsteps.
Underwood was nice enough to chat with me about the hit FOX thriller, what it’s like playing twins, Mark and Emma’s relationship, and when he found out Connie Nielsen would be playing his onscreen mother.
TVRage: What is it like playing twins? Is it exhausting? Do you enjoy it?
Sam Underwood: Playing twins, and playing these two specific twins, it’s the most dutiful challenge from an acting standpoint ever. I feel very, very blessed to have this opportunity to play these two people. They’re very unique, and individual as well, having a very fascinating relationship as identical
twins do. No, I don’t find it [exhausting]. If it’s exhausting, then I don’t see that.
TVRage: I read that you didn’t you know right off the bat that you’d be playing twins, so what was your reaction when you found out?
Underwood: Well, no, I didn’t know I was playing twins at first. It wasn’t until I got into the screen test with Kevin Williamson [creator of ‘The Following’] in the room, when they revealed the secret to me. First of all, it made total sense to me, in terms of the material I had to read. Again, playing two specific characters and getting the opportunity to work with the director of photography of shooting in … all that crazy technology in how they do what they do in this show -- that was as intriguing to me as the exploration of the character was. Just a very exciting prospect.
TVRage: One of the qualities I enjoy so much about Luke is he can be frightening and funny all at once. You see this psychotic person, but then you find yourself laughing at him. He has some of the greatest lines. What do you enjoy so much about Luke and Mark?
Underwood: I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. … This season, what Kevin Williamson has done is put a little bit of that dark humor into the show, which gives the audience a moment to breathe, amongst all the very dark and intense psychological events going on in the show. So, that’s what I really love exploring in these guys.
TVRage: The twins have extremely disturbing moments, like dancing with the dead, eating dinner with their victims, and setting up these real-life, but twisted scenarios. Will we get a deeper understanding as to why Luke and Mark are the way they are?
Underwood: Yes, absolutely. As the season goes on, you’ll absolutely find out more about their history, where they come from, their idea of family, and how and why family is so important to them. I think what these first couple of episodes are really about is establishing these two very new characters into the [core] of ‘The Following.’ We already know Mike Weston [Shawn Ashmore], Ryan Hardy [Bacon], Joe Carroll [Purefoy], and Emma Hill [Valorie Curry]. … Again, as the season goes on you find a more human quality in them, which Kevin did so well with the other characters.
TVRage: Speaking of family, this past episode we learned that Lily (Connie Nielsen) is loyal to Joe and mother to Luke and Mark. Did you always know she’d be playing your mother?
Underwood: I was told at the very first scene that I got to rehearse, [which] was the subway murder scene, in Episode 1. Marcos [Siega], the director, came up to me and whispered in my ear, “By the way you need to treat Lily like this, because ... you don’t actually mean to do her too much bodily harm, because, by the way, she’s actually your mother.” (laughs)
TVRage: What was your reaction when he told you that?
Underwood: I was fascinated to see how. He didn’t give me any of the backstory, as to where these people come from and what they’re after. So, it was just that one nugget of information. I was left to kind of fantasize about [all the possibilities], like what’s next in store for them, or what’s the big plan. I was just very excited. Every time a new script comes in for this season, for the show particularly, there’s always a surprise, there’s always a twist, … and you’re also skipping to the end of the episode to see “wait, am I still alive at the end of this one?”
TVRage: Judging from the promos, it looks like this coming Monday we’ll get to see into the relationship between Mark, Luke and Lily. What can you tell me about their relationship, without giving too much away, because this clearly isn’t your typical family?
Underwood: Sure, I won’t give too much way, but there is definitely a huge difference in dynamics between Luke and Lily’s relationship and Lily and Mark’s relationship. Again, the way that plays out in that storyline, as the season goes on, is really, really fascinating. … It will all be revealed very, very shortly.
TVRage: For me, the promo gave off an incestuous vibe between Luke and Lily. Am I way off, or you can comment on that at all?
Underwood: If that’s your interpretation, then that’s absolutely wonderful. I’ll leave that up to your mind to play around with, until you can see more.
TVRage: Lastly, what’s ahead for Mark and Emma? There’s obviously something there, whether it be romantic, or an infatuation, or an admiration, there’s something there, especially on Mark’s end.
Underwood: The thing about Mark, in regards to this whole Joe Carroll/Havenport event, is he sees this whole thing as he’s a celebrity. Joe Carroll’s a celebrity. And, Emma Hill is a celebrity. He’s wildly, wildly fascinated by these people. So, when the opportunity comes to meet Emma Hill face to face, it’d be like me getting -- actually I wouldn’t act the same as Mark does -- it’d be like me meeting Christian Bale. … There’s definitely that, and as the relationship between Mark and Emma goes on … it may grow into something else, it may not, but it’s definitely just a huge celebrity crush.
‘The Following’ airs Mondays at 9/8c on FOX.