In joining the cast of The Following, Jessica Stroup is doing something a little different than fans of her character on 90210 might expect. Herself a fan of her new show, Jessica talked with The Daily Quirk about her transition between shows, the benefits of changing genres and the fun she’s having with a new cast and character. Read on for the exclusive interview…
The Daily Quirk: We were introduced to your character Max Hardy, Ryan Hardy’s niece, at the beginning of Season Two of The Following. Can you tell us a bit about what attracted you to the role?
Jessica Stroup: Yeah! I’m coming off the show 90210, which I worked on for five years, and I loved it. I really wanted to work in New York, and I’m drawn to roles that require physical action and lend a certain respect for women in the force and in general. The last season of the show I watched as it aired…it’s hard to catch TV when you’re filming TV, but I really loved the show. I love Kevin Bacon and Kevin Williamson, he’s so talented, and Marcos Siega who is one of our executive producers and directors and writers and all that, so it’s just been an incredible cast and crew to join.
TDQ: Max seems like a bit of a departure from your role as Erin Silver on 90210. Was it fun switching gears?
JS: [Laughing] It’s funny because I think Silver went by Silver because of the same reason Max didn’t like being called Maxine. But are you asking if it was a tough departure?
JS: Yeah. The stuff that we’re doing on the show is a completely different genre of TV. I think it’s something special last year when they introduced the show, and I think it’s just sort of building on top of that. We can see a lot more of the character and her back-story. She’s developing for this spectacle that’s scary almost horror show. It’s pretty graphic and gory. I love being able to learn so many different things. You know we’re learning about handling the guns and what the protocols might be for working in the FBI or working in New York in general is just so different, and it’s been a brutal winter [laughing]. It’s been a huge learning curve, but year a really fun role to play. Both roles were fun to play, but this is the type of role I really wanted for my career. So I feel lucky.
TDQ: Are you anything like Max in real life?
JS: [Laughing] Yeah, yeah, definitely. I think she’s very real. She’s not perfect. She finds humor in dark places sometimes, and kind of connects on an emotional level with the men in her life because she was really close with her father. Her father has passed, but the show really revolved around these men. I mean, there’s a lot of aspects to it but it’s just so fun to play off of Shawn Ashmore who plays Mike Weston. Obviously, it’s fun to work with Kevin Bacon. He’s just always interesting and the choices he makes as far as that character. I guess Max is tough, and I’m definitely a sweet but stubborn girl at times, but I had an older brother who was really important to me and helped me a lot. There was definitely a little bit of that in her.
TDQ: I heard you were a fan of the show before taking on the role, is that true?
JS: Yes. I really watched the show as it aired last year. I was really into it, and it was just such a well-done show in general. When I got the audition I was actually out of the country and I flew back in for it. I was really gunning for it.
TDQ: So what was it like joining the cast?
JS: Intimidating! [Laughing] Plus moving to New York in general, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’m working with so many established actors also on a new network with a new crew, so I’ve definitely had to get used to it. You have to be comfortable with your crew especially if you’re working on a show for a while. Everyone was really welcoming. I don’t get to spend a lot of time with the bad guys, but when I do see them it’s always really funny. Being a fan of the show before I know who they are, so when I see them in the hair and makeup trailer I always have to do a double take.
TDQ: Max and Ryan have a really nice dynamic, she seems to make him more human as character. What do you think it is about her that brings that out of him?
JS: Well honestly, I think it’s just getting to connect with someone who is his family; someone who understands him and has a little bit of his blood. Everyone is involved in giving back to the public or been involved in public service to some degree, so she’s always been around it. I think she’s got a really kind spirit, and Ryan sees himself in that in a lot of ways. She’s unpredictable and possibly dangerous, keeping him on his toes. I think in the last episode, that’s leading into Monday night’s episode, she’s on the train. That’s something that Ryan would do. I think in her energy and her spirit he really connects with her and allows himself to sort of use that relationship.
TDQ: And speaking of Ryan, he’s played by the fabulous Kevin Bacon. What’s it been like working with him?
JS: Again, really intimidating! He’s just the nicest guy in the world and he’s super funny. He keeps me cracking up. But, I’m so very aware of the caliber of the things he’s worked. And I’m not wanting to bug him by asking too many questions, but I’m taking a course online through UCLA and we were studying Animal House and so I had I had a long discussion with him on set the other day about his role in Animal House. At all times, it’s just so cool that I’m getting to work with him. I’m definitely enjoying it!
The Daily Quirk would like to thank Jessica Stroup for taking the time to chat! To find out more about Jessica, you can follow her on Twitter and catch her in The Following on Fox Mondays at 9pm EST.