Will The Following’s killer nanny survive?

Endearing? Serial killing nanny Emma Hill, played by Valorie Curry, on The Following.In part one of our exclusive interview with The Following’s Valorie Curry ahead of the season finale on Wednesday night, she recounts her final day on set and the arguments she has had with fans over why she’s not a moustache-twirling villain.
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Her character Emma Hill has been the surprise package of The Following. Impossible to safely pin down ever since the pilot episode in which she provided the final twist as the nanny who made off with her ward. She has proven since to be a clinical killer, dangerous lover and ruthlessly enthusiastic follower. Actress Valorie Currey, who plays Hill, has been an equally impressive revelation.

In our last glimpse of Hill – at the climax of last Wednesday’s penultimate episode – she had just executed a very simple solution to the second love triangle that she has found herself in, with emphasis on executed.

“I wrapped in early March, but ironically because of sequencing, the last scene I shot for the series was the scene in episode 14, where Emma killed Jacob. So that’s how I went out, which was intense,” says Curry.

“I was happy to go out on that scene but it also made me happy to leave Emma as a character behind. It was incredibly intense. Nico [Tortorella, who plays Jacob] and I are very good friends and having to say goodbye to him as someone I’d worked with for seven months and also as a character saying goodbye to someone she loves, it was all mixed up together and was very emotional.”

In fact, thanks to the habit of television to capture scenes from multiple angles, Curry was able to bid Tortorella a cut-throat farewell over and over again.

“I had to do it many times,” she recalls. “But the first take was actually the take with all of the blood and the prosthetics so we started from the highest pitch. I remember when I cut his throat in that first take the blood sprayed out there was a pump attached to it and it sprayed my face. I jumped out of the car as soon as they yelled ‘cut’ and said I want to go home! It was so intense but for me that’s fantastic because I can use that in every take afterwards.”

Some shows, like The Walking Dead have developed on-set rituals to mark the death of a character, however Nico Tortorella was dispatched with no further ceremony.

“We didn’t really have a ritual,” Curry admits. “With the number of people we killed off on this show, if we had a ritual we’d never get any work done. There were too many deaths on this show!”

The rising death count in the plot by necessity means fewer and fewer characters remain. In fact, you could be forgiven for believing Wednesday nights finale will be a three-hander between Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, and Curry. Yet it is not Hill’s survival that makes Curry feel so lucky.

“I feel like I won the lotto with this character because she is whoever she needs to be in the moment, which means I feel like I play someone different from one moment to the next,” Curry explains. “She relates to everyone so differently. She has the ability to be vulnerable emotionally and connect to people emotionally, whether that’s real or not or manipulative or not. I think that as an actress I get to have great scenes with everyone.”

She certainly hasn’t won the lottery in public opinion, with even customs officials staring at her strangely when they recognise her as the serial killer nanny.

“People on the street are pretty horrified by what I did,” Curry says with a laugh, admitting she finds herself defending Hill on “the subway, the coffee shop, the department store, everywhere”.

“There are definitely fewer people who are sympathetic, but I always appreciate those people because I find myself defending Emma constantly. The one thing people always say to me is ‘you are the most evil character,’ which I could argue about all day long.

“It’s pretty easy to convince them, but it never changes their emotional reaction to her. They will admit she’s not as bad as other characters on the show, but they still just hate her. I don’t know what that comes down to. She seems so sweet that people dislike having their expectations subverted.”

Curry has one other theory as to why “other really blood thirsty characters” don’t receive such fan enmity. “[The character of] Paul for instance, is in the beautiful package of Adan Canto. His ass covers for all manner of things.”

While they say only a mother could love some people, it takes the actor playing the nanny to cherish the character of Emma Hill; although Curry has encountered plenty of fans who see past the violence. “I appreciate when people can see her brokenness or her vulnerability because that’s something as an actor I definitely try to bring to the character: humanity and not just this moustache-twisting villain.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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