From executive producer Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals), The CW series Legacies tells the story of the next generation of supernatural beings. Set at The Salvatore Boarding School for the Young and Gifted, Alaric Saltzman (Matthew Davis) is in charge of helping to teach and nurture young vampires, werewolves and witches – including 17-year-old tri-brid Hope Mikaelson (Danielle Rose Russell), witch twins Lizzie (Jenny Boyd) and Josie Saltzman (Kaylee Bryant), vampire MG (Quincy Fouse), newly triggered werewolf Rafael Waithe (Peyton Alex Smith) and the mysterious Landon Kirby (Aria Shahghasemi) – to become the heroes they want to be, as opposed to something more nefarious.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, actor Matthew Davis talked about when he first started to hear talk about another possible TV series in this universe, the experience of getting to play the same character over three different TV series, how much he enjoys working with the young cast of Legacies, what he loves about Alaric Saltzman, what being the headmaster means to him, how Alaric is handling being the father of twin teenage girls, and whether Alaric can ever have a love life.
Collider: Could you ever have imagined that this would be the character that just couldn’t quit you?
MATTHEW DAVIS: No, never. It’s been a remarkable experience. They love me. What can I say? They can’t get rid of me. I’ve been blessed by the show, by the network, by the studio, and by everybody. There are all kinds of questions like, am I on this too long? Should I have gotten off sooner? But at the end of the day, it’s a blessing and an honor to be able to play a character for this long, and to experience these different shows. You get to a place where you want to work with the people you know and love, and who know and love what they’re doing. You can work with this group of people for the last nine years, or you can throw yourself back out into the uncertainty of it all. God bless anyone who does that, but for me and where I’m at in my life, this makes sense and it feels right. I’m thrilled because I honestly feel like his story wasn’t completed. It wasn’t fully realized, and it always felt unfinished, so it’s just been very hard to move into the next phase. To be able to play a character and to work on a character that has paralleled your own life journey, for the last 10 years, has been incredible. And to carry on that journey with this new young cast, I’m all for it.
What’s it like to be the one on the show who’s been on all three of the shows?
DAVIS: It’s surreal.
Do they all look to you for answers and advice?
DAVIS: I hope not. I don’t know. One thing I’ve noticed, or I’ve learned the older I get, is that I don’t know anything. I thought I knew it all, but I’ve learned that I don’t know a thing. I’ve been humbled. I love the journey that I’ve been through, and I’m now at a very stable and happy place. To be able to work with these young kids, who are put together, who aren’t cynical, and who are eager, young, fresh and lovely, and to be a steward for them, in this new show, is an honor that I take seriously.
At what point did you find out that this was going to happen?
DAVIS: There were rumors floating around during the last season of The Vampire Diaries, but I had always just kept it at bay because, in this business, getting a show made is nothing short of a miracle. You can talk about it until the cows come home, but until that camera is rolling, it’s all theory. And so, I had heard about it, but I just pushed it away. When The Vampire Diaries ended, I moved back out to LA with my then fiancé, and I was booking pilots and getting work. And then, (showrunner) Julie [Plec] wanted me to come in for the finale for The Originals, which then set up this spin-off, all of a sudden, it started getting real and tangible. Then, she and I sat down and had a heart to heart about what she wanted to do, and it just felt right to help Julie complete her vision. I see this as her opus trilogy, and I wanted to help my dear friend complete that.
What have you always loved about Alaric, and what have you grown to enjoy about playing him?
DAVIS: I have always loved his earthiness and his pragmatic point of view. I love that he’s a history teacher. I love that he’s a protector and wants the universe to be in balance, so that people can be at peace. As I’ve grown personally, he’s grown with me. It’s cool to come into my 40s with this character. How I’ve grown, how I’ve evolved, and how I see the world differently now will effect him. I’m excited to finally give him the attention that I feel like he deserves, and it will be a great getting to see his strengths, getting to see him at his best, and getting to see him unencumbered by things that I thought could have been character distractions. Now, you’ll see him plug back into his purpose, helping these kids, keeping the balance in town, and just striving to keep that peace.
What does being headmaster mean to him?
DAVIS: It’s been interesting to find him again, to see where he’s at now, how is he new, how he dresses differently, and how does he looks at the world differently. You’ll see him in this position of authority, of being a mentor, and of being sympathetic to kids, but then also having to pull back and set some boundaries. You’ll see the weight of the world on his shoulders while he’s trying to keep the school organized and running, but then you’ll also see him thrown into the new bad guys in Mystic Falls. You’ll see him leading the kids to use their powers and their ability to fight and defend the town against the onslaught of creatures that are coming.
How does he handle having twins, especially when they clash with other people?
DAVIS: He’s caught in that dilemma because his daughters and Hope don’t get along. Hope requires a level of attention that takes away from the time that he would have for his daughters, so they’re very jealous. They’re very demanding of his time, and they’re very resentful of her, in a fun, high schooly, angsty way. You’ll see the personalities of his daughters emerge in a delightful manner. He’s trying to run the school, be a father, be a mentor, keep the town safe, and maybe go on a date, if he’s lucky.
Does it seem like he deals with other people’s kids better than he deals with his own kids?
DAVIS: I definitely think so. There’s just something inherently awkward about a father raising two teenage daughters. Two young girls coming into their womanhood is new for a father. You’re protective and you want to be a good father, but at the same time, you’re up against the angst of it all, so what do you do?
How much fun is it to work with actual teenage actors now, in these roles?
DAVIS: It’s funny. It’s great. The cast is awesome. The kids are great, and their world view is delightful and fresh. They have this charm about them, and you see that come out in the nuance of their choices with their characters, which is cool. It’s nice to see the contrast of Alaric with this young cast of superbeings and how he manages it all.
Is it fun to get some of the old characters, like Matt (Zach Roerig) and Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen), back for appearances?
DAVIS: Yeah, it’s great. It’s great to see the characters and where they’re at now. I think it’s a lot of fun. It’s a great world and they’re great characters, and fans love the world and these characters. It just has a life, so it’s great to see these characters come back and service it.
Can Alaric have a love life that actually turns out in his favor?
DAVIS: I hope so. That’s what I keep pitching. I’m like, “Please just him find love. Let him find a real love with a real woman, who can become a real surrogate mother to the girls and who can come into the world without freaking out.” There are all kinds of scenes that I imagine playing out between he and his buddy Dorian, at the school, who’s trying to get him back out there, or his daughters trying to get him to date. You’ll see the character in more vulnerable states of existential inquiry.
Legacies airs on Thursday nights on The CW.