I've gotta drop a SPOILER ALERT at the outset of this article because one of the big reasons I wanted to sit down with the always-impeccable Shawn Ashmore at this time was because his character, F.B.I. agent Mike Weston, just survived one of The Following's most harrowing life or death situations to date!
In last week's episode, Weston found himself the involuntary star of a Follower Fight Club, where lead pipes and knives replaced fists and knees, after Joe tasked his devotees to abscond with the agent in hopes of learning the location of Claire's safe house.
After initially putting up a good fight, Weston endured a seriously brutal beating despite pleas that no one ever gave him Claire's location. But as the audience, and Ryan Hardy, learned after an eleventh hour reprieve, Weston was actually one of the few agents who did know where Joe's ex-wife was being held, thereby truly saving the day!
I chatted with Ashmore about his character's major moment, found out what's next for Mike and learned the latest about Iceman's return to the X-Men universe in 2014's Days of Future Past!
ETonline: First of all, I'm so glad Mike is alive! And judging from the online response I got after Tweeting something to that effect, I'd imagine your Twitter mentions were insane last week.
Shawn Ashmore: [laughs] Literally, hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of Tweets saying they better not kill Mike. I got like 2,500 people calling me during and after that episode. I think people connected to that very dramatic sequence, which was shot amazingly. I think because our villains have been really well drawn out, this was a nice moment of heroism from one of our characters.
ETonline: I particularly loved that Weston knew Claire's location all along. What excited you about that reveal?
Ashmore: It creates that sacrifice element and makes you understand that Mike is more than he seems. Until now, Mike has been a part of the case, but because he doesn't have flashbacks, there's not as much depth to him. This really deepens the character and adds a level of interest that shows you he's a lot tougher than you might have assumed.
ETonline: Tough for sure, but does this experience change him?
Ashmore: Weston goes through a big change as a result of what happened to him. The effects of what happened to him are long lasting. On our show, you can't suffer that kind of beating and then be back on the case the next day. There's a significant recovery period -- and for the rest of this season, you'll see the physical effects on Weston. But what I think is really interesting is the bond that is really deepened between Ryan and Mike because Ryan no longer sees him as this annoying agent who is trying to be his best friend, but more of a partner. He's seen that Mike is willing to sacrifice his life.
ETonline: Given how freely death visits The Following, did you get a heads up from Kevin Williamson before reading the script? Like, "OK, so it's going to look like Mike's dying, but he won't."
Ashmore: That's exactly what I got. Kevin has such a great sense of humor about things, so he said, "When you read your character is being wheeled off in a stretcher at the end of the episode, don't worry, you're not dying." And that's all you can ask for on this show, because when we are going to [be killed off], there is a warning. We were told from day one that any one of us could die at any point and if we are killed, it's not because they didn't like what we were doing -- its all in service of the story.
ETonline: Suffice it to say a call from Kevin Williamson is the best and worst thing one of his actors could get?
Ashmore: Yeah [laughs]. It could be him saying, "Hey, let's have a conversation about what's going to happen next week," or you could be told, "In two episodes, I'm killing you." You just never know what's going to happen when Kevin Williamson calls you.
ETonline: Looking ahead, what are you excited for The Following fans to see in the run up to the finale?
Ashmore: I'm excited for this incredible ride that's been building up to come to a head. New characters come out of the woodwork, we discover more about the characters the show has already revealed and the inevitable Ryan Hardy and Joe Carroll tete-a-tete is so satisfying. Kevin [Williamson] really has pulled out all the stops in the finale, which is so satisfying. A huge season finale that doesn't wrap anything up can be super frustrating, so I feel like our finale has the best of both worlds. There's a lot of closure -- it brings closure to some major elements of season one -- but still leaves the door wide open for season two.
ETonline: It's also been revealed that you will return as Bobby Drake/Iceman in next year's X-Men film. Did you ever expect to put that uniform back on?
Ashmore: No way, I had no idea. I really didn't. But, I knew what Days of Future Past was, so when I heard that was the plan for the new movie, in the back of my head coming back was always a possibility. But I had no expectations, so when I got the call, it was incredibly exciting. This will be my fourth X-Men film, Bryan Singer took a chance on me all those years ago so the fact we get to work together again is exciting. Equally exciting is the fact it's with all the other actors, who I spent so much time working with, and promoting those movies with. Then, you have the casts of these two worlds merging, which is amazing for fans of the X-Men and fans of huge movies. It's got so much potential to further the X-Men universe in a way we never imagined.
ETonline: Have you read the script yet?
Ashmore: There's no script yet. It's very preliminary, but I know the broad strokes of what I'm going to get to do. But, honestly, it wasn't a project that I needed to think about. I was dying to do it. I didn't need to see the script. The fact I get to be in scenes with all those people again is reason enough to sign on. I'm ready to do whatever Bryan wants.
The Following airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox.