Producer Kevin Williamson Talks THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and THE SECRET CIRCLE

     September 1, 2011


The CW supernatural drama The Vampire Diaries is one of those rare shows that just keeps getting stronger in its storytelling, making its Season 3 return on September 15th highly anticipated for its devoted fan base. After Klaus (Joseph Morgan) proved himself to be the most powerful vampire in existence at the end of Season 2, wreaking havoc on Mystic Falls, this season will explore Klaus’ motives for wanting Stefan (Paul Wesley) on his side, the growing bond between Stefan’s love Elena (Nina Dobrev) and his brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder), and Jeremy’s (Steven R. McQueen) new ability to see the ghosts of his past loves. And, making things even better, the popular series will now be teamed up with The Secret Circle, which is also adapted from books by L.J. Smith and executive produced by Kevin Williamson.

During a recent interview, in which he discussed both series and the differences between their mythologies, Williamson talked about how the first half of the season of The Vampire Diaries will explore the Original Family, that viewers will learn why Jeremy is seeing ghosts, that Bonnie (Katerina Graham) will play a pivotal role in the story, and how, if you focus on telling an emotional story, the twists and turns present themselves. He also talked about how The Secret Circle will be more of a multi-generational story, with its own intriguing love triangle and balance of power. Check out what he had to say after the jump:

kevin-williamson-imageQuestion: What will be going on with the supernatural mythology of The Vampire Diaries in Season 3?

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: In the first half of the season, I think we’re going to really enjoy Klaus (Joseph Morgan), and him being not only an Original, but the bastard child of the Original Family. Now, he’s a hybrid and he’s lifted the curse. It will be watching what he does. He has a whole plan behind it all, and Stefan (Paul Wesley) is part of that plan. He sets his plan in motion in the very first episode, and we play that out for a while.

Will viewers get to see much of Klaus’ life and family?

WILLIAMSON: That’s the idea. We have so much story to tell, with regard to what’s happening in Mystic Falls and the little road journey that Klaus and Stefan are on, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Elena’s (Nina Dobrev) attempt to save him, and what Klaus is actually up to, that I’m not exactly sure how much of the original family we’ll get to, but you are going to meet a few of the original families. Hopefully, Elijah (Daniel Gillies) will return, at some point. We have no set plans yet, but we love him so much that we definitely want him back. There are so many characters and storylines that are rich, but we’re hoping that, as the season progresses, by the end of the season, it will all come together. We have a bunch of loose threads right now. Julie [Plec] and I worked out this master plan that ties it all together, but it’s a mythology, so it’s chapter by chapter by chapter. By the end of the season, it will all make sense.

You have so many twists and turns and big reveals, in almost every episode. As the seasons progress, does that get more and more difficult to do?

WILLIAMSON: It does, if you sit around and try to think of twists and turns. I won’t let the writers do that. What we really need to do is focus on the character, the character’s behavior, the choices they make, their desire, their want and what they’re after, and tell a compelling emotional story. If you tell an emotional story, then the twists and turns just reveal themselves. They really do. Once you have the emotional journey, you can go back and re-engineer how you tell it to create the twists. I know where I’m going to end up, so I’ll just throw in the other element that makes it all amiss. It’s the fun of the show. It’s fun for me because I feel like reading all those paperback mystery novels when I was a kid has finally paid off.

kevin-williamson-image-1Are there any additional aspects of the novel that you’re going to introduce, or are you not even looking to the original source material anymore?

WILLIAMSON: It’s hard now because we’ve departed so much, but whenever we have the opportunity, we try to circle back or bring it in.

With Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) seeing the ghosts of his dead girlfriends, will that affect his mental state?

WILLIAMSON: The thing with Jeremy is that, when we started the show, he was dealing with the death of his parents and he was on the wrong track. It will be interesting to see how he responds to seeing dead people and what that means. The first six episodes really do dive into trying to understand what’s going on with him. He died for an hour, and something happened in that hour that has allowed him to see these dead people. And, what are they, actually? Are they ghosts? Ghosts haunt you either for revenge, or because they love you or are trying to come to peace with you, or they’re trying to warn you or tell you something. He’s got to figure out exactly what is going on and what they’re going to try to tell him.

With these ghosts, will you deal with whether vampires have a soul?

WILLIAMSON: Yeah, we do touch on that, actually. Within our mythology, what else is out there? In a regular human life, we all have some sort of faith, where we believe in some other world and a heaven, but where do vampires go? We don’t know. It’s that question. We’re going to touch on that, without being religious.

Is Matt (Zach Roerig) going to stay the human character, in the middle of all these supernatural creatures?

WILLIAMSON: We have all these characters who have a supernatural connection, whether they’re human or not, like Jeremy who has a ring, and then you have Matt, who is our last-standing human, and now he’s in the know, as a result of last year. I think it’s going to be interesting to watch him play that out with Caroline (Candice Accola), his best friend Tyler (Michael Trevino) and his ex-girlfriend Elena. It’s going to be a lot. It will be interesting. But, we want to keep him human. We like that idea.

With her power growing, how pivotal is Bonnie’s role going to be this season?

WILLIAMSON: Bonnie is very pivotal. As we left Season 2, the man she loves was seeing dead people. He’s seeing the only two other women that he’s loved in his life, and that story plays out, right from the get-go. Bonnie is right in the center of it because, in our mythology lore of our original family and Klaus, a witch is at the root of all of that, and Bonnie is our own resident witch.

candice-accola-michael-trevino-vampire-diaries-imageWhat will viewers see with Tyler (Michael Trevino) and the werewolf mythology?

WILLIAMSON: The triangle between Tyler, Caroline (Candice Accola) and Matt, who is our only resident human, now in the know, is going to continue to play out, so that’s going to get fun. “My best friend a werewolf. The girl that I love is a vampire. Where do I fit in all of this?” That triangle is going to completely be side by side with the Stefan, Elena and Damon of it all.

Relationship wise, what can you say about Season 3?

WILLIAMSON: The fun is the obvious, which is Damon and Elena’s relationship, and how it progresses in the pursuit for Stefan and trying to save him, if he can even be saved. Damon is being thrust into this role of hero now. We saw it happening in the second season, and it’s a role he’s not good at or comfortable with. A man can only save so many people before he’s gonna flip. My favorite part of all this is writing Damon and watching him be this reluctant hero who is one step forward, three steps back. “I save you, but then I kill three people.” It’s going to be that kind of conflict, constantly, for him.

Now, he’s friends with Elena, and Elena is there saying, “It’s not okay to kill people. You can’t do it anymore, or I’m done.” But, it’s his nature. It’s who he is. So, he still battles a lot of that, and also his romantic feelings for her. And, she’s going to be faced with what Katherine said at the end of the show, which is that it’s okay to love both of them, because it might not be. Not for her. That was Katherine’s choice, but it may not be Elena’s choice. That’s going to be the rest of our series. It’s that one line she uttered. She does love both of them, but it’s what she does about it. You can love a lot of people, but it’s the actions you take. It’s going to be her turn, which I’m so excited about.

What is it about L.J. Smith’s novels that make them easy to adapt for television?

WILLIAMSON: “Easy” is not in the universe here. It’s not easy. It’s a challenge, which is why it’s fun, but it’s actually really hard. What I love so much about L.J. Smith’s world is that she taps into the stuff that I love. She taps into my happy place, which is a lot of the growing up, coming of age, and teen angst stuff, but then she mixes it with genre, which I love, and spins it all around. One of the challenges is adapting that to a series because there is a series of books. She really delves into the history, and the past and future, and all these different areas. To serialize that into a weekly story and build the mythology, it is a challenge. With the pace and the storytelling that I like to generate, it’s often hard, but it’s also fun. I love L.J. Smith. The betrayal, the deceit, the friendship, the loyalty, the love, the murder and the mayhem is all of the stuff that is my happy place. So, I take my hat off to L.J. and thank her. She’s made it easy and hard for me, all at the same time.

thomas-dekker-britt-robertson-secret-circle-imageWill The Secret Circle eventually be an inter-generational war?

WILLIAMSON: Yeah. There is this idea of what happened 16 years ago, that chased Cassie’s mother from this town. What was so horrific? As our new Circle tries to uncover that, for fear of their own future, a lot of those discoveries do go inter-generational. We have the Dawn and Charles Circle, but we also have Jane, who is Cassie’s grandmother, who has her own Circle. So, there is this generational aspect, if you look at the hidden mythology. It’s a world of villainy, where you may not like what they are doing or agree with the villains, but if we do our job right, you will understand them and understand why they are doing what they are doing. Hopefully, it will resonate in an emotional way, along with the thrills and fun.

What will the balance be, between the generations?

WILLIAMSON: I don’t think of The Vampire Diaries as the younger generation because the vampires are 164 years old. We have this ageless attitude with that show. I don’t think of it as a young show because we don’t stay that much in high school. What I love about The Secret Circle is that it’s multi-generational. I love the idea that it’s not just a teen show. It is very much an adult show, and the themes and ideas that are running through it, while they are young characters, is going to get very adult, very fast. It’s just going to go more that way than the high school, teen way.

Does everyone in this town know about this Circle of witches, or are there going to be people who don’t know?

WILLIAMSON: Oh, sure, absolutely. There’s this town of Chance Harbor, and there are these six families with their lineage of the Circle, but there are also other witches in town. There has to be more than just six. There are a lot of townspeople, and there are a lot of people who have no idea about witches. It’s a normal, small Midwestern American town, and they do not know anything of witchcraft, for the most part.

kevin-williamson-thomas-dekker-image1In the pilot, Cassie (Britt Robertson) goes from not being able to lift a drop of water to being able to stop this huge lightning storm. How do you find the limitations of their power, now that these five have found each other?

WILLIAMSON: Good question. There is that big fear. One of the things I always kid about is that, if you can do a spell, why can’t you just do another spell to better that spell, or to undo that spell. Do the spells get bigger and bigger and bigger, and then there goes your visual effects budget? How do you ground it and make it real, and still tell the emotional stories? That was our chief concern about moving forward, from Episode 1. So much magic does happen in the pilot. You’ll rightly see the answer to that question, in the second episode.

How do you intend to draw out the love triangle on this show?

WILLIAMSON: I don’t know, for a hundred episodes at least. No. I think it will take some twists and turns. We have to take that triangle and get to know them. It’s going to be interesting when we get to know them better and learn exactly what it is that’s written in the stars. There’s going to be a history to it. It’s romance. It will take a lot of twists and turns.

Will The Secret Circle be a little lighter and have a bit more humor than The Vampire Diaries?

WILLIAMSON: These are real people, living in a real world, and then suddenly, they are making this magic. I do think there certainly is a snark to that. Damon has it, front and center.  The Secret Circle is very dark. Our version of witchcraft is very dark. It’s not that hard-edged, ripping hearts out and slicing people open that we do in The Vampire Diaries, but there are other ways to skin a cat. So, there will be humor, and there will be scary, evil, witchy-woo.

What are differences between the mythologies and the powers that witches have in these two universes?

WILLIAMSON: When you do the historical history lesson of it all, it dates back to a place. With The Vampire Diaries, it’s completely separate. It would be really hard to connect the witchcraft of The Secret Circle to the witchcraft of The Vampire Diaries. They are operating under different rules.