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, actress Danielle Rose Russell talked about when and how she found about that she would be getting her own TV series with Legacies, once The Originals had ended, how leading a TV series has changed things for her, how Hope is dealing with her grief, how Hope views Alaric, the Saltzman twins, whether Hope could get her own epic love story, which The Vampire Diaries and The Originals cast members she’d love to see make an appearance, the likelihood that there will be less tears on this series, working with stunts and special effects, and what she’d like to see for her character.
Collider: When and how did you find out that Legacies was going to happen, and that your journey with this character wasn’t going to be over with The Originals?
DANIELLE ROSE RUSSELL: When I signed on to do The Originals, I knew that there was a possibility, at least, but I didn’t find out that we were a go until May, and I actually found out through Instagram. I love it. I think a lot of people think that because of Legacies, The Originals was the way it was, but I actually did not find out until several months after The Originals ended.
How has all of this changed things for you, both personally and professionally? What’s it like to be leading a TV show?
RUSSELL: Life is definitely a little crazier. This show has represented so much for me that I’ve wanted to accomplish in my career that I never thought I would, in such a short amount of time, or at least at this point in my life. I’ve very grateful for that, and I can’t wait to do more than just be the lead of the show. I can’t wait to represent a lot for myself and for other people. Personally, it’s represented a lot of milestones an a lot of life changes. I had to move and create my life around this now, but I can’t complain. I’m enjoying it.
Has the adjustment been harder than you expected, or has it been easier than you would have expected?
RUSSELL: Actually, it’s been easier than I’d have expected it to be. It wasn’t so drastic. I think because, doing The Originals, I had a very similar situation. I wasn’t just thrown into it. I had only ever done films that never had this huge fan base. I acted just to act. And so, coming into The Originals and Legacies and that fandom, for the first time, I didn’t know how to handle it, at first, but I have a better grip on it now. I’m excited to do good in the world with it, instead of just letting it eat me alive.
Now that you’re all over billboards and posters, have any of your friends or family just completely freaked out?
RUSSELL: A few did. I keep my circle pretty small, for that reason. I always have. It’s a little weird. My circle of people, they’re always sending me pictures and going, “Oh, my god, you’re so cool!” I have a very normal social group that I really feed off of. They ground me. They’re super supportive. I haven’t had any nightmarish experiences.
How is Hope dealing with her grief about her family?
RUSSELL: She had to deal with so much. Poor Hope, in her 15th year. That must have been rough. Those two years passed for a reason. We picked up when she’s 17, to get through that major grieving point, but Hope is very defensive of people. She deflects. She doesn’t get too close to people. She’s got this sassy, almost bitchy attitude to her, and I love it. I love playing her. It’s so much fun. It definitely has to do with the fact that she lost people who were very important in her life, so she says, “Let me just be mean to all of the people around me, so that no one has to get close. I don’t want to have to go through this heartbreak, ever again.” But of course, she’ll have to. What’s a character arc without that? But I’m really enjoying playing her, two years later.
Is she someone who wants to forget about her feelings, or does she want to find a way to embrace them?
RUSSELL: Those two years were definitely the catalyst for her to be like, “I need get out of New Orleans. I need to go to school. I need to have my own life. I need to not be reminded, every step of the way, of my parents.” But, that’s unavoidable. She still wears her Mikaelson necklace, and we have a couple of moments where she remembers. It’s definitely there in the episodes, and it’s in her personality. If anything, she just wants to do the absolute best she can, by her family’s name.
Does Hope look at Alaric as a parental figure?
RUSSELL: Yeah, I think so. There’s definitely a little bit of a fun dynamic between Alaric, Josie, Lizzie and Hope. They have this fun banter going on. They’re like partners in crime. He definitely represents a lot more than he gives himself credit for, with her.
How are things with Josie and Lizzie Saltzman?
RUSSELL: Competitive. There’s definitely a little competition there. Josie, Lizzie and Hope are all so different. Hope is a little bit of a bitch to the people around her, in effort to not get too close to people and to not make friends. She doesn’t have a whole lot of friends. They think Hope is stuck up, but Hope is just going through so much. They’re just very different. We’ll see those relationships start to evolve into something very different, but as of right now, it’s a little tense.
There wouldn’t be a TV show in this world, if there wasn’t some drama and an epic love story. Where are the seeds of the epic love story coming from, in this?
RUSSELL: Seeds of the epic love are definitely being planted. There’s a little bit of a love triangle that’s not really in full force yet, but I’m sure it will be there. Landon has come into Hope’s life and planted little seeds that could be something, but we’re all gonna to have to wait and see. I’m waiting to see. I’ve been asking the writers, all the time, about what happens with Hope, but they won’t tell me, so I don’t even know, myself. But there are definitely seeds being planted, for sure. Hope will definitely have an epic love.