Last night's premiere episode of The Following debuted new twin villains, Luke and Mark, portrayed by Dexter alum, Sam Underwood. Underwood's shocking onscreen entrance left fans reeling as they discovered not one, but two new baddies for season 2 of Fox's hit thriller. He says this about the twins before digging in,
“They’re so distinctly unique and complex in their own right, that it’s like having two great acting jobs.”
What is it like to play such a creepy role, to come out of it and transitioning into everyday life again?
“It definitely takes a toll on me, I have to decompress a lot and do something not related to what I’m doing. Look, I revel and relish in playing complex characters, so I really enjoy going into that place with these guys. And the great thing that Kevin Williamson has done with these guys is that he’s really incorporated a lot of humor. I don’t feel heavy all the time, I actually feel like I’m having a lot of fun. The blood gets a bit gory sometimes, but I kind of enjoy it. That’s sort of sick to say—I don’t enjoy that part of it, but it’s fun to do.”
You’ve played a lot of dark and troubled characters. I know you said you like the complexity, but is there anything else that draws you to them?
“I like going after good material, well-written material. It really just so happens that each of these roles I have been lucky enough to get in a row so close together. And it is about that complexity; I look for three dimensional characters and characters that go on a journey. That’s really it. I think there’s a fascination in America right now with psychopaths, serial killers, anti-heroes, and these kinds of shows. It’s kind of great because it gives villainous characters some really great story lines. It’s kind of like Richard III, you know? He gets to play a villain throughout, but he’s totally justified in what he’s doing, and I feel like as Luke and Mark, and as Zach [on Dexter] and as Leo [on Homeland], in other shows that I’ve done, they’ve all been totally justified in what they’re doing. It’s kind of wonderful in a weird way.”
When you’re playing a villain, do you try to find some kernel that you like about them?
“Absolutely, you’ve got to. I don’t think you can ever think of yourself as a villain. As Luke and as Mark, I’m doing everything for the right reasons and it kind of gives you that get-out-of-jail-free card because you don’t judge yourself in anything you do. So when I’m doing really sick things, its all part of what I do and I have to do this because it’s part of my ritual. It’s really fun to play those villainous characters, but I don’t think of myself and go ‘hmm’ and think of that. You really just have to think about finding the humanizing factor, and the great thing about the writing in this as the season goes on, you find that both the twins really have very human qualities to them. And you found that last year as well when you first meet Emma’s character and the two boys. Last year, at first, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, they’re so twisted,’ but you find out who they are and where they come from as the show goes on. And I found, as a viewer, it was like ‘Oh, I get them’ or ‘I get why they’re doing this’ and it happens with these guys as well. It’s really beautiful; the writing is great.”
How is it playing two characters?
“The most luxurious acting job ever! They’re so distinctly unique and complex in their own right, that it’s like having two great acting jobs. I haven’t yet come to the point where it’s like ‘Wow, this is really taxing playing two guys’. It’s the most fun ever.”
"Luke is a very complex individual, very dangerous. He's got a lot of charm about him, he's a little narcissistic, and you can expect lots of mischief out of his endeavors," he said.
Luke/Mark will be more competition than anything to Carroll?
"I think he sees him/them as competition," Sam said. "Luke is very about himself, and I don't think you could put two narcissists together, or have one narcissist want to be around another." As for Ryan Hardy, Sam had a much more playful answer. "He's a play thing. He'll be a fun mouse to chase," he said. "I've gotten to do some really interesting things with the characters. We've only got four more episodes to shoot, and I know potentially what's coming up, but if I had my dream, it would probably be a battle royale with Ryan Hardy," Underwood said. "Complete gun fight. It would be amazing. Then we both lose the guns, and then we get into a fist fight."
And then Luke wins? "Sure. Absolutely. That would be the dream," Sam said.
Do you get to work directly with Kevin Bacon in any of the upcoming episodes?
“Yeah, not to give too much away, but I really get to interact with a lot of the regulars in the show. And that’s the great thing with the previous ensemble from season one and the new guys as well, I feel so safe with everyone. They’re all great scene partners and, for how dark the show is, we have a lot of fun shooting it. Kevin, Connie [Nielson], Shawn [Ashmore], everyone is great.”