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‘The Following’: Joe Carroll’s Death, Broken Down By James Purefoy

Fri, May 1, 2015 2:29pm EDT by Emily Longeretta 1 Comment
The Following Joe Carroll Dies
Image Courtesy of Fox

James Purefoy was ready for Joe to die — more ready than most fans! The actor, who just landed his first post-‘Following’ role in ‘Hap & Leonard,’ dissected that crazy yet ‘satisfying’ death to

We all knew it was happening, but the end of Joe Carroll was the end of an era on The Following — not just for fans, but for James Purefoy himself. Luckily, we got to chat with him after the episode and I hate to break it to y’all — but Joe’s really gone.

‘The Following’: Joe Carroll’s Death, Broken Down By James Purefoy

Are you surprised that Joe lasted so long?
No, I always knew that he was gonna die. He has to die at some point, because in this day and age of FBI technology and Joe’s narcissistic desire to have his face plastered everywhere, there had to come a point. I’m ok with that. That’s what’s right.

When did you find out it was the end for Joe?
Ages ago. I felt like I was lying to the audience, which was fine! I’m not a politician. I knew at the end of last season that he was going to go to prison, stay on death row, and that he was going to die. And he really did die. There is those great conspiracy theories that the followers were in the room with him, that he went into a coma, but no no no, he’s dead. He really is dead.

Were you happy with the way Joe died?
I couldn’t have been happier. Alexi Hawley (writer of the episode) just gave me everything, just threw everything at me. It was dramatic, it was witty, it was exciting. It was sad. In 44 minutes television you couldn’t wish for a better sendoff. He gave Joe a proper, fitting sendoff.

Do you think that Theo could be the new Joe Carroll?
I don’t think that’s the point really. I’m not sure if anybody could be the new Joe. Joe’s relationship with Ryan goes back 15 years. It’s fundamental to Ryan Hardy’s DNA. To try and replace that is foolish in a way. We’ve seen [Joe and Hardy]’s relationship layered up. You can’t replace that immediately. The show goes off in a different direction. It will be exciting and brilliant. It won’t be the same. It will be different.

Do you think Joe was ready to go?
I think he needed to have that kind of — for lack of a better word — closure with Ryan — to get Ryan, A. to admit that he enjoyed killing people, crucial, and B. to admit that he was his soulmate. They were two strands of the same DNA. Without Joe, Ryan is less of a person, less of a man. That’s what Joe wanted. Yes, I think Joe was satisfied.

What was your favorite Joe & Ryan moment?
One of the great pleasures of this job was working with the greatness that is Kevin Bacon. It’s been a very strained relationship. The bromance of it, kind of the love that they have for each other, it’s very much shaken the fire. Audience members see different things, depending on who they are, and they paint that picture of their relationship for themselves. Kevin and I — we didn’t talk about it too much, it happened in the electricity between us during the scenes. And he never closed down, he never said ‘I don’t want to play that.’ He accepted everything. As far as favorites, the final episode. The scene where he took him hostage and took the other people hostage, that was for me, probably the most satisfying stuff to play because it brought so many of the strands of the last three years together in one scene.

Most shocking/entertaining thing you’ve received on Twitter?
I’m always shocked by how much people were mourning, were weeping, for Joe’s death because it’s the character that was monstrous on so many levels. He has a dark heart, he’s narcissistic, he’s psychopathic, he has no sense of empathy, he’s unencumbered by conscious! My Twitter feed on Monday night kind of broke down actually. My iPad actually stopped working, they were coming in so fast!

Congrats on ‘Hap & Leonard’ in Baton Rouge. You just started!
Our very first day — a tornado hit the set. We were the only TV show that continued shooting in Louisiana that day! Everyone else shut down. It’s such a great story, really talented team. Reuniting with Michael Kenneth Williams, I worked beautifully with on The Philanthropist a few years ago. He’s a beautiful soul, the king of cool. I enjoy his company immensely. After spending three years playing the darkest character on television, the bleakest man that I will ever play probably — to come out of that darkness and come into the light, is a beautiful thing indeed.

We cannot wait to see Hap & Leonard begin, and I’ll leave you with James’ parting words after I told him I was sad to see Joe go. “We all have to move on, my love.”

— Emily Longeretta