Things have been heating up on The CW series The Originals, with family and friendship bonds being tested like never before. Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan), the original vampire-werewolf hybrid, and his Original vampire siblings Elijah (Daniel Gillies) and Rebekah (Claire Holt) are more tense than ever, as Hayley’s (Phoebe Tonkin) unborn child remains under threat from vampires, witches and werewolves alike.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, actor Joseph Morgan talked about how crazy his journey with this character has been, having started as a four-episode guest arc in Season 2 of The Vampire Diaries, how getting to further explore Klaus has changed his perception of him, whether the Klaus/Caroline relationship might get revisited someday, and what he thought of the pregnancy storyline when he first heard about it, while Charles Michael Davis (who plays Klaus’ vampire protégé Marcel) talked about how he came to be a part of the show, bringing a certain level of confidence to his character, and how impressed he is by the fast pace of the storytelling. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
Collider: Joseph, thinking back to where you started this whole journey, do you find it insane that this character not only made it through The Vampire Diaries without ending up permanently dead, but even went on to be the center of his own show?
JOSEPH MORGAN: It’s crazy! I came on as a guest for four episodes. There was always the potential to be a regular, but there was also the potential that they would kill me off, if I didn’t do a good job after the four episodes. It’s been an amazing journey. The fans knew before I did that it was going to be a spin-off. There were fan-made trailers all over YouTube, long before it was a reality. We did The Originals ball in Season 3, and there’s a photo of all of The Original siblings, standing on this big, lavish staircase. Julie [Plec] sent that to Peter Roth saying, “The Originals,” and three hours later, he said, “We need to do this.” That’s where it started. Though, originally, it was going to be set in Chicago. It’s just been crazy, and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be shooting this show. It’s just so fun! My job is amazing! I love Klaus. Towards the middle of Season 3, I talked to Julie Plec and said, “Look, I really don’t wanna die. I really wanna carry on for another season. Just so you know, I wanna be a part of it.” I kept feeling like I wasn’t done yet. I’ve got so much fun stuff to play. It’s just brilliant.
Has getting to explore Klaus, in this way, changed your perception of him?
MORGAN: From the beginning, when he came on at the end of Season 2, I looked for motive in what he was doing. I never just thought, “Oh, he’s evil. He’s an evil guy, coming to do evil things.” I thought, “Well, why does he want to do this?” It was clear, from the beginning, that he’d had a difficult childhood. I knew that he was the product of an affair and I knew that his father hated him, and that gave me a place to start. He felt inadequate and insecure, desperately craving the love of his parents and their affirmation. Just every little nuance of history that they’ve given me has helped me explore further and flesh out the character. I think he’s constantly doing things that surprise me, but that’s the point. He should. I’ve always said you shouldn’t know what he’s gonna do next. That’s one of the biggest draws in the character. Sometimes he’s really kind. My favorite pairing was in Episode 7 of Season 4, where he takes Caroline on that date and they have this conversation and he reads her letter of aspirations that he found by the lake. It’s this beautiful scene. And then, the next time we see him, he’s slaughtering 12 hybrids with a sword and drowning Tyler’s mom in the fountain. Those are the two sides of him. Those are his extremes. I love that there’s always surprise, where Klaus is concerned. And now that there’s a baby on the way, he’s going to continue to surprise us, every step of the way.
Charles, how did you come to this show? Were you just auditioning for pilot season?
CHARLES MICHAEL DAVIS: It was this serendipitous thing that had been unfolding. I had auditioned for The Vampire Diaries many times. I’d say five or six times. The first time I went into the office, I hadn’t slept for awhile. I went in to meet the casting directors, and they were like, “How are you doing?” I said, “Honestly, I haven’t slept. I’ve been watching YouTube videos, all night. In one of the videos, a guy was like, ‘If you wanna be successful, you’ve gotta not wanna sleep. Beyonce didn’t sleep, one time, and didn’t eat.’ I was like, ‘Yeah!’ So, to tell you the truth, I’m doing okay.” And one of the casting directors responded and said, “I’ve been watching YouTube videos of dogs riding skateboards.” And then, I went to lunch and a friend showed me videos of dogs riding skateboards. Flash forward to a year later and I was testing for The Following with Kevin Williamson, and I didn’t get that. A year passed by and I got hit up by the unit production manager on The Vampire Diaries, who worked on a pilot that I did five years ago. She said, “Hey, what are you up to?” I said, “I’m about to work on Grey’s Anatomy. What are you doing?” And she said, “I’m working on The Vampire Diaries.” I said, “That’s crazy! I used to audition for them.” Three days later, I got the audition and, as soon as I read the first few lines of the character’s entrance, I just knew. I called her back and I said, “I’ll see you soon!” And Joseph was playing Klaus, and we had played poker, years ago. That audition was the first series regular role that I had auditioned for that pilot season. I auditioned for it in mid-January, and I booked it on February 1st.
You must have suddenly been very happy about not having gotten all of those roles you had auditioned for on The Vampire Diaries.
DAVIS: Yeah, and to get all deep, it taught me about fate. For every role I did get, it was fated. And for every role I didn’t get, it was fated, as well. Right now, it’s easy for me not to sweat the small stuff, after putting in eight-and-a-half or nine years.
Joseph, was it disappointing not to get to fully explore the Klaus/Caroline relationship, or is it fun to have that still hanging with the hope for a cross-over someday?
MORGAN: I think that the reason that Damon and Elena were so popular on the show and so many people wanted that to happen was because it didn’t happen for so long, but it nearly happened so many times. It was teased so much. So, I see the value of drawing something out. But, you ultimately have to give the fans what they want. That can’t be a never-ending process. I didn’t feel like it should have happened sooner, or that something should have happened between them. The last scene I did on The Vampire Diaries was me telling her, “I plan to be your last love.”
I don’t think the writers are just going to leave it now, and that’s it. They wouldn’t have done that. They wouldn’t have hung that out there for people. But, people might have to wait a good while. It’s interesting because it was never supposed to be anything much. I did that one scene on her birthday where I told her of all the possibilities out there, and that just worked so well that they continued it. We’ll see. I don’t know. I enjoy the fact that there’s someone out there, in the world, that has that affect on Klaus and who he thinks about, in that way. I take that into his life in New Orleans. He carries her with him, in that way, regardless of whether she’s there in the flesh or not.
MORGAN: I didn’t realize that the baby was Klaus’, at first. I knew there was a baby, and I knew it was Phoebe’s character that was going to have the baby. We had just done the episode where we had hooked up, but for some reason, I didn’t put it all together, which is so naive of me, now looking back on it. I just thought she had this baby from a previous relationship, or something. I was really excited about it because I’ve seen how enjoyable it is for me to explore those little vulnerable moments with such a blood thirsty monster. He’s had these vulnerable moments with his family and with his mother and with his sister, in particular, and then with Caroline and now with this baby. If he lets that feeling in and he starts to care, then we go further with that vulnerability than we’ve ever been, and that also means that anyone who threatens those relationships, we can go further with that fury than we’ve ever been. It’s nice to be able to expand.
Charles, were you ever worried about making sure Marcel could convincingly go toe-to-toe with Klaus, knowing what a vicious character he can be, at times?
DAVIS: No, ‘cause I know Joseph. It was just about matching him, and then bringing my own style and my own swagger to it. The character is confident, and I, myself, always try to be confident and rooted in confidence. So, I wasn’t worried. I give credit to Julie Plec and Michael Narducci, and the other writers, for creating such a character that’s so specific. It makes it easy for me to go, “Oh, I’ve got that! I can do that!”
Do you enjoy working at the fast pace that this show tells story in?
DAVIS: It’s pretty explosive. I thought some of the storylines would take the entire season to develop, especially for me having a sense of where my character could go. But by Episode 3, all these things that I wanted to show were coming out. We get right into it. I’m really impressed, I’ve gotta say. A lot of the stuff was stuff that I was hoping for. A lot of the stuff was stuff for where I thought he would go, and then a little bit of it took me by surprise, as far as relationships with the other characters. I could have never come up with those backstories. When we learned, right away, how Marcel got control of New Orleans, I was like, “How much more do I have left? How many more secrets do I have? Am I going to make it until the end of the season?”
How much fun is it to play a character that has lifetimes worth of backstory?
DAVIS: Yeah, and even before he was a vampire, too. You’ve gotten to know The Originals through The Vampire Diaries, so we really dove into Marcel’s backstory. The period wigs are fun.
MORGAN: I don’t know. Like every relationship on the show, it’s complex. The thing I like about it is that, even though there is suspicion there and Klaus absolutely wants what Marcel has back because it was his, in the first place, he has allies now and is taking Marcel apart, piece by piece, but he also still likes him and he’s still his friend. He doesn’t want him dead, really. He just wants him to learn his lesson. He wants the respect that he feels he’s due. It’s nice to know that there’s still that friendship and there can still be that enjoyment, and it’s nice to be able to play both sides.
Charles, do you think that Marcel just wishes that Klaus had never shown up?
DAVIS: Yeah. It’s really frustrating. It’s like the Tasmanian Devil that comes in, like a whirlwind stirring up dust. You just get sucked into it, and I’m the character that’s trying to crawl his way out of that tornado.
The Originals airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.