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Interview with Michael Ealy of "The
It was great speaking with Michael! He's an amazing
actor. I'm way behind on watching this show, but I look
forward to seeing him on it. I still miss "Almost
FBC PUBLICITY: The Following Conference Call
March 26, 2015/12:00 p.m. PDT
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by.
Welcome to The Following Conference Call with Michael Ealy.
At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. We
will conduct a question and answer session; instructions
will be given at that time. (Operator instructions.) As a
reminder, this conference is being recorded.
I would now like to turn the conference over to our host,
Ms. Joanna Wolff, from Fox. Please go ahead.
Joanna: Thank you, and thank you, everyone, for joining The
Following Conference Call with Michael Ealy. As a reminder,
the show airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. And Iíll now turn it
over to Michael who will begin taking questions.
Moderator: And our first question comes from the line of
Jamie Ruby from
SciFiVision.com. Please go ahead.
Jamie: Hi, Michael, itís great to talk to you again.
Michael: Thank you, Jamie. How are you doing?
Jamie: Good. So at least where I've seen you, youíve mostly
played the good guys, so on The Following, it sounds like
your character is going to be pretty evil. Can you talk
about that, and also do you have a preference for whether to
play the good guy or the bad guy?
Michael: I think for me itís about showing range and
versatility, and when the opportunity to join The Following
came up, it was the first or second time I was given the
opportunity to actually play a villain. Youíre right, I have
played a lot of good guys, but itís a nice change. Itís a
really nice change of pace. I donít know if I prefer it so
much as I just enjoy being able to go back and forth.
Jamie: Okay, great. Since we havenít really seen it yet itís
hard to tell, but can you talk about some of the actors that
youíre going to be interacting with and your experience
working with them?
Michael: Well, yes. Itís, I think I work with almost everyone
in the show at some point or another.... In the first couple
of episodes, Theo is kind of on his own, really. You really
learn more and more about Theoís character and the
background, and some of the loose ends that he has to end,
to be honest with you, itís more about Theo in the first
couple of episodes. Yes.
Jamie: Okay. Thanks a lot.
Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Jamie
Steinberg from Starry Constellation Magazine. Please go
Jamie: Hi, itís such a pleasure to speak with you.
Michael: Hi, Jamie, how are you?
Jamie: Good, fellow Silver Spring resident. Itís nice to get
a chance to talk.
Michael: Indeed. Indeed.
Jamie: I was wondering, is there anything you added to Theo
that maybe wasnít originally scripted for you?
Michael: Theo. Is there anything that I added? I think for me
it was kind of daunting to walk onto the show knowing that
youíre going play a villain and the infamous Joe Carroll,
played by James Purefoy, was already a well-established
villain. And I think one of the things that I tried to do
that wasnít always scripted was try and steer away from
Joeís rhythm of speech and the clever banter back and forth.
I think Theo, I wanted to make Theo a bit more terrifying
and not be so, not go down the same path as Joe. I didnít
want him to be familiar to Joe and so I think I tried to
make him more scary.
Jamie: Well, the cast has such great chemistry as it is. What
was it like for you getting to join an already
Michael: You know, thereís always going to be some hesitation
in joining a pretty well-established cast because youíre
definitely going to feel like the new guy. Iíd say on this
particular show, this crew is so much fun to work with, and
so amazing that literally by day two I felt like I belonged
and I felt welcomed. And I felt like, okay, this is going to
be a fun ride, and it has been. Itís lived up to that hype.
Jamie: Lucky you, then.
Michael: I was lucky. I was definitely lucky for sure.
Jamie: Thank you so much for all of your time.
Michael: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Stacy
Glanzman from TV Fanatic. Please go ahead.
Stacy: Hi, thanks for talking to us today.
Michael: Hi. Thank you for having me.
Stacy: So Brett Mahony describes Theo as a chameleon. I was
wondering if you could elaborate on that?
Michael: Okay. Yes. Theo has the ability to morph into
various identities, both physically and logistically. So if
he takes on a different persona, or a different identity
rather, heíll change himself physically. Not like a
shape-shifter, okay, not like a shape-shifter or anything
like that, but with disguises and all that stuff. Even at
one point I think he wears contact lenses. We go through the
motions, he goes into full detail whenever he takes on an
identity to kill. I think itís his passion. And when he does
pursue his passion, he tends to morph into another identity
as opposed to killing just as Theo. And I think that, I
hope, makes it clear.
And in terms of logistics, he is a hacking genius. So all of
his paperwork, everything about him adds up and so it makes
him much more difficult to track because physically heís
transformed, and logistically heís transformed. I think
thatís what Brett is talking about when he says heís a
Stacy: Thanks. That sounds fascinating.
Moderator: And next question is from Suzanne Lanoue from
TVMegaSite. Please go ahead.
Suzanne: Good morning.
Michael: Good morning. How are you?
Suzanne: Great. Thanks. I really loved Almost Human and
Common Law, so itís great to talk to you.
Michael: Thank you so much, I appreciate it.
Suzanne: I have a two part question. The
first part is, have you finished filming for the season, or
are you still filming? And the second part is, how many
episodes are you in, can you tell us?
Michael: Itís kind of a two part question that asks the same
question. Yes. What I can say, I believe, is that I'm still
Michael: The second part, I cannot say.
Suzanne: Okay. Alright. Well, I hope youíll be in there a
good long time at least?
Michael: Yes. I'm substantial. I would say that I'm very
Suzanne: Good, good. Well, I look forward to it. Thank
Michael: I appreciate it. Thank you.
Moderator: And next, Jamie Ruby, from SciFiVision.com. Please
Jamie: Hi again. So I was curious, is there anyone that you
took inspirationó for this character from, or maybe research
that you did on this kind of character?
Michael: Yes. Obviously you look into certain serial killers
and you read up on these guys and the narcissism behind
them, and if anything, I kind of wanted to become somewhat
of an anti-serial killer. In that, unlike Joe, Theo does not
seek the glory, the fame, the followers. And thatís what I
think, this is where I kind of separated myself from most
serial killers. Theo does not seek out the glory and the
fame, he would rather be left alone and be able to fulfill
that blood-lust, under the radar.
At the same time he does possess some of the narcissist
qualities that other serial killers do have. But one of
things youíll see in the first episode that comes up on
Monday, is he doesnít necessarily embrace just one
particular style, or one signature. He has embraced them all
and he doesnít believe in limiting himself to just one
methodology or one signature, itís pretty disturbing in that
way. And at the same time kind of fascinating because he
ends up becoming more of a collective type of serial killer.
You know what I mean?
Jamie: Kind of. That makes it sound interesting though
because youíre right, normally that normally doesnít happen.
Did you find a particular challenge in this role compared to
others that youíve done?
Michael: Absolutely. I think the challenge was to try and
understand the character. Previous characters that Iíve
played, I've always been able to kind of identify with some
element, if not most of the elements of the character, not
only because theyíre good guys, but because of whatever it
is that theyíre searching for in life.
And what I found difficult about Theo was, I donít have a
blood lust, I donít have a desire to kill, and more
importantly, based on what Iíve read and doing research
about these guys and sociopaths in general, being born this
way is not something that can really be figured out or
explained. The idea that the difference between me and Theo
is just a genetic code is frightening. Itís kind of
frightening because technically I could be Theo if I just
had a different genetic code.
Michael: I wouldnít be an actor, Iíd just be Theo, and that
was frightening to me. But at the same time it was very
alluring and it also made me realize that I've got to find
something about the character that I identify with. And what
I found was, what I was mentioning earlier, this theory of
wanting to stay underneath the radar.
Oftentimes in my own career, I've chosen to stay underneath
the radar and protect my family, and protect myself prior to
having a family, and do my work, and retreat back into my
little bubble. Thatís harder to do nowadays in this
business, and so Theo wanting to not be Joe, not wanting
followers, not wanting the attention from the media. All of
that, I think was my ďinĒ for Theo.
Jamie: Great. Thank you so much.
Michael: Thank you.
Moderator: Our next question comes from Shonasee Shaver from
The Los Angeles Sentinel. Please go ahead.
Shonasee: Hi. I wanted to know, how was it working with Kevin
Bacon as Ryan Hardyís nemesis.
Michael: Kevin is an icon in the business, and his character
is, as you see this season, itís even more apparent this
season, that his character is so much closer to the
villainís than you think. You know what I mean? You think
heís an FBI guy, heís going to do the right thing.
We were talking about this on set the other day, and I was
like, ďYou know, I think Ryan might have a higher body count
than Theo or Joe.Ē He has, itís interesting the way the show
is set up, but I find that technically his character has
ended more lives than any of the villains on the show. Itís
something that nobody pays attention to it or thinks about.
Itís interesting because he does it as law enforcement, so
itís okay. But at the same time, make no mistake heís saving
lives. But at the same time, what does that do to a personís
spirit, to a personís soul over time? And I think youíre
going to see some of that from him this season, and heís
doing some wonderful work with Ryan and itís kind of
fascinating to watch him live, watch the character, Ryan
Hardy, live with these demons, and live these issues of
ending life constantly, and how many of those people stick
with you. I find it fascinating to think that the line
between good and evil is extremely thin. Itís extremely thin
and I think this show is a great indicator of just how thin
that line is.
Shonasee: Youíre both a film and TV actor, how do you choose
Michael: I tend to look for roles that have impact. I paid my
dues early on where I was just happy to be in the show or in
the movie. And at this point in my career I need to have
impact in the story I need to be focused upon, because
thatís the only way I can really impact the show.
To be able to come into this show and be the new big, bad
villain, that was an impactful role. And as I said before,
it was also a role that it took me a while, but eventually I
was able to find an ďinĒ and a connection with this
character and thatís always the challenge. You should always
challenge yourself as an actor to find the connection
between you and the character, and this one was probably one
of the most difficult times I've ever had finding the
Shonasee: Okay. Thank you very much.
Michael: Thank you.
Moderator: And our next question comes from the line of
Angela Evans from Diva Gals Daily. Please go ahead.
Angela: Hi, Michael.
Michael: Hi, Angela, how are you?
Angela: I'm doing great. I wanted to know, my two favorite
characters that you have ever played was, Tea Cake from
Their Eyes Were Watching God, and also I donít know what the
guyís name was, but the guy from For Colored Girls. Is there
a part or a person that you would want to play in the
future, like in a biopic?
Michael: Yes. I get this question from time to time and
hereís the thing, I canít say what that character is because
if I say it and you print it, then someone else goes out and
buys the rights and I donít get to play that person. But
yes, doing a biopic is definitely on the bucket list in
terms of my career to be able to wear the shoes of some
individual, whether theyíre known historically or not, would
be a joy for sure.
Angela: I think you would make a great Smokey Robinson and
I'm just throwing that out there. And also, one more
question. What would be something that someone would be
surprised to know about you other than youíre a talented
actor? Do you sing, do you play music, do you have an album?
Michael:; I do sing and I do play music, but none of it would
ever, ever qualify as music or singing. Does that make
sense? Thatís a joke. I love to sing, I love, love, love to
singó I just canít.
Michael: Itís kind of unbearable long-term. Although I can
hold certain notes, and my son actually likes it when I sing
Angela: Thatís awesome.
Michael: Yes. Thatís something that I donít share often. But
yes, I can hold a note, I just canít really sing like John
Legend can really sing. You know what I mean?
Michael: I can hold a note or two. And as far as playing
music is concerned, I'm really good with beating on a table
as like a drum beat.
Angela: Okay. Youíll be in the background.
Michael: Yes. I am the quisma [ph] of the beating on the
table. You know. I couldnít play a drum set to save my life,
but to count the count I'm awesome.
Angela: Thatís so awesome. And the last thing, Iíll make this
quick. You make a really convincing villain. How hard is it
for you to detox from that once youíve played that type of
person? Does it take you days, does it take you hours? Or do
you just have to take a week off because it was just so
Michael: You know, itís an interesting question. It was
actually one of my concerns before taking the role, was how
dark am I going to get with this, and what is that going to
mean to me in terms of detoxing when the time is right? You
know, I think thatís one of lifeís beautiful lessons in
terms of having a family. They tend to yank you out of
whatever youíre in and force you to deal with real life. It
kind of wakes you up and you realize I'm playing pretend
here. As convincing as it is, I'm playing pretend. And like
a dirty diaper, something that Theo would never, ever deal
with. So it makes you, it almost instantly snaps me out of
that, and so thatís been very helpful in terms of not
staying too dark.
And at the same time, this crew is so amazing, but theyíre
also very used to this dark world so they have jokes, they
keep it light on set. You canít stay too serious about it
all day because we keep it pretty light on set, on The
Following for sure.
Angela: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Michael: Youíre welcome. Thank you.
Moderator: And at this point, I think Iíll turn the call back
over to Joanna Wolff.
Joanna: Thank you so much. Thank you, Michael, for taking the
time and I appreciate everyone joining the call today. As a
reminder, Michaelís first episode is this Monday 9 p.m. on
Have a great day, everyone.
Michael: Thank you.
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude our
conference for today. Thank you for your participation and
for using AT&T Executive TeleConference. You may now
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