Kevin Williamson on ‘The Following’

The creator of “The Following” talks about violence in the media, and the future of his creepy new serial killer show.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

At the Television Critics Association panel for “The Following,” creator Kevin Williamson fielded a number of questions about violence in the media, and its impact on events like the Newtown and Aurora shootings. Williamson preferred to focus on the drama.

We found Williamson later that night at the Fox TCA party and got some exclusive one on one time to talk with him about “The Following” and his long history in the horror genre.

CraveOnline: You must be used to answering questions about violence in the media since Scream.

Kevin Williamson: Well Killing Mrs. Tingle became Teaching Mrs. Tingle real quick after Columbine.

CraveOnline: And that was after Scream where the subject was teens who may or may not have been influenced by movies. All these years later, why do people still want to talk about violent movies, or TV in this case? Isn’t it a distraction from all the other reasons people kill?

Kevin Williamson: It is, and it’s one of those situations where to ask a Hollywood writer to get into the TV violence debate is just asking me to crawl into a rabbit hole that I’ll never be able to get out of, when all I can really say is I’ve been so affected by what’s happening in the real world, I write fiction. I write fiction.

I just believe if you’re going to tell a dark story and deal with the scariest, most depraved minds that are out there and tell a story about good and evil and cops and robbers and murderers, fiction is where you tell those stories. You can’t do it in the real world. These acts of violence are not allowed in the real world and it’s unacceptable. I do believe fiction is an outlet for that psyche, that part of us that want to express that.

CraveOnline: Is the format of the show we’ll pursue a different follower each week?

Kevin Williamson: No, it’s a serialized drama. It’s a soap opera.

CraveOnline: But we do keep meeting new followers, so how do you balance that?

Kevin Williamson: There is sort of a story of the week where someone new will come in or you’ll add a person to the puzzle, but it is a serialized show. We have series regulars and we follow them.

CraveOnline: The serialized story is very creepy, but what’s your take on jump scares?

Kevin Williamson: I like jump scares. When they’re done effectively, they’re always fun, but I also like to be unexpected with them. We’ll see. TV it’s hard. You’re moving so fast, you’re going a mile a minute and you never have enough time. Creating suspense and scares are really difficult, but I do think jump scares are fun. I’m a horror buff. I think they have their place.

CraveOnline: In a movie theater you have a big loud boom. Is it harder to pull off a jump scare on television?

Kevin Williamson: Yeah, I think trying to build suspense and scares on TV in general I find to be more challenging. You’re writing to a commercial break. How do you do that and be scary?

CraveOnline: Have all of your shows started with a detailed mythology? “Vampire Diaries” and “Secret Circle” had books, but did “Dawson’s Creek” have as detailed a background as you have for “The Following?”

Kevin Williamson: Well, with “Dawson’s Creek” I had my life. That was my mythology. I just wrote from my personal stories. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.

CraveOnline: What do you think of James van der Beek on “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23?”

Kevin Williamson: I love it. I love it. He’s awesome. He’s funny. He’s very, very funny and I love that he’s laughing at himself in that way because he does such great comedy. He’s got comedy. I love the man. He’s awesome.

CraveOnline: With Scream 4 should I assume everything I liked were you and the parts I had a problem with were the rewrite?

Kevin Williamson: You know what? Sure, why not? I’m sure I’m guilty. I’m sure there’s blood on my hands but sure, I’ll go with that.

CraveOnline: Did you ever see Detention, a teen slasher comedy with time travel, which was the joke about Stab 5?

Kevin Williamson: No, I’m going to look for it. I haven’t seen it.

CraveOnline: The pace of the first four episodes of “The Following” is pretty fast. Can you maintain that or do you want to have some quiet episodes too?

Kevin Williamson: Every episode is different. I think episode four we slow it down and do a little more drama. We do a character backstory, we do a lot of flashbacks for Ryan (Kevin Bacon). Whereas three is a little more of a horror show. It depends. Some shows are more character driven and more dramatic. Other episodes are action. Other episodes are scary. It just depends. Every episode’s a little different and has a different sort of focus.

CraveOnline: Would you ever have a bottle episode with just the core cast in one location?

Kevin Williamson: Sure, I don’t know how to do that, but it’d be really hard to do with this show. Five and six have a little bit of a bottle feel but only because it’s isolated to one location, but no, it’s not really. No, no, I don’t think this is a show for that.

CraveOnline: Does Carroll (James Purefoy) have favorites among his followers?

Kevin Williamson: Yes. He’s got some that he has known longer who were with him longer and that he’s more familiar with, so yes, he does have favorites.

CraveOnline: What’s coming up on “Vampire Diaries” for those fans?

Kevin Williamson: Oh, I can’t. I promised Julie [Plec] I wouldn’t talk about “Vampire Diaries.” Here’s what happened. Last time I did something on “The Following,” I gave up something because I had seen the episode, so in my mind I thought it had aired and it hadn’t aired. I spoiled my own show. Julie was like, “What are you doing?” I go, “It’s already aired.” And she goes, “It airs next week!” I’d already seen it. I forget that it hasn’t aired and I completely spoiled something, and I promised her I’d keep my mouth shut because I’m not watching them on air.