The CW series The Originals is back for Season 3, and months after their violent and deadly showdown with the powerful witch Dahlia, a rift continues to divide brothers Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and Elijah (Daniel Gillies), while Freya (Riley Voekel) searches for a way to heal their fractured bond. Meanwhile, Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), who has regained control of the French Quarter, tries a new strategy to recruit vampires, while Davina (Danielle Campbell), who is now Regent to the New Orleans witches, makes a decision that will find her and Marcel on opposite sides of an escalating conflict.
During this exclusive interview with Collider (which was truly one of the most fun and entertaining interviews I’ve ever done), actor Charles Michael Davis talked about exploring the ups and downs Marcel has gone through, his single-minded focus, Marcel’s place among the rubble left by the Mikaelson family, the goal for his vampire fight club, the biggest dangers and threats this season, the state of Marcel and Davina’s relationship, where things are at between Marcel and Klaus, and what we can expect from Marcel’s love life.
Collider: In the beginning, Marcel was this very charismatic guy with charm for days and a sense of danger, but then it was all torn away. What has that journey been like for you? Has it been fun to explore those ups and downs?
CHARLES MICHAEL DAVIS: For me, I see a lot of similarities and coincidences in life, in general. Coming into the show, I had to be confident and cocky, and feel a little dangerous and excited. I had to learn the ropes and be humbled by everything. I looked to Joe [Morgan]. I saw the way he runs and operates on set, and then I would just take the time to learn from him. Now, I feel like I’ve learned a lot, and I feel like I think for myself and know myself more, as an actor. I hadn’t had as much experience on a set like that before, and it’s showing up in my work. I come to set differently, and it shows up in the character and in my choices. So to answer your question, it’s been very revealing, but it’s been very exciting to see the journey. I see the character coming back up, and in my life, I feel like I’m coming back up, as far as being a man and asserting myself. It only took 33 years.
Do you think that rise and fall really affects Marcel and all of the decisions he makes now?
DAVIS: Yeah, it helps him to make decisions. I was reading about how, if you give somebody something and then you take it away, it angers them more than if you just never gave them something. So, for him to have had the city and then have it taken away made him angry. It’s like when Donald Trump went to being $2 billion in debt, then he came back and now he’s running for president. I think that same Donald Trump determination lives in Marcel. You’ll get to see that play out.
Does he want to be King again, or has he moved on to other goals?
DAVIS: Once he’d had a taste of something, his standards changed. He was King of New Orleans and, from there, he was probably going to try to take over more territory. And then, he got knocked down. I think he’s single-minded in that focus. Once he gets control of New Orleans again, I think he still has big plans and big dreams, which you’ll get to see. I can’t give it away, but you’ll learn more about what other opportunities or possibilities are out there for an entrepreneurial vampire.
Everything was ripped apart in the city, with Klaus tearing apart all of his own relationships and Dahlia tearing apart everything else. Where does Marcel find his place, amongst all of that rubble?
DAVIS: The great thing about Marcel is that he can take a step back and observe, and wait for an opportunity. With Dahlia coming back, it wasn’t the right time for him to make a play for the city. You just have to make it through the lean years first, going back and drawing comparisons to companies that go through down times, like Amazon in 2000 when the stock fell, or Apple who brought Steve Jobs back. They went through really tough times, and the people who did really well were those who held onto the stock or bought when it was low. Now, they’re going through great times with a huge abundance of wealth. I think Marcel is smart about the long-term. He knows that there are going to be some down turns in the stock, but not to worry. You’ll get to see what kind of leader he is and how strong his character is when he stays cool under pressure. He’s not brought into the craziness, like the Original family is, constantly. He’s quiet and still, and that makes him a little bit more dangerous.
What are his goals with his vampire fight club?
DAVIS: It’s for entertainment. He has no cable at home, so he might as well just watch people fight. It’s actually a recruiting strategy. It brings humans in, and he gets to see who is just a naturally good fighter, as well as their character and personality, and then he can turn them into vampires. And I think it helps him keep a pulse on the city. It also helps him blow off some steam.
Marcel didn’t have the best luck with turning people into vampires last season. Has that discouraged him, or is he just focused on the next right way to get that done?
DAVIS: That’s a good point. That didn’t work last time. I think he’ll always need numbers. That’s something that we saw in Episode 211, with the Brotherhood of the Damned and turning that little army into vampires. That’s a lesson that he learned. Other than that, I think it will just come down to a struck of luck. As far as him becoming more powerful, maybe there’s a witch spell that they can work out. Numbers are definitely important. They also help with information. If he needs someone to spy for him, he’s always got vampires. Other than just being muscle, they can be information gatherers.
What are the biggest dangers and threats in the city, this season?
DAVIS: There are the new vampires that come into town. New Orleans is a city that attractions a lot of attention. The Originals are a threat, but they also attract a lot of attention and enemies come in, like a destination vacation spot. So, there are outside influences and inside influences, with the Original family. There are also the witches, now that they’re free and roaming. Davina was an ally, but you never know who will be talking in her ear and how she’ll change.
With her anger issues towards vampires, do Davina and Marcel still have much of a relationship?
DAVIS: I think that bond helps with their foundation. When Davina is in trouble, she knows that she can go to Marcel. Even though vampires and witches are at odds, she can have a conversation with Marcel about what to do. And I’m sure if Marcel ever needs daylight rings, he can go to Davina first. She might say no and that’s okay, but they have that relationship.
What does he think of her being in a leadership position?
DAVIS: He feels a kinship with her, so he has to be understanding of her because she’s more of a reflection of him. I think, if anything, he’s a lot more lenient and forgiving. He’ll still be tough on her, like he’s tough on himself, but other than that, I think he’ll always identify with her.
Because Klaus is your ally until he’s not, or he’s your enemy until you’re useful, where are things at between Marcel and Klaus, at this point?
DAVIS: Marcel doesn’t need to be used right now, but he’s not at odds with him. Eventually, something will probably pop up. Klaus is so driven, but he’s so smart. He’s like a CEO. I’m reading this book on Jeff Bezos, and they said he would be so cheerful and he would laugh, at the beginning of a meeting, and he’d be really excited about what you had to show up. But when you show it to him, because he’s so much smarter than everyone else, he’d be like, “Are you trying to ruin my life?!,” and he’d just go completely insane. He said that people would fear him, but they had this respect for him because he’s so smart. You’d just never know what you were going to get. It was nice to not be around him because you could go do your thing, and then when he’d show up, you were held accountable. He respects people who are smart, hold their own, and can stand up to him or prove themselves. I think Marcel is one of those guys who’s just close enough to Klaus that he can stand up to him and prove himself, and they have a good relationship where he’s not so on the outside getting pushed around, like a minion or another competitor would.
Marcel was clearly in a much better position before the Mikaelsons came back to New Orleans. Do you think he wishes they’d all just pack up and leave again, or does he appreciate what he’s learned since they returned?
DAVIS: Just from drawing parallels, I know that I appreciate my time being on the show. We all looked at each other and were like, “None of us are really crazy.” We show gratitude for this. We could have been stuck, for years, with some crazy person. My agents said, “There’s always one,” but we don’t have one. If there are, they’re guest stars and we kill them off really quick. But even our guest stars are great people. I’ve learned a lot, and I know Marcel has learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot from Joe [Morgan] and I have a lot of respect for him. I’ve learned a lot from Daniel [Gillies], and he’s had two kids since the show started. I’ve learned a lot from Leah [Pipes], who’s gotten married. I’ve learned a lot from Phoebe [Tonkin] and the way she carries herself. I’ve learned a lot from Danielle [Campbell], who’s younger but still carries herself in a certain way. And as we’ve grown, our characters have grown. Marcel learns a lot from watching Davina. She reminds him a lot of when he was at that stage. He’s learned a lot from Elijah, and from his experiences with Rebekah, showing him about love and whether you can have love and still strive to be King. He would have never found that out, if the original family never came in. The lessons with Klaus would have stopped there. He would never have had the experience of going for love with Rebekah, and trying to maintain the city. He never would have had the opportunity to patch things up. It’s helped him to learn and grow, just like me.
Does he still see Rebekah as his soulmate?
DAVIS: For sure, I think so.
At the same time, is he going to try to move on with his life, now that she’s elsewhere?
DAVIS: Everyone wants to know if Marcel is going to get his groove on. I’d like to know that. I would think so. He’s a catch, right? The dating pool is much smaller. I always think of Jay-Z and Beyonce. Beyonce is more widely known than Jay-Z. I don’t know if she earns more, but she’s definitely more world renowned and known. When you saw them partner up, it just made sense. If Jay-Z was like, “I found this waitress at my 40/40 Club and I want to make her my Queen,” you’d be like, “I don’t know if that’s a smart thing. That might come back to bite you, in the end.” Marcel has to work up to that level where he can be a leader among other vampires, and he would need to find someone who is at that level, as well.
Are there any new characters that Marcel is crossing paths with, this season?
DAVIS: Yeah, the audience will be pleasantly surprised with the cast of new characters that comes in, and any romantic interest between Marcel and said character or characters. Julie Plec’s shows always throw a little love in there.
Love and heartbreak.
DAVIS: Aw. Simultaneously.
The Originals airs on Thursday nights on The CW.