The Following: Nico Tortorella On Jacob’s Fatal Flaw; Season Finale!

On a show where characters are dropping like flies – on both sides of the law – it was just a matter of time before The Following’s (Fox, Mondays, 9/8C) most conflicted member of the Cult of Joe bought it. Not long after his final episode aired, Nico Tortorella talked about his run on the show and what it was like filming that scene – and teased this week’s season finale.

It’s great to talk to you again. You know, I told you last time that Jacob needed to kill Emma. You really should have.

Nico Tortorella: I know, I know. But it’s all about the drama and it all just kind of unravels.

No, I know. Can you talk about filming your death scene?

Tortorella: Yes, for sure. I found out probably a week beforehand and that was the last scene that I got to shoot with Valorie – she’s actually calling me right now, which is hysterical. It was intense and dramatic and emotional. It was my goodbye to her. We’ve had such an incredible season working together.

The neck prosthetic piece that I had on my neck was a big, whole ordeal. It took four hours to put that piece on and then it was all rigged up with the blood. It was a lot.

Wow, I didn’t know they went through all that for that. That’s cool. So, what do you think, all in all, that you’ve learned about yourself in filming the show? Whether as an actor or just in general?

Tortorella: Just enjoy the moment, you know, because you never know when it’s going to stop. In good and in bad, this too shall pass.

Since, you know, you’re from Wilmette, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about growing up here and what got you into acting.

Tortorella: Yes, it was fantastic. I went to New Trier and I started on stage when I was pretty young, like, eight or nine I did a show at Wilmette Children’s Theatre, which was The Wizard of Oz. From that point on, I stopped playing sports – I was playing hockey and lacrosse – and started working in Chicago theater.

I worked at the Northlight Theater in Skokie, the Mercury Theater on South Port. I did a show there for three years, actually; it was called Over the Tavern. I studied at Goodwin and Steppenwolf. It was just an amazing city to be introduced to this world. It’s such a great middle point between L.A. and New York and such an awesome starting place. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I understand that your grandmother, she owns an antique shop out here, is that right, in Glenview?

Tortorella: Yes, Resale & Antiques in Glenview.

Does she pass along – is that where you get your love of antiques and vintage clothing and all that?

Tortorella: That’s where it all started: me traveling the garage sales and auctions with my grandma. That’s when they planted the seeds.

Are your folks still here?

Tortorella: My folks actually moved out to L.A. once my brother and I moved out there. They’ve been there for a couple of years now. But I still have this huge Italian family all scattered throughout all of Chicagoland, so I’m back as much as I can be.

So it’s been a rollercoaster of a relationship between Jacob and Emma. How did you feel about it being Emma who ended up actually killing your character?

Tortorella: Well, I think that it made the most sense, in terms of the drama, and just really the love story between the two of us and her love story with Joe Carroll. Honestly, maybe aside from Joe Carroll, I wouldn’t have wanted it to be anybody else.

Okay. Can we expect some kind of karma to come Emma’s way in the finale after offing Jacob?

Tortorella: Absolutely. There’s going to be some twists and turns to throw her character off a little bit.

Finally, The Following … team up with Kevin Williamson, so what do you like about working with him?

Tortorella: There’re always surprises and you never know what’s going to happen. He’s one of the few masters of his genre. It’s always a pleasure to work with him. I’m excited for what our next project is.

Is there any chance you’re going to be working with him in the near future?

Tortorella: I hope so.

What was the hardest thing that you had to work on during the show and why?

Tortorella: The hardest thing that I had to work on – you know, it was probably Paul’s death. It was definitely the most challenging scene that I’ve had to work on thus far, as an actor, just because it was utterly, emotionally, completely draining. Probably the most satisfying and gratifying experience I’ve ever had as an actor, as well. It was a long day and that was the last scene of the night and I gave it every inch of what I had available.

Once you finished – your character is finished now, what was it like? Was it gratification that I did my part and I think I did a great job and it’s over and I’m going to move on? Or was it kind of sad? Or a little bit of both?

Tortorella: Yes, totally bittersweet. I would have loved to stay on the show for longer and watch Jacob’s character unfold a little bit more and see how exactly he got to this place and where he was going. But at the end, Kevin Williamson just has such an amazing way of building up characters to a certain point and then just dropping them out to shock the audience so well. At the end of the day, it’s all about the drama and I wouldn’t change this experience for anything.

Nico, do you think it’s kind of ironic, or at least interesting in a way, that as we move forward in the story, Joe Carroll’s biggest Achilles’ heel, I guess, is his love for a woman. It’s what’s driving him, but it’s also what’s putting him at great risk.

At the end of the day for your character, it was also the love of a woman, wasn’t it? He could have just gotten in that car and gone, but he wanted to take Emma with him. So what are we saying about love on this crazy show?

Tortorella: Love rules all. It absolutely does.

Or ends all.

Tortorella: Yes, I guess it goes both ways, for sure. When I was in the car – when Jacob was in the car with Emma, he turns to her and says I’m leaving with or without you, but I do love you. It was ultimately her decision, her love for Joe Carroll that ruled all. Yes, so it totally is ironic.

One quick followup: do you think that this show is kind of pushing the envelope in terms of what we’re seeing on network TV. I can’t remember too many shows that have been, I guess, for lack of a better word, extreme on network TV. It seems like every week it goes a little bit further.

Are you guys aware of that when you’re making it? Does it give you sort of a sense of accomplishment or pride or kind of like we really are getting people’s attention because we’re really pushing the envelope here?

Tortorella: Yes, for sure. We were kind of the followup to the drama and the intensity that 24 had on Fox, which is on the same level, completely, as The Following is. But it’s always gratifying to know that you’re working on a show that is not only intense but it’s also social commentary. It’s constantly pushing the envelope, and that’s every actor and filmmaker’s dream.

I was just curious, were you surprised that Paul – now I’m going to call you Paul and Jacob – seemed to forgive Emma so easy? I guess it wasn’t that easy, but after a while, because I was kind of surprised.

Tortorella: Yes, I was surprised to an extent. But at the same time, there were only so many people that Jacob had to turn to in that house. Emma was getting literally slapped back and forth by everybody else in the house, and when she finally turned to Jacob for support, Jacob had nobody else to turn to, so it was either love or not love, and I think Jacob just showed love.

Just in your own opinion, if they had gotten away and left, what do you think would have happened? Do you think that he would have caught them? Do you think that she would have turned on him down the road?

Tortorella: In my opinion, if we had gone away, a whole little Bonnie and Clyde story would have been a perfect season two, but I’m not the writer.

Well, tell them they need a spinoff. Alright, thanks a lot.

Tortorella: Thank you.

You kind of mentioned that you want to work with Kevin again. What are you looking to do in terms of a followup? Are you looking for other TV projects, like horror, drama?

Tortorella: I’m actually shooting a movie right now called Hunter and Game, which is a fictional documentary about an electronic music group. It’s super comedy and hysterical and a lot of improv and it’s been a great followup to working on such a dramatic show like The Following.

But I want to do it all. I don’t want to get locked in any one type of genre. Some type of romantic comedy after The Following would be just fine with me. But working with Kevin Williamson and I’m reading a bunch of amazing scripts right now; some in the suspense genre and other completely not, some period pieces. I just want to constantly be working with amazing directors and amazing actors and just always pushing the envelope on what I can do as an actor.

Are you actively seeking TV projects or just whatever comes your way?

Tortorella: It’s both. I love the consistency of working on television. You don’t get that in working on film, but it’s all about the right projects. I’m reading different stuff every single day, so actively seeking.

Would you – you talk about that you want to keep acting. Would you ever be interested in doing something behind the scenes, like directing or anything?

Tortorella: Yes, for sure. Especially after working on The Following and we had so many amazing directors come in and I’ve learned so much from just being in this industry for the short amount of time that I have been. Is it something that I want to do right away? No, I definitely want to stay in front of the camera and learn more from as many people as I can. Somewhere down the line, yes, writing and directing and producing and all encompass would be fantastic.

Awesome. I was curious – you talk about different types of projects and that you’re happy to do any different kind, but is The Following the type of show you would normally watch? Do you like suspenseful horrors? What do you watch, in general?

Tortorella: Not necessarily. I watch a lot of Comedy Central. They’re doing a lot of really cool new shows, like The Nathan Show and The Ben Show – I guess it’s Nathan for You. It’s kind of like the real reality TV, like behind the scenes reality TV that’s happening right now that I’m into at this moment. But in terms of big dramas like this, I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan, but I’m also a huge Girls fan. I’m kind of all over the place, really.

I’m from the Atlanta area and I was wondering if you think there might be something for you in a project down the road in this area?

Tortorella: In what area is it? I’m sorry.


Tortorella: In Atlanta. We actually shot the pilot for The Following in Atlanta, which was great. There’s amazing antique shopping all outside of the Atlanta area. I had a lot of fun there.

You know, there’s so much that’s shooting there, I’m sure I will wind up back in Atlanta at some point.

With The Following, were they real strict with the lines or did you improv at all or add things?

Tortorella: Kevin was kind of a stickler on staying to the books. There were a few places where I was able to adlib a little bit, but not really. The way he writes is pretty consistent and he wants you to say what he writes.

Okay, great. Thanks.

Photos by Barbara Nitke and Giovanni Rufino/Courtesy of Fox Television