'The Following': Jessica Stroup reveals Max's 'emotional' past will be revealed and teases her relationship with Mike Weston

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Up until now, "The Following's" Max Hardy (Jessica Stroup) has been been her uncle Ryan's (Kevin Bacon) go-to girl for info surrounding Joe Carroll's (James Purefoy) followers, but strictly on an information-only basis. Ryan's been careful to keep one of his only remaining loved ones safe from the action ... until he lost Giselle (Camille De Pazzis) on a train, and Max followed her on it.

With a cliffhanger that intense, Zap2it went straight to Stroup for all the scoop she could reveal on what's coming next for Max now that she's smack dab in the middle of the action.

Zap2it: That was an insane cliffhanger last week, finding out that Max followed Giselle onto the train after their knock-down, drag-out fight. What's coming next for her?

Jessica Stroup: I can definitely say that Ryan and Max are going to keep tailing Giselle. It's been really fun for me to play as far as the physical side of this character and what she's capable of and that continues not even just in the next episode but also the ones following. There are some pretty big moments coming up for my character. At the end of this week's episode you can see that there's a buildup between Max and Ryan. It's a big episode. There are a lot of sequences and action scenes coming.

What was it like filming that big fight scene? It was pretty brutal, but Max got in a few licks of her own.

[Laughs] It was one of the most fun things I've done in years. I love it. I love getting to work with the stunt coordinator. It's like choreography, like a dance. We learn how to make it look as real as possible. For me, it's something that I'm really proud of. I have an older brother who really taught me to stand up for myself so being able to play the good guy and fight the bad guy, with that one kick move, that was really fun. It was such a huge production and I never thought I'd get to do something like it.

So Max is following Giselle straight into the lion's den, right? Should we be worried for Max?

Giselle is going back to Lily's, and we are trying to figure out how to find these people. We don't even know who's out there or who's doing all this. But yeah, definitely, watch out Max! [Laughs] She likes a good adventure. She likes to see how far she can take it and she's not going to let Giselle get away. She's ready to step up and be there for Ryan, but it's not always going to be so safe for her. It keeps building and doesn't stop.

So far, Max and Ryan's relationship has been in a good place and they work really well together. Are we going to see that change at all as the season progresses?

Any change is hinging on how much he's ready to depend on her. In the beginning, he doesn't want her to be involved and didn't want to put her in a lot of danger. He's not even sure if he's fighting a just cause but she wants to back him up and be there for him and try to protect him because without her help there's a lot of things that he wouldn't be able to accomplish. She's there for him and as the season progresses he'll be able to use her a lot more.

Are we going to learn about Max's past, maybe in flashbacks?

A lot of it is really emotional. She has lived a lot of life in her young years. She lost a father, and obviously her uncle is going through a lot of stuff, but she's been able to push that aside and become this person who can do her job well. The past is going to come up but never really in flashbacks. But we will learn more about her character.

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Let's talk about Max and Agent Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore). They finally met in last week's episode. What can you reveal about how their relationship might evolve going forward? Is there any chance for a romance between them?

[Laughs] Would you want to see a romance between them?

Yes! Even in that short scene, there was an obvious spark between them.

Really? It was such a short scene! [laughs] But I'll tell you this: I have been working with Shawn Ashmore a lot in the last few weeks. So I'll let you put together whether or not anything happens between the two of them because of how much is going on around them. We'll just have to wait and find out about that. But let's just be straight here: Max thinks that Mike is pretty cute. [laughs]

What has it been like joining the series for Season 2?

I was a huge fan of the show last year and I've been a longtime fan of Kevin's. He's a real talent. He's just the coolest and most down-to-earth person that I know. I feel very lucky that I get to work with him and work off of him.

Fans of "The Following" have learned to be extremely skeptical of every new character introduced because their intentions usually turn out to be bad. However, Max is very solidly a good guy. What's it like playing a character that the audience knows that they can trust?

Oh, that's a good question. It's probably a little less fun than playing a villain [laughs]. But really it's about finding the truth in the dialogue and living in those heat-of-the-moment battles. It's great, because I also get to spend more time with Kevin Bacon because he's a good guy. And I get to do as much action as any of the villains so on this show in particular it's not so bad to be the good guy.

On the flip side of that, good guys tend to have short lifespans on "The Following." Are you ever worried about Max's fate?

[Laughs] Every episode! Are you kidding? We don't find out what happens until you get a phone call right before they release the scripts to the cast and crew. I haven't gotten "the phone call" yet, which makes me relieved because I get to be on the show a little longer. But we have no idea. It is [executive producer] Kevin Williamson's brilliant mind and I trust his story.

What are you most excited for fans to see play out this season?

So much. I can't even say. There's a lot of stuff that comes that you're just not going to be ready for. There's a lot of building action and drama that people are just not going to expect. It's a really fun season and I hope people will stick around to watch what happens with the core characters. And there's a big moment between Ryan and Max near the end of the next episode. You don't want to miss it.

"The Following" airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

Photo/Video credit: FOX
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