Fox’s new hit drama The Following (Mondays, 9/8c) has only just begun, but already one key player in Joe Carroll’s nefarious cult-of-killers game has
murdered pushed her way to the forefront: Valorie Curry‘s “nanny” Emma Hill.
But while the self-appointed boss of the follower pack may seem as big and bad as her Poe-loving leader, her portrayer tells a different story — one that may have you seeing the increasingly ruthless Emma in a slightly less villainous light.
Curry spoke with TVLine about her character’s true motivations, how dark things will become for Emma and the other acolytes — including her boyfriend and his “boyfriend” — and why she still pinches herself with the arrival of each new Following script.
TVLINE | Let’s be honest: You definitely landed the juiciest role on The Following. Were you aware of what you were in for when you initially took the role?
I really wasn’t at all. Every new script I get I pinch myself because I completely agree. [Laughs] I feel like I won the lottery with this character. All three of us in the trio (including Nico Tortorella and Adan Canto) auditioned with dummy scenes and they were fairly open — we just knew we were followers. My scene did indicate this position of power she has with the guys, but that was pretty much it. I had a lot of freedom in that sense, to create a character who was manipulative and intellectual and controlling and all that, but the wonderful thing about Emma — and the way [creator] Kevin Williamson writes her — is that she is whatever she needs to be in any circumstance. So, I feel like I get to play 100 different characters over the course of a season, you know? In the beginning, I struggled with this idea of, ‘What’s the real Emma? What’s the lie? What’s the truth?’ But the scary and amazing and totally freeing thing about her is that it’s all true. She is manipulative and she’ll do what she has to do, but all of the people she cares for she really cares for. It’s all true, but the truth changes from one moment to the next.
TVLINE | Emma’s clearly the ringleader of the trio at this point, and she seems incredibly comfortable with that role. How much of what she does is motivated by what Joe wants, and how much is her own doing?
Oooh… I don’t think she’s like Joe. Joe is an incredibly nihilistic character who is just evil at heart, evil for the sake of evil — and that’s not her. The center of Emma is love, it’s just completely misplaced. She’s been with Joe for so long now — he essentially raised her and groomed this perfect woman devotee. He’s like a father, a would-be lover, God, he’s everything, so there’s a lot of gray area in terms of what’s her and what’s Joe. And I think something that’s going to come into play as the episodes continue is her finding that out. At the same time, yes, she is controlling… because she doesn’t really trust other people to get the job done.
TVLINE | We saw a bit of the darkness Emma is capable of last week, with her mother’s murder and her sudden turn on Paul. What’s next?
A lot of tension. This is the first time in a couple of years that [the followers] have had to be together. They’ve all been separate and on their own missions, and now they’re back in a group and there’s a pecking order. Everyone is sort of finding their place and figuring out how to work together. Jacob and Emma have a relationship, but she has to figure out how to work with — and possibly control and manipulate — Paul, which is a lot harder to do when she doesn’t have an intimacy that she has with Jacob. [Laughs] So, that’s going to continue, but you’re also going to continue to see flashbacks of their origins stories and our past histories together.
TVLINE | Would you say that Emma truly loves Jacob? Or is her reaction toward Paul more territorial-based?
She loves Jacob, absolutely. It’s very real and it’s very important to her. Something about Emma is that she’s not a territorial person. She’s not a jealous person. And her side of the tension with Paul isn’t about being possessive, it’s about him letting his emotions get in the way of the task at hand — which is absolutely the most important thing for her. She doesn’t have a lot of patience for people who can’t control themselves or who can’t get the job done.
TVLINE | How far will Emma go to protect her relationship?
It’s a matter of what serves the end, what helps her to complete her mission for Joe. She’s willing to do anything, to sacrifice anything for Joe. In that sense, getting control of Paul is part her mission, so she would stop at pretty much nothing. But at the same time, she’s weighing that against her relationship with Jacob, which hasn’t really ever been tested.
TVLINE | Should we expect to see the dynamic between the trio jilted even further by the arrival of other followers?
It’s really a huge network. That’s the thing about this cult, it’s always bigger and more entrenched than you ever expect it to be. There will be new followers coming in and there will be new conflicts between us and the bonds we’ve created. This inner-circle will be tested and at the same time, everybody is always vying for a position of getting closer to Joe. That’s a constant point of contention for everybody. So… yes. [Laughs]
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