One of the biggest bad-asses on television is Original vampire Klaus on The CW drama series The Vampire Diaries. Played by Joseph Morgan, Klaus likes to use his charm to wreak havoc all over Mystic Falls, and makes life very unpleasant for Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder), Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), and all of their friends and family.
While at the TCA Winter Press Tour, actor Joseph Morgan talked about getting to play a character that’s lived through so many different eras (of which he’s enjoyed 1920’s Chicago the most), bringing the human element to the evil behavior that Klaus has become known for, that he’s been pushing for a love interest for some time now, that he hopes he’ll get to hang around on the show for awhile, and how he’d love to do a guest spot as a human survivor on the hit zombie series The Walking Dead. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Question: When you play a character that’s lived for so long, how do you approach the backstory for that much time?
JOSEPH MORGAN: It does go on forever. There’s a certain amount that’s developed for you, through the flashbacks, and then you fill in some of the gaps. I tend not to make up too many solid events that he’s been through because then that informs what I’m playing, and then that’s redefined by the writers anyway. When I joined the show, I didn’t know that Stefan and Klaus had a history together. My first few scenes that I was playing with him, I had no idea that it was going to go back and that you would find out that we knew each other, for years. Back in the ‘20s, we were friends. So, it’s useful, to a certain extent, to make backstory and think about that, but to create anything that’s too solid is detrimental, when you’re playing things, later on.
Out of all the flashbacks you’ve done on the show, which era have you enjoyed the most?
MORGAN: Chicago 1920’s, for sure. I’ve done a lot of period drama before. A lot of my jobs have been that. A few of the eras, I had visited before, but 1920’s Chicago was something that I was immediately attracted to. The tuxes, the style of the whole thing, and the speakeasys were incredibly exciting for me.
What is your take on the allure of vampires?
MORGAN: First of all, they’ve been made sexy, over the last few years. They were always monsters, before that. Interview with a Vampire made vampires sexy. I think there’s something that people can relate to, especially teenagers, with the idea of someone who has an older, dark secret and is struggling with something inside themselves and to be accepted because there’s a part of themselves that they’re ashamed of, and yet they really would just like to be like everybody else. I think that’s something that’s instantly relatable to teenagers.
Are you surprised that there was room on this show for a character that was more evil than what was already there?
MORGAN: No, I wasn’t that surprised. I’m a fan of the genre, and I have been for years. I thought about how I’d play a vampire for awhile because I grew up watching vampire films and reading books. I think the element that was missing was the really playful element of the guy who’s not afraid of anything. Ian’s character, Damon, has it to a certain extent. It was the Hannibal Lector crazy/scary that I thought could be brought in, that’s that kind of quiet calm. I felt like there was room for that, at least.
Don’t you think he’s not all evil, though?
MORGAN: There’s a human element to him, for sure. The more I do this, the more I have to pull away from being two-dimensional evil and give this guy motives. That’s been a great thing about the writing. It’s really helped me because they’ve layered the character now. There’s all these things with his family, and he’s bringing in all of these feelings. That hideously dysfunctional relationship that he has with his father is something that is relatable to a lot of people. A lot of people can relate to that relationship with their parents, their children or their siblings. They are often very complex and can be the motives for acts which, if they were seen objectively, could be deemed evil, but I really think there needs to be something behind all of that. I hope they just keep writing stuff like that, so we just keep learning more and more about the motives. I don’t think we’ll ever get to the point where we forgive everything that he’s done, but at least we can understand it.
Did you know you would get to stick around for another season?
MORGAN: I knew that there was potential, from the beginning. It was more like, “I’m doing four episodes, and if I really mess them up, I’m not coming back.” That was that pressure of, if everything goes well, I’m coming back for a season, at least. So, I wasn’t expecting it, but I was hoping. Once I started, I wanted to come back, desperately, because I’m having so much fun doing it.
Would you like to have Klaus stay around?
MORGAN: I hope he’s going to stay around. The truth is, none of us know, if we’re going to stick around for another season. We all get our contracts renewed during the break. You can guess, by the way the storyline is going, but honestly, I have as much idea as you. I’m not done with the character yet. I hope he’s sticking around for a little while, but that’s really up to them, at the end of the day.
Have you moved to Atlanta?
MORGAN: Yeah, it’s the only home I’ve got now. It took me awhile to get used to, but I like it. It’s very hot in the summer, it’s very cold in the winter, there are loads of great restaurants, and I don’t know anybody there, apart from the people who are on my show. I love it. I love everyone there. I do feel like it’s this little family. Even though I only had two weeks off, between Christmas and New Year, I was feeling like, “I’m ready to get back now and see everyone.”
How is the relationship between Klaus and Tyler (Michael Trevino) going to continue?
MORGAN: Tyler is going to struggle with it. I don’t know where they’re going to take it, but I know that, at the moment, the sire bond is pretty unbreakable.
Will Klaus have a love life?
MORGAN: Something that I’ve been pushing for, for a long time, is a love interest for Klaus. [He does have his] eye on [Caroline], and it is going to be difficult for him. He’s used to getting what he wants, and he’s not going to get what he wants out of this, immediately. It’s going to be something where it’s going to take a little time. For the first time, in a thousand years, he’s going to be challenged by [her].
Do you ever worry about the fact that there could come a point when you can’t be the villain on The Vampire Diaries anymore?
MORGAN: Yes, I worry about them making him softer. I think they can make him more human and more relatable without necessarily taking away any of has bad-ass-ism. I think that it’s possible to have someone who is an anti-hero, who does tear hearts out and break necks, and you can still relate to him, on a certain level. I do worry. I trust [the writers], and I think they’ll keep him as bad-ass as possible.
You’ve got two new Original brothers coming in this season. How do they rank, compared to Klaus?
MORGAN: They’re bad-asses in training, I would say. They are doing well. They’ve started to master the heart-pulling-out and the neck-breaking, and all that stuff. One of them has been around for a good few hundred years, and the other one’s no spring chicken either. They’ve got a lot to learn, coming into the modern world. I think one of the differences is that my character is hybrid, so he’s part werewolf and part vampire. That boosts me up the bad-ass scale a little bit. At the moment, I’m looking back over my shoulder and they’re still way behind me, but I don’t know. We’ll see if they catch up.
Do you know who’s in the fourth coffin?
What do you enjoy most about working on the show?
MORGAN: I came into the show late, at the end of Season 2. On a personal note, everyone just completely welcomed me into it. They could have been really standoffish. There’s no reason why I needed to stay on past the four episodes that I did, at the end of Season 2, but everyone was just so welcoming, like a big, happy, dysfunctional family. That’s why I love it.
What is your favorite part of your character?
MORGAN: For me, it’s the sociopathic nature of the character, for sure, and the idea that you can be in a room with him and you never know what he’s going to do. He could kiss you or kill you, and it’s all the same to him. There’s no clear line. It’s all completely blurred. That’s really where the danger comes from. That’s the interesting thing for me, as an actor playing that. From one moment to the next, he can completely switch moods and emotions, and not be aware that he’s done it, or not be aware that it’s anything abnormal. That’s really the part that fascinates me.
What are you currently watching on television?
MORGAN: I know it’s not on our network, but I’m a massive fan of The Walking Dead. I’m a huge, huge fan. I love that show. I’m doing a fan convention in February, in Orlando, Florida, and I think Lauren Cohan is going to be there, as well. I’m excited because I’ve never met her. I’ve read all the comic books and the graphic novels. I just love it. I’m putting it out there, just in case they want someone for a guest episode.
So, it’s not enough for you to be a vampire and a werewolf, you want to be a zombie now, too?
MORGAN: I’d rather be one of the survivors. There’s something intriguing to me about them, and about being alive in this post-apocalyptic world, where suddenly we define the rules. There’s no society. There’s no formula there. Suddenly, it’s down to us to define what’s good and what’s bad, what’s right and what’s wrong. That’s what’s exciting to me, about all of that.