As Mike Weston on “The Following,” Shawn Ashmore has spent the first part of Season 2 tackling the Joe Carroll investigation without his (former) mentor, Kevin Bacon’s Ryan Hardy.
But, don’t expect their partnership to stay fractured. In previews of Monday night’s new episode, the pair appear to be teaming up, as they pursue the latest batch of followers, in the quest to take down the FBI’s most wanted man.
“I think there’s a sense, as we get into [this season] that the gloves come off for these guys,” Shawn told AccessHollywood.com. “Ryan’s sort of willing to do whatever it takes to get Joe Carroll. He understands that this is a murderer — a serial killer — who doesn’t play by any rules. So the frustration of last season and the FBI being a step behind was sort of procedural. It’s like, you gotta follow the rules and Ryan Hardy understands that to catch these guys, to put these evil people away, you have to live outside the box a little bit, and I do think Mike is willing to go there with him.
“And as the season progresses, you know there’s sort of a point where you wonder, who’s willing to go further,” Shawn continued. “The boundaries are pushed pretty far this season and I think that’s going to be interesting for an audience to see.”
But while he’s tracking down serial killers on Fox, in a few months, Shawn heads back to the big screen as Bobby Drake/Iceman in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” taking on the mutant-hunting robotic creatures – the Sentinels — in the latest offering from director Bryan Singer. And Access spoke to him about both roles in a new interview.
AccessHollywood.com: I hear we’re going to get some backstory about Mike Weston this season. Is that right?
Shawn Ashmore: Yeah, that’s very true. Mike Weston was really a product of the FBI last year, and a product of the investigation. As the season progressed, I started to develop a relationship with Ryan, but there wasn’t a lot of back story. My character was very immediate. Ã¢â¬Â¦ I really think that last year he was always investigating. Now, we see him after hours; we find out more about his family; we sort of find out about what makes this guy tick a little bit. And as an actor, it’s amazing to have, you know, 15 hours to sort of develop a character, so this season I’ve been having a lot of fun with that. And, again, Mike’s primary interface in this whole show is with Ryan Hardy and they’re two very complicated sort of damaged men trying to get by and do the best they can, which is kind of an interesting dynamic between these two guys as well.
Access: Are we going to find out that your character was actually damaged when he got to the FBI? Because he seemed so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed [in Season 1].
Shawn: I think that’s legit. I don’t think that was ever Mike putting on an act. To be honest, when I first read the character of Mike Weston, I thought, I really love this sort of dynamic because Ryan was sort of this super intense character and Weston sort of had this very – yeah — sort of bubbly, naive kind of energy. And I also feel like Weston, especially in the first couple of the episodes, was really the voice of the audience. Ã¢â¬Â¦ But yeah, he legitimately was that person, and I’ve been given such a crazy arc on this show, to go from the guy that we saw in the first episode, who had this sort of hero worship for Ryan and now is moving into a completely different realm of who he is. He’s so damaged after the violence that he’s inflicted on other people and also endured in losing his partners and people close to him. He’s a different person and it’s a really fun arc to travel with this guy.
Access: With Ryan’s niece in the picture, could they get the two of you guys doing some work together?
Shawn: That is possible. I don’t want to give anything away, but being that Max Hardy is such an integral part of Ryan’s life now, and as we move into the seasonÃ¢â¬Â¦ you see that there’s this tension, but there’s sort of a sense that they’re still on the same case and so these characters will certainly intersect as the season goes forward. So I think it’s safe to say that, yes, we certainly interact as the season goes forward.
Access: You are on the cover of Empire magazine [for ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’].
Shawn: I was pretty excited about that.
Access: Although, I guess it sucks to have to share it with like 20 other people (laughs) [since most of the cast has their own individual covers].
Shawn: It doesn’t suck (laughs). I love it. I love it. Ã¢â¬Â¦ I am lucky to be sharing a cover with the kinds of actors that are on it. It’s incredible. I go through the list of all those actors and I don’t know how many Oscars are up there, I don’t know how many Golden Globes, I don’t know how many Tonys, but there are a lot, so I’m in very good company on the cover of Empire magazine. But, it’s amazing. This is my fourth X-Men film, so I’ve been playing this character for a long time, since I was a teenager and I’m 34 now. I think I was 18 when I shot the first one and so it’s just amazing, the evolution of characters, of me as an actor, and getting to come back every couple years to sort of play this arc, and so to see myself as Bobby Drake again, as Iceman, in a new incarnation, a new uniform, sort of a different look. [Director] Bryan Singer and I came up with the idea of aging Bobby. I wanted to have a beard. I thought it would tell a message immediately for the audience, who are used to seeing such a clean cut young man. If you see him sort of grizzled and a little bit older, you know something has probably changed for this character, without even saying a line, so I like the new look of the character. It’s grittier, it’s a bit, you know, we’re living in a different world in the film as well. We’re a few years into the future and it’s certainly, I mean, it’s all-out war against mutant kind, so we’re soldiers at this point, which is kind of fun. So I like what Empire did to represent that, and yeah, it was exciting to be a part of that.
Access: Did you get to see a rendering of the Sentinels when you were working on the film?
Access: What did you think? This is the big force coming after you guys in this film, it seems.
Shawn: Really, the script sets the tone for what these robots--
Shawn: In the ‘70s, when they’re developed, they really are robotic. As the years go by, they evolve into something much more menacing, much more complicated than just circuits and wires and metal and stuff like that. Ã¢â¬Â¦ It’s biomechanical and I think I read somewhere online that that’s how they’re being explained. Ã¢â¬Â¦ Yeah, I saw Animatics, which are basically — if you’re doing a big action sequence, they usually animate them first, so that everybody has an idea of what it’s going to look like because you read this on the page and it’s explained, but when it’s this complex, it’s nice to see a rendering, to see an animation almost of what the whole scene is going to look like. ‘OK, this is where you are in relation to the Sentinels and in relation to other characters.’Ã¢â¬Â¦ So I knew what they looked like and when you read the script and you realize what they’re capable of, and then you see these sort ofÃ¢â¬Â¦ menacing beings that are like hunting you, it’s pretty scary. The other thing too is the scale of them is interesting and what they’re capable of is pretty amazing, so I love what they look like. So I’d seen them before I saw the cover. I had an idea for what they looked like.
Access: What is it like when you’re all together on set and you’ve worked with these people for a long time?
Shawn: Oh, it’s great! It’s amazing. The great thing about these movies is not only do you spend a fair amount of time together shooting the film ‘cause you shoot for a long time on a big sort of studio, tent pole movie like this, but then you go off for a couple months, everybody does their own thing, you come back for sort of like the press tour. Ã¢â¬Â¦ We did premieres for ‘X-Men 2’ in London, and we travelled over there. ‘X-Men 3’ was in Cannes and so we were in the South of France for a week doing press together, hanging out and you just get to spend time with some very interesting people and not always on a set. You get to like hang out and enjoy each other, and go to meals and it’s been a really, really cool experience getting to know these people over the years and so getting to go back to Montreal – and I think a lot of us weren’t sure if we were ever going to get to play these characters again. After ‘The Last Stand,’ and ‘First Class’ happened, it sort of [felt] like the franchise was gonna be rebooted and go in that direction, so when I got the call to come back for ‘Days of Future Past,’ I thought, ‘Oh my God, that means I get to work with everybody, I get to see everybody again!’ And I can honestly say that they’re tough movies because there’s so much pressure, and the scope of it is so big, but I guess we’ve all sort of done it before, so it’s nice to sort of just hang out and I laugh. Ian [McKellen] and Patrick [Stewart] together just make me laugh. They’re like great buddies. Just seeing them together is always amazing and those guys, they just crack me up. I hang out, I listen to them tell stories. It’s amazing. So it was great, it was really, really cool.
“The Following” airs Monday nights at 9/8c on Fox. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” hits theaters on May 23.
-- Jolie Lash