To know how convincing he is as serial killer Joe Carroll on Fox’s The Following, all James Purefoy has to do is walk down the street. “I got out of a car the other day, and I was talking to somebody, and as I turned, I bumped into this middle-aged lady, and she made the sound of a small dog being kicked. She didn’t scream, she yelped at me,” he says. “It turned out that she’d been watching the show the night before and thinking about it, and then suddenly, poof, there I was.”
Even better: “There was a guy the other day who was asking me where the nearest Starbucks was, and I happened to know it was on the other side of the street. I was pointing it out to him, and suddenly I saw the recognition. [In thick New York accent] ‘Whoa, I am so not messing with you. Get the heck away from me now.’ And he literally ran down the street away from me,” Purefoy says. “That’s a funny thing to feel, isn’t it? On one hand, it means the show’s working and the character’s working, because if he’s not scary, then what’s the point? But on the other hand, as an actor and as a man, I don’t want people to be frightened of me. I want people to be happy to be in my company.”
We’ve got good news: His answers to our EW Pop Culture Personality Test below definitely do the trick…
Name the movie you have to watch every time you spot it on cable.
I hate to say it because I’m in it: A Knight’s Tale. It’s a film that I think wears its heart so firmly on its sleeve. Anybody who doesn’t like that film has black and green spots upon their heart.
Name a chick flick you’ll admit to liking.
Oh god, I’ll watch chick flicks back-to-back. I love chick flicks. Name me one, I’ll tell you if I like it. I would love to be in a romantic comedy. I’ve done one romantic comedy when I was much, much younger, and I had such a blast. I have been in the darkness on this show. I’ve been in a dark tunnel with no light. I long to come out into the sunshine.
Name the most played song on your iPod.
When I was doing Marc Antony in Rome, there was this Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt” that was covered by Johnny Cash. I couldn’t stop listening to that song. I still can’t. I love it. It breaks my heart every time I listen to it.
Name a TV show you’ve marathoned.
24 was a terrible crack addiction for me. That was the one that got most in the way of work. I remember I was making a movie, and I was having a binge on 24. I’d put one episode on at 10 p.m., think I’d maybe watch two… 5 a.m. comes along, and the car is picking me up in an hour. Homeland is another one. Breaking Bad. I can’t stop watching them. I wonder if there’s a group: TVA, TV Anonymous. My life has become unmanageable. Something like that, I’d like to go to. If there is one, let me know.
Name an upcoming TV show you’re excited to watch.
[NBC’s] Hannibal, obviously. [Laughs] That will be Joe Carroll’s favorite show. Joe Carroll loves to sit down with some lasagna and a glass of red wine and watch Hannibal.