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Seeing Double: Sam Underwood Talks His Terrifying Turn As Killer Twins In "The Following"

Shannon O’Connor ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor-in-Chief

Sam Underwood as Luke (Left) and Mark (Right) in The Following. Photo Credit: Michael Lavine / FOX.
Sam Underwood as Luke (Left) and Mark (Right) in The Following. Photo Credit: Michael Lavine / FOX.

The Following has gained a new follower — scratch that, two new followers.

Fox’s hit psychological thriller The Following returned for its sophomore season on January 19, introducing new and exciting characters. The most memorable of the series’ fresh meat were Luke and Mark, a killer pair of identical twins, who made their debut in terrifying style with an eerie sequence early on in the episode.

Bringing these terrifying twins to life is English actor Sam Underwood, who graced the small screen in the final season of Dexter as Zach Hamilton, Dexter’s (Michael C. Hall) protégé who met a tragic end, and in the third season of Showtime’s other hit drama Homeland as Leo Carras, Dana Brody’s (Morgan Saylor) love interest.

Emertainment Monthly got the opportunity to chat with Underwood about his new terrifying turn on The Following and what audiences should prepare for this season.

Your characters Luke and Mark are very interesting, what drew you to the part?

Well, initially I wasn’t actually aware I was auditioning to play twins. So, the concept of playing someone who potentially had a split personality disorder or some kind of schizophrenia was fascinating to me in itself, because what a rich character to research and explore. So, when I found out that… I was actually auditioning to play identical twins; it was just a cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake to be part of the show [where] the writing is so complex and interesting with so many interesting characters. So, it was pretty amazing to find that out.

When it was revealed in the pilot there was some speculation as to whether the characters were twins or had a split personality disorder.

Absolutely, and that was definitely down to that first episode when we see them. The writing is very good at misleading the audience, but I mean the direction – they really are absolute geniuses at what they do. They kept that level of mystery about it up until the reveal. And even then people didn’t seem to know whether or not they were looking at twins or looking at someone with a split personality. It was really great to get good feedback on that.

Sam Underwood as Luke in The Following episode "Resurrection." Photo Credit: David Giesbrecht / FOX.
Sam Underwood as Luke in The Following episode “Resurrection.” Photo Credit: David Giesbrecht / FOX.

What was the experience like shooting the reveal sequence in the premiere?

I ended up reading the first episode and reading how the reveal was going to be done; the sequence in Heather’s apartment and all of that and I was jaw-to-the-floor excited about how this was going to be shot, both for the level of fun and Marcos [Siega] the director and [his crew] they really gave Luke and Mark the flexibility and the space to be able to play within the scene. There was a lot of controlled coordination within those scenes, so it was so, so much fun. I was also fascinated to work with split screens [and] work out how that is shot. I was blown away when I first saw on screen how the wonderful camera department we have put together those scenes, because it just looks absolutely seamless and very creepy [and] very eerie and that is because of their hard work.

It is very clear that while the Luke and Mark look the same, they are very different. How would you characterize each of them?

I think it comes down to that Luke wants to be seen and heard and celebrated for how brilliant he is at what he does, how good he looks, how well he does his job and how much he enjoys it. And Mark doesn’t crave attention, so to speak, he is more the quiet and methodical one. He is book smart and thinks before he acts, whereas Luke is a lot more impulsive. Those are some of the huge dynamic differences between them, and you find out a lot more over the course of the season of what their subtle differences are… The fascinating thing about playing identical twins, [is] that they have a very unique relationship, so it is wonderful [and] delicious to kind of find those nuances between the brothers as the season went on.

Is there a twin you like playing the most?

I really love both these characters and essentially you are playing two people and I am not playing one character more fleshed out than the other. I choose very, very interesting complex people, so, I love them both for their different qualities. I would say that both these guys are essences or character traits that I have not had the opportunity to explore before, so that has been a lot of fun to get into. There is not one that I prefer over the other; I love them both as brothers.

Kevin Bacon and Sam Underwood as Luke in The Following episode "For Joe." Photo Credit: David Giesbrecht / FOX.
Kevin Bacon and Sam Underwood as Luke in The Following episode “For Joe.” Photo Credit: David Giesbrecht / FOX.

What should audiences expect to see from your character in future episodes?

Much more mischief. I mean when you are first introduced to these guys they really come out with all guns blazing it’s a real shock to [meet] very, very out there characters. As the season goes on you are exposed to a lot more of like where they come from, what their human traits are, who they are as people rather than as quote on quote “psycho twins” on a killing mission. So, you get to see a little bit more of the heart of these guys as well, which is, again, the wonderful thing with what Kevin Williamson has done to this show is that he has created characters that are not just two dimensional, but have a back story and things about the character the audience want to in a way empathize with and find out more about, which makes them more interesting. So, you are going to find all that out with Luke and Mark as well.

What was it like joining the cast of the show in its sophomore season?

Well, I was a huge fan of the show in season one and I have been very aware of Kevin Williamson’s work for a long time and all the different projects he has done, and his workings are always really well crafted. So, I was thrilled to come along from that point of view, but also [because of] the ensemble cast we have on the show particularly the ones that got to stay past season one, because not everyone gets to live very long on this show. To work alongside Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy these giants in the industry was just an absolute dream and also to work alongside people like Valorie Curry and Shawn Ashmore, who are younger in the industry but still very, very powerful on screen. It was a joy to join that cast.

You had a guest starring role on Dexter’s last season as killer as well, is there something about parts like these draws you in?

Well, I mean I am drawn to well-written, interesting [and] complex characters; characters that go on a journey that aren’t a stereotype, so to speak… The thing about Zach in Dexter, was that he started out as one kind of character and over a short journey over four episodes, we almost saw this kind of weird kid become nearly a normal young guy. Unfortunately it ended kind of badly there. I would just say I am drawn to well-written material and interesting characters. The idea of being cast as these people, I mean, that’s where the directors and casting directors put me, in those roles. I don’t know what it is about me, I have no idea.

What can audiences expect out of this season?

There is a lot more of Kevin Williamson’s dark humor in this season – if its nervous or quick laughter, there is laughter there – which gives, [even with] the darkness and the intensity that the show has and had in season one, the audience room to breathe a little bit more. Also you are going to see the people from season one carry on their journey, which is fascinating in itself.

Catch The Following Monday’s at 9pm on FOX. 

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