In a show about a murderous former English teacher played by James Purefoy and starring Kevin Bacon, it was the relationship between
fake gay cultists Paul (Adan Canto) and Jacob (Nico Tortorella) that lit up the Following-themed corners of the Internet. That was, until last night.
[SPOILER ALERT: DON’T KEEP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE LASTEST EPISODE]
In “Love Hurts,” we saw the latter smother the former, gently, with a pillow — because Paul was dying anyway; because Jacob had never killed anyone; and because Paul wanted his life to “mean something.” (Awww.)
EW talked with Canto about his character’s emotionally twisted end and his just-plain-emotional arc on the series.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you know you were going to die? What was your reaction?
Well I found out there was a probable passing, I think, in episode two or three, and understanding that the kind of show this is, the kind of storyline, it makes total sense for something like that to happen. And I think I probably found out in episode five that I wouldn’t go past episode nine or ten, so it bummed me out just for a minute. But then it’s about the project, it’s about the story, and once I read the script for episode nine, I totally understood why that was bound to happen and I loved the way Paul leaves, the way he goes out is amazing. It was great for me to plan that scene out, to truly give myself, to really live that situation with Nico [Tortorella], to play that scene was amazing for me.
Tell me a bit about filming the actual death. I thought it was one of the most emotional scenes in the show, weirdly.
It was amazing. I think as actors you’re always a little bit scared into a scene like that. But it’s fascinating to be in that, like once you take that step of saying, “You know what? I’m just gonna commit. I’m not gonna play anything out, I’m not going to do anything mechanic, I’m just gonna to buy into the situation and truly go through it,” it’s fascinating the results you get. And aside from the results, the experience in itself is like a trip. I feel so grateful to have experienced that with Nico — he’s a method actor, a great actor, and it was great to share that with him.
And how you think Jacob is changed because of it? We see him there at the end with Emma looking pretty fierce.
Oh, it changes him completely. This was pretty much the moment we have been waiting for in Jacob’s storyline. Paul, if you remember, he’s always telling Jacob, “You can do it, you can do it, come on you can do it,” in a very supportive way. So this is the perfect opportunity for two things: for Paul to be able to find that peace he’s always looking for, and also sacrifice his life for the sake of Jacob’s growth.
Your character’s relationship with Jacob has inspired a pretty strong following within The Following. You’re kind of the season’s break-out psycho. Did you expect that?
I wasn’t thinking exactly on that, but I definitely am surprised. But I kind of understand how it happened, considering the kind of actor Nico is, the kind of actor Valorie is, and I try and invest myself every time. So it was a great experience to work with them and be in every situation and see how they just totally committed to it. We were just floating around like fish in water, it was a very natural thing, so I’m kind of not surprised to have really good results that way. But I’m totally flattered and I feel grateful.
Given that it’s three crazy people, I thought the whole thing was kind of sweet. What’d you think about Paul/Jacob/Emma?
Well it basically stems from that. It’s funny, when you’re playing an evil character, I think it’s a mistake to play him evil. When you understand what passion this character has, then you’re really scared of him because he has a motive, he has an unbreakable faith in his perspective and nothing’s going to move him. And that’s Paul’s situation, I mean Paul’s a very passionate, faith-driven, relentless character. So maybe his vision was a bit clouded, he liked to see life through a different glass and he turned out to be this guy, but because of his emotion, because of that sort of passion that makes him a sweet heart sometimes, or passionate some other times.
Have you heard anything about the rest of the season, or did they immediately cut you off?
No, no, I mean I’ve been reading the scripts just the same, and yeah, it’s going to be a fascinating season.
Does it only get crazier?
Oh absolutely. I think we’ve seen that it has been escalating gradually, and it’s only going to escalate more. It’s going to be quite a joy ride.