In the latest episode of The CW series Legacies, entitled “Let’s Just Finish the Dance,” the Miss Mystic Falls pageant, and all of the competition and stress that accompanies it, forced Hope (Danielle Rose Russell) to deal with all of the emotions that she’s been trying to compartmentalize for some time now. And with the fallout of her actions leaving her and Landon (Aria Shahghasemi) on the outs, Hope will turn to Lizzie (Jenny Boyd) to help her make things right.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Danielle Rose Russell (who has given a terrific and beautifully nuanced performance this season) talked about Hope’s participation in the Miss Mystic Falls pageant, what she thought about the meaning behind the special dress that Hope wore, the dynamic between Hope and Lizzie, why she only screams once per season, Hope and Landon’s relationship, her reaction to learning about what Landon actually is, why she loves the idea of Hosie (Hope and Josie), how she feels about the season finale, and what she’s most enjoyed about Hope’s journey this season.
Collider: Clearly, Hope has been having a rough time of things lately, with everything that she’s been going through. So, do all of those bad things help make the fact that she has to be in the Miss Mystic Falls pageant seem a little less awful, or does it just feel like the cherry on top of the awfulness cake?
DANIELLE ROSE RUSSELL: I think she thinks that it’s gonna help her, which is why she even agreed to do it and doesn’t put up much of a fight because, more than anything, she really needs to be distracted. But, it definitely is the cherry on top of the awfulness cake.
As much as she protests all of this, do you think Hope also is at least a tiny bit secretly happy that she decided to do this pageant?
RUSSELL: I think that there’s a part of her that allows herself to pay tribute to the Mikaelson way. The Mikaelsons were always throwing balls and parties and extravagant get-togethers, or whatever you want to call them, so there’s a part of her that allows herself to be into that a little bit. Of course, she is very much a girl, and I think that she does like to get into a dress and put her make-up on and do her hair. But honestly, she probably mostly wants nothing to do with this. It’s just that, with all of the things that have happened recently, she’s almost forced to do it. She has no other choice.
In order to win this pageant, she finds herself taking advice from Lizzie (Jenny Boyd), which just doesn’t seem like it can go well. What did you enjoy about getting to explore what the two of them can accomplish together, when they’re not annoying each other?
RUSSELL: You see how they do help each other. It’s definitely an interesting dynamic that has mostly occurred off screen. When Legacies picked up, we never really saw the history between both of the twins. There are definitely more developments that need to happen, with both of the twins, though Hope’s relationship with Lizzie does become significant and they do help each other out, in the face of danger. I always think it’s really nice to see characters band together and fight for what they all believe in.
It’s certainly cathartic, any time you have a lot of stress and things going on, to just go into a wide open space and scream. What was it like to shoot that, and how many times did you have to scream?
RUSSELL: Well, I did a lot of screaming in The Originals, and I hurt my voice so badly that I said, “I can’t scream, if you want me to be able to work, for like the next three days.” So, what I usually do is that I scream once in the season, and we’ll just use that scream, all throughout, or extend it, or do whatever we need to do. And then, I open my mouth and pretend like I’m screaming, the whole time. So, it’s a little secret, but in order to save my voice and work, I couldn’t actually scream.
I love that the dress Hope wears for Miss Mystic Falls turns out to have more meaning than even she realizes. What was your own personal reaction to learning about the dress that you’d be wearing and what the meaning was behind it?
RUSSELL: I was definitely surprised. I did a lot of thinking about it because, to me, it didn’t really seem like something that would cause the reaction that it did. I realized that it wasn’t just the dress. It was so many more things that had happened to Hope, between Landon and all of these different things that had happened that really forced her to just cry. The dress is just a literal reminder of the fact that she doesn’t have her dad, who is the person that she probably would have gone to about something like this. She doesn’t really have anyone, so it’s like seeing a little girl just needing her dad. The dress just happened to be playing that role. But it was definitely a process to try to get the dress to work because, obviously, it was made for someone seven inches taller than I am. I’m actually very short, so it was definitely a struggle. Our fashion department spent countless hours trying to make it work, and it did.
When you’re doing a Miss Mystic Falls episode, because it has played such a role in the lifespan of this universe, do you feel an extra sense of responsibility, in doing your version of that?
RUSSELL: Yeah. On the day of shooting it, I was like, “Oh, I’m Miss Mystic Falls.” I watched that episode of The Vampire Diaries when I was 11 years old, so on that day of shooting, I was like, “I’m Miss Mystic Falls. This is a little weird.” How life comes full circle, sometimes. Our director, Geoff Shotz, has done three other Miss Mystic Falls episodes, so I was jaded about the dress and he was jaded over doing the episode. He was like, “I can’t, with Miss Mystic Falls. This just never dies.” It was very funny, and we had a lot of fun.
What do you think about the relationship between Hope and Landon, at this point? Are you optimistic for their future, or are you just sort of always waiting for the other shoe to drop, especially on this show?
RUSSELL: I’m definitely always waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I think it’s the relationship that makes the most sense for Hope. Their journey together is gonna be one of ups and downs, but I have a lot of hope and faith in their love, and I know that they care for each other. We’ll see what happens with that. It definitely will play a huge part in how the season ends, but for now, just stay tuned.
What was your own reaction to finally learning what Landon actually is?
RUSSELL: I read that script in the hair and make-up trailer, literally seconds after production delivered it to everyone. I skimmed through it and got to the very end, and I literally started to scream. I was like, “Oh, my gosh, you guys aren’t gonna believe what Landon is!” I got everyone so excited about it, and I called Aria because he wasn’t on set. He had gone home because he wasn’t in the episode before that one, and I was like, “You have to call me back, as soon as you can. You’re not gonna believe what you are. It’s so cool!” I’ve been holding in this secret for so long. I’d do interviews and be like, “We’re gonna explore what Landon is, and we’ve never explored it before, in this way.” Now that it’s finally out, I can take a deep breath because everyone is experiencing what I’ve been experiencing for months.
It’s so cool that a universe like this, that’s been around for so many seasons and three different shows, can still find so many new aspects to explore. There’s been so much new stuff, this season, that I never expected, that’s made the show so cool to watch.
RUSSELL: Yes, I think so, too. What was important for Legacies to actually be a successful show is that we had to introduce new mythology. We definitely have, and it still lives in the same world, but these mythological creatures and beings and magic have also existed for millenniums, and they’re now revealing themselves in Legacies. It’s been a lot of fun to explore new mythology.
Are you surprised at how much “Hosie” has become a thing, and how much people are loving the idea of Hope and Josie?
RUSSELL: Yes! We’re very surprised. We talk about it, all the time. It’s funny because Kaylee [Bryant] and I call each other our wives. It’s why we started the whole Hosie thing, and it really caught on with people. We wanted to see that relationship happen when it was right, so in the alternate universe, you saw Hope and Josie get very flirty, I guess you could say. That definitely felt like the right time for that. If it doesn’t make sense, then obviously we would never want anything that doesn’t make sense to be in the show. But I think it definitely fit into the story, as well as it could.
Without giving anything away, what was your reaction, the first time that you read the season finale script? How did you feel about where Hope will be left, at the end of this season?
RUSSELL: I had heard rumors about how our season was gonna end, since the middle the season. We all talked about it and said, “Oh, my god, if the season ends that way, that would be so cool. It makes total sense.” Like everything, so much information had already been revealed, at that point, so it was something that made the most sense, for Hope and this entire world. So, when I finally got the script, I was very, very happy to see that that’s what happens, and I can’t wait for the audience to see it, too. I think it’s gonna really, really shock people.
Over the course of this season, Hope has gone from being totally closed off, emotionally, and pushing everyone away, to having friends, having a boyfriend, and opening herself up enough to actually care for people and to let people care about her. How do you feel about her evolution, this season? What has been your favorite thing about telling her story?
RUSSELL: I’ve really loved her evolution this season. I think that the only way for the character to develop properly, and to do justice to her and her process for what she’s gone through, was for her to love, and to develop relationships and friendships, so I’m happy that she’s beginning to do so. In the beginning of the season, she goes on a journey from being vengeful, and having vengeful reactions to people that have hurt her, to forgiving and to seeing her be loved, and that’s really been beautiful. I hope I can continue to do that. I have a lot of hopes for her, for Season 2, and I’m really excited to see what everyone thinks about how the season ends.
Legacies airs on Thursday nights on The CW.