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By Suzanne

Ryan, Mike and Max

Interview with Brett Mahoney, Executive Producer of "The Following" on FOX 2/24/15

Final Transcript
FBC PUBLICITY: The Following Conference Call
February 24, 2015/11:30 a.m. PST

Joanna Wolff
Brett Mahoney


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, 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 Please go ahead.

Christine: Hi, Brett. Thanks so much for taking the time. We really appreciate it.

Brett: No problem. Iím glad that youíre interested in the show.

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 exciting.

Christine: Great. And then also, can you tease anything for the season? What are you most excited about thatís coming up?

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 season.

Brett: Thank you.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Jamie Ruby from 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.

Brett: Sure.

Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Meredith Jacobs from Please go ahead.

Meredith: Hi, thanks for being here today.

Brett: Sure.

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 episodes, also.

Brett: Iím sorry, what?

Meredith: I said I also loved the first two episodes like everyone else.

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 watched them.

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 Season 3?

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 path himself.

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 way?

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 the hero.

I was really excited to hear you say that because that means weíre going to see more of that opportunity for him in this run.

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 that.

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 episode?

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 showrunner?

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.

Brett: Right.

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 viewers?

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 that.

Kristen: Absolutely. Thank you so much.

Brett: Sure.

Moderator: The next question is from the line of Stacy Glanzman from TV Fanatic. Please go ahead.

Brett: Hi.

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 ideas?

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.

Brett: Sure.

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 happen.

Christine: Okay. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

Brett: Sure.

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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