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Interview with Brett Mahoney, Executive
Producer of "The Following" on FOX 2/24/15
FBC PUBLICITY: The Following Conference Call
February 24, 2015/11:30 a.m. PST
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by.
Welcome to The Following Conference Call. At this time all
lines are in a listen-only mode. Later 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,
Joanna Wolff. Please go ahead.
Joanna: Thank you. Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining The
Following Conference Call with Executive Producer, Brett
Mahoney. The third season of The Following premieres Monday,
March 2nd at 9:00 p.m. on Fox.
As a reminder the first two episodes are up on our screening
room and additional information and photos are on our press
website, foxflash.com. Now, I will turn it over to Brett,
who will be taking questions. Thank you so much.
Brett: Hi, everybody. Iím very excited and thank you for your
interest in the show. Weíre really excited about Season 3.
Moderator: (Operator instructions.) Our first question comes
from the line of Christine Smith from Fox.com. Please go
Christine: Hi, Brett. Thanks so much for taking the time. We
really appreciate it.
Brett: No problem. Iím glad that youíre interested in the
Christine: Yes, Iíve seen the first two episodes and I love
them and Iím really excited about the season so far.
Brett: Thank you so much.
Christine: Of course. I know that you wrote for the show last
season and now youíre an executive producer. I was just
curious what the changes have been like so far this season.
Brett: The changes for me or the changes in the show?
Christine: The changes in your role and also, I guess, the
changes in the show.
Brett: The changes for me in my role, theyíve just expanded
and increased greatly and I must say that I should have had
an idea of what the job was prior to it. I saw Kevin
Williamson do it. I was a co-executive producer on the show
last year, but now sitting here with my co-showrunners,
Alexi Hawley and Marcos Siega, I just now am aware how much
and how big of a job it is where every decision, every
choice thatís made comes down to us.
Itís a thousand decisions a day, but itís also the privilege
of, itís our creative vision that weíre putting forward and
getting out there on the screen so thatís also very
Christine: Great. And then also, can you tease anything for
the season? What are you most excited about thatís coming
Brett: What Iím pretty excited about is we are coming to the
close of the Joe Carroll chapter and when we looked at that
and thatís so challenging in the sense that Joe Carroll was
such a pivotal part of the show, but what it gave us an
opportunity to do is sort of shift focus and go back to a
great asset that we had in the show in terms of Kevin Bacon
and really making the show more Ryan Hardy-centric and more
focused on our hero.
And I think weíve done that pretty successfully and really
found some great character stuff for him and really sort of
just framed the show more around him and thatís been great.
Christine: Thatís great. Canít wait to see the rest of the
Brett: Thank you.
Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Jamie
Ruby from SciFiVision.com. Please go ahead.
Jamie: Thanks for talking to us today. I really loved the
first two episodes as well.
Brett: Oh, thank you so much.
Jamie: Iím not sure if you can give me specifics. I was going
to ask about the Theo villain if you could talk about that.
And, if not, can you at least talk a bit about kind of the
other threats weíre going to see this season?
Brett: The Theo villain will be someone who is based on, we
will find that heís a character that sort of comes from the
mythology of the show and he has a place in it and based
upon events that happen and stuff that was set up in the
previous season, he comes to light and he comes out of the
shadows and becomes a significant threat to Ryan Hardy.
Itís sort of a villain we really havenít seen on the show
thus far and I hope people will be intrigued by him and
scared by him and itís a Michael Ealy that we really have
not seen thus far. I was working with him on the first day
that he shot and I was pretty amazed and a little bit scared
myself. And heís charismatic and heís also a chameleon and
he has many different identities and thatís a little tidbit
about who he is.
Jamie: Then switching gears, can you talk a bit about Ryan
and Gwenís relationship and how itís going to affect the way
Ryan does moving forward?
Brett: Yes, absolutely. I think that Ryanís challenge for
this season, when we looked at it, is can Ryan have a life;
a) what is Ryan like once Joe Carroll is put in prison, so
once that is put to bed can he actually go on and have a
normal life and what are the challenges to that?
And then Gwen sort of represents that life outside of the
FBI. He is truly in love, and itís a healthy relationship.
Itís the first time weíve seen him in this type of
relationship. The question is does he feel that heís worthy
in terms of does he deserve this and can it work?
Jamie: Great. Thank you so much.
Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Meredith
Jacobs from Examiner.com. Please go ahead.
Meredith: Hi, thanks for being here today.
Meredith: Can you talk about Mikeís journey from Season 1 to
now? Because now heís more like Ryan than Ryan is.
Brett: Did you say heís more like Ryan than Ryan is?
Meredith: Thatís what Kevin Bacon has said, yes, that Mike is
the stalker now because of the events of last season.
Brett: Thatís absolutely true and heís in a very similar
situation to Ryan in terms of how much is he willing to give
up for revenge. And that obsession with revenge, what does
that mean in terms of the rest of his life? And so, when we
see him, when we pick him up in this season we will flash
back to the choice he made in terms of he could have stayed
with Max and had a relationship with her, or he made the
choice to go and search and try and find Mark. He kind of
gave up the chance to have a normal relationship because of
his obsession with revenge and that has taken him to some
darker places than weíve seen him previously and it sort of
colored who he is and thatís his struggle for this season.
Meredith: How is the dynamic between Ryan and Mike going to
be different then?
Brett: I think Ryan is taking responsibility this season in
terms of Ė and I think this is sort of what he was doing at
the end of last season when he chose not to shoot Joe
Carroll Ė that he saw that he was leading Mike, and even Max
to some extent, down a dark path and heís trying to avoid
that and trying to keep him from it and now he sees Mike
going down that same path and heís trying to pull him away
from it based upon his own experiences.
Whereas Mike sees him as sort of a hypocrite in saying you
would have done the same thing. You were basically doing
everything I did so who are you to judge me? Itís sort of
like we actually take them to a place in this season where
they have conflict and anger and arguments that we really
have not seen previously.
Meredith: Okay, great. Thanks. I loved the first two
Brett: Iím sorry, what?
Meredith: I said I also loved the first two episodes like
Brett: Oh, thank you so much.
Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Christine
Piccolo from Blogcritics. Please go ahead.
Christine: Hi, thank you so much for chatting with us. Iím a
huge fan of the show.
Brett: Oh, great.
Christine: Yes, and I loved the first two episodes. Iíve just
Brett: Thank you so much.
Christine: You had mentioned that the show has been sort of
focused more on Ryan Hardy, kind of our hero. Where did
Kevin Bacon see the character going when you were planning
Brett: Oh, thatís an interesting question. I think that
really Kevin Bacon is really interested in having, in terms
of when we pitched him and we talked about stuff for the
character, he really was interested in doing meaty,
interesting character-driven stuff. So, when we pitched him
that we were going to be focused more on his character and
focused on what it means for him in terms of what his
obsession costs him and the challenges of would he be able
to have a normal relationship, would he be able to create a
sort of family environment he was excited about it.
Christine: I think itís going to be really interesting to see
him being in a healthy relationship and then Mike going down
sort of the dark path.
Brett: Absolutely. Now, that said, it wonít be easy for Ryan
and, of course, heís going to be tempted to go down a dark
Christine: Oh, okay. What did Shawn think about the path that
Mike is going to take this season?
Brett: Yes, I think Shawn was very excited about it and I
think he saw it as sort of like a natural progression.
Christine: Yes, I think so, too. Can I ask you, Sam Underwood
is fantastic., by the way.
Brett: He sure is, heís great.
Christine: And I love that heís talking to his brother now.
Brett: Heís a special kind of crazy.
Christine: Yes, I think so. Now Mark is a bigger pawn in this
whole thing it seems. Can you tell me more about that?
Brett: Certainly from the first episodes you get the idea
that whereas Mark thinks heís driving things that there is
some ultimate larger conspiracy that heís a part of and that
heís being used as a tool. But I will say that Mark and
Luke, because itís still both of them together, they are not
stupid, so I donít know how long Mark would actually allow
himself to be used.
Christine: Okay, interesting. Well, thank you so much. Iím
really looking forward to the rest of the season.
Brett: Sure. Thank you very much.
Moderator: Next we have Aprille Meek from KRIV Fox 26
Houston. Please go ahead.
Aprille: Hi, and just to join the whole group, yes the first
two episodes were fabulous.
Brett: Oh, great. Thank you. Did they surprise you in any
Aprille: I really liked the beginning of the second season
because you start to be a little hopeful for Ryan and then,
of course, life is not good for him. Itís that same, oh,
Ryan has a shot at something good and then youíre like, oh
rats, how long will this last? Because you do want him to be
I was really excited to hear you say that because that means
weíre going to see more of that opportunity for him in this
Brett: Absolutely. And I think also what weíve managed to do,
which is something we tried to do last season as well, which
we werenít necessarily able to do, but I think we have been
able to do it this season is have character beats and down
moments for Ryan throughout the season. Once weíre on the
thrill ride of catching our bad guys, whatever, we still
have managed to have an opportunity for him to have
character beats and character moments and character
development throughout the season, so weíre excited about
Aprille: Thatís great. And I know just listening from the
things heís said in other interviews I know heís excited
about that, too. Were you the lead writer on the first
Brett: Alexi and I wrote that together.
Aprille: Together. How is it transitioning, because when you
wrote it you were still a writer, you werenít the
Brett: Oh no, when I became co-showrunner with Alexi and
Marcos everything that had gone on before was scrapped. I
was actually on Stalker for the first few months of the
season before I was brought back to The Following.
Aprille: Oh, okay. So, you get to start all over as your boss
as a writer.
Aprille: That sort of gave you like a brand new, not a
palette so much because you have colors you have to keep,
but it gave you a new canvas to work with.
Brett: Whatís great about the show, in general, is that every
season it kind of gets an opportunity recreate itself, so I
think the second season was very different than the first.
Now, this season we had an even bigger, larger canvas to
fill because we had definitively decided that we were
closing out the Joe chapters, so it was even larger and more
exciting and there were more and different things that we
could, but staying, of course, within the world and still
painting with the colors that the show has grown accustomed
to, but we were able to do some new and different stuff we
were excited about.
Aprille: Thatís very exciting. Are you writing other episodes
for this season?
Brett: Yes, and Alexi and our voice is throughout the entire
season. We wrote one together and then I wrote six and he
wrote ten and then weíre going to write the finale together.
Aprille: Great, thatís wonderful. Really awesome. You
mentioned that with the three of you and all the decisions
you have to make, how do you cope with the I donít agree
element because three isnít necessarily a majority?
Brett: But the thing is, three it can be two against one, so
thereís a voting majority. But, luckily, we have disagreed
on some things, but with all the major creative decisions I
think weíve all sort of been able to find common ground and
not in a way that it sort of like was a compromise, but
weíve been able to win each other over to a creative point
of view that we can all feel happy and proud about.
Aprille: And thatís the way it ought to be and it certainly
shows in those first couple of episodes. Thank you so much.
Brett: Thank you so much.
Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Kristen
Clark from PopCultureMadness. Please go ahead.
Kristen: Hi, thank you so much for talking to us. The first
two episodes were amazing.
Brett: Oh, thank you.
Kristen: I wanted to talk a little bit about the fans of the
show because we have seen the fan base for this show just
grow enormously over the years. Iíve seen you comment on
that a little bit. What do you think resonates so well with
Brett: That is such a good question. I hope everything
resonates with the viewers. As weíre writing and creating we
are hoping that we are creating even greater fans. I think
people are drawn to the spook and the scare and the
creepiness of it all. I think theyíre interested in not just
the three-dimensional hero characters, but also the
dimensionality that we give to our villains.
I hope that they also enjoy sort of like that classic Kevin
Williamson combination of both the scary and the humorous.
And I donít think thereís a whole lot out there thatís like
it, so I think those are some of the things that resonate.
Kristen: Absolutely. And is there anything in particular that
youíre very excited or stoked for us to see this season?
Brett: Iím excited this season, a) what I sort of touched on
earlier in terms of being able to push the Ryan Hardy
character forward and make it more hero-centric and b) then
Iím also excited about the new villains that we have and how
theyíre different from anything weíve done before and to see
them from inception, from the conception, you know, coming
up with them and seeing them on the screen and seeing them
come to life and seeing that they work. Iím excited about
Kristen: Absolutely. Thank you so much.
Moderator: The next question is from the line of Stacy
Glanzman from TV Fanatic. Please go ahead.
Stacy: Hello. Thanks, again, for talking to us. The first two
episodes were fantastic.
Brett: Oh, thank you so much.
Stacy: You touched a little bit on Ryan and Mikeís path, so
Iím curious to hear about Maxís and in the first episode we
saw her with a drink in her hand, so Iím wondering if sheís
about to follow in her uncleís footsteps. What should we
expect from that?
Brett: I think that that is just sort of a hint. And maybe it
comes to play in some way, form or fashion, but I do think
we just wanted to give a nod to the idea that she could go
down that route just because she is Ryan Hardyís niece, but
itís not something that we truly follow up on.
I think for Max, though, and what I love about the character
is that Max is a good FBI agent and she wants to follow the
rules and she wants to do things the right way and I think
thatís important, particularly in our world where we have
some of our heroes so willing to bend and break the rules,
which is something weíre sort of dealing with this season.
I think in terms of Maxís journey weíre going to take her
some places this season where weíre really going to test her
and test whether sheís willing and what situations she would
be willing to break and bend those rules. And we also, of
course, have her relationship issues both with Mike and then
also with Tom.
Stacy: How much influence, if any, do the actors get in the
storylines? Can they come to you or the writers and pitch
Brett: They can and itís not so much; they donít really, with
the exception that Kevin Bacon is actually a producer on the
show this year, Kevin sometimes will pitch broader things.
For the most part the other actors will basically want
clarity and they will have questions on stuff thatís in the
script and theyíll want to know where theyíre going or where
theyíre headed and then they might have tweaks here and
there, but not big story points.
Stacy: Okay, thank you.
Moderator: And we have a follow-up question from Christine
Piccolo. Please go ahead.
Christine: Hi, again. I just wanted to ask you, how do you
guys research how to write the minds of the disturbed for
the series? Because there is such a plethora of crazy,
psychologically disturbed individuals, how do you guys
research that and then write it?
Brett: We have a library of books that are in the writersí
room, which are various books dealing with psychopathy and
sociopaths and psychopaths and then each writer in the
course of the discussion in the writersí room theyíll bring
up different books and names of books and weíll discuss them
and then theyíll say youíve got to read this, youíve got to
read that. And then, of course, pulling articles from online
and from magazines.
Christine: Thatís very interesting. And how much do you use
whatís going on in the world to influence the storylines?
Brett: We donít do too much of the ripped from the headlines
stuff. I think a lot of it will inform us in the background
of things. Oftentimes weíll sometimes come up with something
totally crazy and weíll be like thereís no way, thatís not
possible, that wouldnít happen and then someone will find
something and itís like, nope, nope, that actually did
Christine: Okay. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.
Moderator: That was our last question. Iíd like to turn it
back over to Joanna Wolff.
Joanna: Thank you so much, everyone. Appreciate the great
questions and Brett for the thoughtful responses. And as a
reminder the third season of The Following premieres Monday,
March 2nd at 9:00 p.m. on Fox. Thanks, everyone.
Brett: Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you. That does conclude our conference for
today. Thank you for your participation and using the AT&T
Executive TeleConference Service. You may now disconnect.
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