The Following's Natalie Zea Previews Claire/Ryan Romance, a 'Delightfully Weird' Moment With Joe

The Following Season 1 SpoilersIn the midst of all The Following‘s murder and mayhem, it’s kind of comforting to know that the new Fox drama (Mondays, 9/8c) has plans to show the softer side of Ryan Hardy — this week, in fact. But for now, we’ll only see him in his (booze-soaked) “happy place” via flashback, with Natalie Zea‘s Claire Matthews by his side.

“I know that Kevin [Bacon] enjoys those scenes — the flashbacks with Claire — for no other reason than he gets to relax,” Zea tells TVLine with a laugh. “We both can kind of exhale [in those] moments. I find so much of my physicality while shooting this show is shoulders-to-the-ears; I’m in a state of tension constantly. So, when we get to see Ryan and Claire in a happier place, it gives us the chance to breathe. It’s also sweet and it’s unexpected, and I like that.”

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After three weeks of not really knowing what happened between Ryan and Claire all those years ago, this week’s installment travels back not only to when the two were falling in love, but to what ultimately tore them apart. That said, you still won’t get the full story just yet.

“We shoot so much in these episodes that some major stuff has to get cut,” Zea explains, adding playfully: “And in [Episode 4] a lot of my stuff was cut… The episode works great without it, but I bring this up because with some of the stuff you’re not going to see, you’d get a bit more explanation on where Ryan was [at that time] and why he needed to cut it off with Claire. What’s great about that is there’s not closure for the audience and there’s nothing truly final for the viewer, so we have the freedom to delve into it at a later date.”

And delve they will, but not until much later in the season. “Ryan and Claire have a really lovely moment that we shot for Episode 10 — but we had to move it [back further],” she shares. “Still, you’ll see some of that tenderness between them. It’s really, really sweet and it’s very simple.”

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The interaction comes when Claire finally approaches Ryan about the elephant in the room (their onetime romance) that they’ve thus far been avoiding (for good reason, of course). Shares Zea, “Claire says, ‘Look, I know this is a bad time, but it’s always going to be a bad time. Can’t we just talk about this for a second?’ And it’s really nice, because they’ve danced around this conversation in every episode — well, every episode where she’s not screaming about where her son is.” (To that point, Zea teases: “That has to be  a drinking game at this point, right?! If people haven’t made that a drinking game, I will — and we’re all going to get hammered!”)

The Following Season 1 SpoilersIf Claire and her crazy ex Joe Carroll are more your speed, there’s something ahead for you as well. “We did shoot a scene recently, James [Purefoy] and I, that was so delightfully weird regarding [our characters’] relationship as it is now,” Zea reveals. Apparently, Big Bad Joe is good at cult-creating but not so good at taking a hint.

“Joe is just not getting it!” Zea jokes. “He’s just being very much in denial about what the relationship is at present and Claire’s trying to show him the way… She’s calling him out and letting him know that under no circumstance is he even in the right ballpark.”

What say you, TVLiners: Team Ryan or Team Joe? Hit the comments!