Julie Plec Talks THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and THE ORIGINALS
With her work on The Vampire Diaries and The Originals Julie Plec has played a major role in crafting a supernatural saga beloved by fans the world over, and helped define the CW as a go-to network for fun genre television. For years audiences have followed the adventures of Elena (Nina Dobrev) the Salvatore brothers (Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley), and since their arrival in the second season of The Vampire Diaries, the Original family, headed up by Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and Elijah (Daniel Gilles), have earned their own series and an equal place in the hearts of the fans.
During The CW’s portion of the TCA 2015 winter press tour I landed an exclusive interview with Executive Producer Julie Plec. During our conversation she talked about keeping the storylines on Vampire Diaries and The Originals fresh and unique to each other, the joy of writing for the same actors for so many years, the decision to get rid of the “other side”, giving Elena and Damon a moment of happiness, and more.
JULIE PLEC: It’s less difficult to not repeat ourselves, and more difficult not to bastardize from each other. When [Michael] Narduci made the joke that they’ll pitch something and I’ll be like, “Sorry you can’t do that.” It’s constantly trying to keep the similarities in my head so I make sure that the two stories don’t accidentally collide, which is hard because both pitches are valid and both shows really want to go down a certain road and I have to say to one of them, “I can’t do that.”
So how do you decide which one gets the story?
PLEC: I decide mostly what will have a greater, long term impact on the series itself. If a series can get more mileage out of it, if it’s more grounded in a character relationship that we’re really invested in at the time, whereas if on the other show it’s just a plot twist that gets us a good “wow” moment, but doesn’t really have a lasting effect.
What do you get out of writing for the same actors for this long?
And as we’ve seen a couple times now, because you work in this wonderful, fantastical world of the supernatural, if you like these guys enough you don’t necessarily have to kill a character off for good. You can always find a way to bring them back.
Was that the major impetus behind getting rid of the other side? To raise those stakes back up?
PLEC: Yes, absolutely. Because at a certain point it just becomes too easy. Like, “Oh? You’re dead? You’re right over there. Ok, fine, you’re not dead.” And it’s time to lose some characters, too.
During the panel you guys mentioned that we’re going to see Elena and Damon happy for a bit, but sort of the nature of the show is that’s probably not going to last too long. Talk a little bit about striking the balance where fans get to have their moment and see their favorite characters happy without losing the drama.
Obviously these shows are on the CW so there’s lots of sexy relationships, but both The Vampire Diaries and The Originals are really about family, too. Is that a dynamic you enjoy playing with?
PLEC: Yeah, for sure. It’s really about where you find your family, not necessarily from the traditional bloodline. You can love and hate your family with equal measure, but the power of the bond you have to have with them, you can’t really ever walk away. Whether it’s from a book, whether it’s from someone that you’ve raised and fostered like a parent, even if they’re not your blood parent. It’s themes that are super fun to explore because it lets people stay together despite doing a lot of horrible things to each other and getting in a lot of battles. It’s like thanksgiving dinner – all is forgiven by Friday leftovers.
How do you determine when and how much to crossover?
Which crossover do fans clamor for the most? Is there one you’re constantly hearing about on Twitter?
PLEC: Well, you know, fans obviously want to see Caroline, but right ow Caroline is just deeply deeply embedded in her story on The Vampire Diaries. So it wouldn’t be organic. We’d be forcing something to make people happy – and as much as we like to make people happy – that’s when social media can influence your decisions. Caroline’s journey right now is so specific that there is no opportunity, but in a year? We never know. You never know.
How do you balance between having a long term story plan and knowing where your headed, but also taking things as they come and letting the story open up naturally?
Catch The Orignals on Mondays at 8/7c and The Vampire Diaries on Thursdays 8/7c.