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[Warning: Do not proceed if you haven’t watched Monday’s episode, “Love Hurts.” Major spoilers ahead.]
Another one bites the dust.
Death is a regular occurrence on a heightened drama like Fox’s The Following, and Monday’s episode, “Love Hurts,” was the final chapter for Paul (Adan Canto), a loyal follower of Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). His death at the hands of Jacob (Nico Tortorella) was dramatic, disturbing and fraught with emotion. The moment came when a weakened Paul sacrificed himself for Jacob, who then smothered him with a pillow — marking his first official kill.
“The Following was quite the way to start in the States,” actor Canto tells The Hollywood Reporter following the episode, which he shot back in December. “Paul was an amazing character to have embodied and to explore. To live in this guy’s shoes for all this time was definitely a learning experience and a rollercoaster ride for me — emotionally, psychologically. He empowered me in the end, even though he gave me a lot of sleepless nights.”
THR jumped on the phone with Canto to discuss his alter ego’s emotional death, what being Jacob’s first kill means and what he has coming up next.
The Hollywood Reporter: When did you first find out that Paul wasn’t going to survive past this episode?
Adan Canto: Well, we basically knew from the start that this kind of show, stuff like that was bound to happen in order to keep the story alive. When you jump into a project like this, you can only be working for the end result. You’re supporting the plot. You don’t think individually and say, “I still want to be on the show.” It was a lot of fun, but it was more thrilling to realize that my character was playing a part and adding this kind of plot to the story.
THR: So was his death something that came up as filming went along?
Canto: It was something that came along. I think it did come along early on, and in order to support the plot, something like this might happen. It made sense. The beauty of it was that we didn’t know exactly how it would happen and of course, it happening is only supposed to stimulate the gist of [the story]. I really wanted to know how he was going to go.
THR: What was your first reaction when you got the script and realized Paul would die?
Canto: I loved it. I loved it. It’s a beautiful, beautiful scene. When I learned I was going to pass in this episode, it was a little like, “Oh Christ, tough luck, I’m out.” But then you read a script like this [and] the way he dies, I was amazed; I was excited to shoot this thing, and after shooting the scene, it felt so good. It’s a beautiful scene, and it was disturbing. It was a great experience as an actor and as a person. I was excited to close the cycle that way.
THR: How does Paul’s death affect Jacob moving forward?
Canto: It definitely adds to his storyline. A situation like that, it definitely is going to mark a character like Jacob. It’s going to heighten his sensitivity and his resentment toward life, and add a little bit to the fire and turbulence, if you will.
THR: Paul is also Jacob’s first kill, which is huge for someone like him.
Canto: Exactly, this is [Jacob’s] first kill. Paul asks, and he tells him, “It’s perfect. It’s gonna be perfect. You can do it.” Paul would always tell Jacob that he could do it, and he never could, until this particular moment when Paul helped him out a little bit in the beginning. Jacob’s able to pull through and make it happen.
THR: What does that say about Paul, that even in that moment, he’s still trying to help?
Canto: That says a lot about him. It says that, in his mind, he was genuinely part of something greater than himself and he wanted his life to mean something, to add something to this cult and Jacob’s path in life. I guess Paul is a very passionate guy, selfless; that definitely adds to his depth as a person.
THR: What do you hope people remember about your character?
Canto: [Laughs] That’s a good question because that’s usually a question you’d normally ask the good guy. I definitely don’t want to promote insanity, but I have to say, you remember how passionate this kid was. He believes in this cult, he believes in this path of life blindly, and nothing stops him — not even death.
THR: What’s one thing that you take from Paul?
Canto: It’s interesting, I like the word “ruthlessness” personally, but I think Paul was more relentless. I think I could learn a lot from Paul’s relentlessness, the way he went about things and his faith in life.
THR: Did you have favorite moments from the season?
Canto: The flashbacks were a lot of fun because Paul in the past made me feel like a loser, and being under his skin and being frustrated at being this guy [laughs], it’s interesting what it does to your mind. It’s like gathering all that frustration and channeling it all to the Paul he [ultimately] became.
THR: What else do you have coming up?
Canto: There are a couple of things, and I could tell you soon, but not yet. There are a couple exciting things in the horizon. It’s both [TV and movies].
The Following airs at 9 p.m. Mondays on Fox.
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