The cast and creator of Fox's "The Following" took the stage at the 2013 Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour on Tuesday to preview the new thriller. "The Following" stars Kevin Bacon as retired FBI Agent Ryan Hardy, a man who gets pulled back into the the bureau to help track down an escaped serial killer, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), whom he previously apprehended.
At the "Following" panel, Bacon discussed his decision to move from film to TV, while the show's creator, Kevin Williamson, talked about similarities to "24" and addressed premiering a violent show in the wake of the tragic Newtown and Aurora shootings.
Bacon said he had been looking to transition to TV for some time, but was just waiting for the right project. When he read "The Following" script, he knew the time was right. "I was looking for a long time, probably three or four years. From the moment I kind of made that decision, I started to read one amazing pilot after the other. What struck me was the level of the scripts ... [the quality had] just completely changed and I was reading all this amazing stuff," Bacon said. "I had initially thought it was going to be on cable, and I read this one and I could not put it down. It was such a page turner, it was such an interesting character. Given the fast pace, the heart-pounding nature of it, it still had a lot of heart and almost sentimentality that I really responded to."
Williamson -- who also created "Dawson's Creek," The Vampire Diaries" and wrote "Scream" -- embraced the comparisons that the show is already getting to "24," Fox's last suspenseful thriller with a federal agent at its center. "'24' is like my favorite show of all time, and Fox is where '24' lived, so this seemed like a perfect fit," Williamson said. "'24' inspired me as a fast-paced thriller. I want that fast-paced tone and the thrill ride. It's not for the faint of heart. You have to look away, but it's not the sum of the show: There's drama [and] emotion running through it ... Every episode is different. It's meant to be a thriller with a provocative story at its root."
Williamson also talked about the challenges of premiering a violent show after a string of mass shootings have ignited a debate about violence in media. "I think we all worry about it. Who wasn't affected by Sandy Hook? I'm still disturbed when I think of Aurora," he said. "We sit in the writer's room and we're all traumatized by it ... I think one of the reasons it so affects me is it's so real ... I'm just a storyteller ... ["The Following" is] meant to be a work of fiction."
Perhaps to lighten the mood, when a reporter asked about the on-screen chemistry between foils Bacon and Purefoy, Bacon leaned over and gave his co-star a kiss. "Rule nothing in, rule nothing out," Purefoy said wryly. "It's great working with [Bacon]. The man's a legend. I've said it before, if you're playing tennis against somebody useless, you get worse. If you're playing against somebody great, you get better ... I feel like every scene I have with him, I get a little bit better."
"The Following" premieres Monday, Jan. 21, at 9 p.m. EST on Fox.