Vampire/werewolf hybrid bad guy Klaus Mikaelson is on the move. Having upped sticks from Mystic Falls, he's headed back to the French quarter of New Orleans, a city his family helped build, and from which he and his brother Elijah and sister Rebekah have been exiled for a century. While they've been away, his evil former protégé Marcel has been a busy boy, and is in control of the town. Executive producer Julie Plec (who also works on The Vampire Diaries ) explains more...
What excites you the most about the first season of The Originals ?
The Originals feels deeply connected to The Vampire Diaries . It’s essentially everything I love about the show; it’s a launching platform for all the same wonderful people and the same things, but you get to open up the world a lot more. All of the rules we make for ourselves on The Vampire Diaries don’t apply on The Originals . It’s like a playground of opportunity. The Originals is emotional and scary, as well as sexy and powerful – but it is also deeply emotional and I’m really excited about that.
What is the core of the story of The Originals ?
For us, The Originals is about a brother, Elijah, who has watched his family fracture over and over and over again for a thousand years. In particular, he has watched his brother go dark and really, really crumble psychologically over centuries – but he gets a glimpse of a chance at redemption. And this redemption is not just for his brother, but also for his entire family legacy. Everything is going to be built around him wanting to bring the family back together and reinvigorate the power of his family. There’s a reason they stayed together this long in spite of all the terrible things they’ve done to each other. It’s like the salvation of the family unit amidst of a war that is happening over the control of a town, as opposed to vampires trying to control girls. It’s about trying to win the power of New Orleans.
A key element of the story is the fact that Klaus’s werewolf ex Hayley is carrying Klaus’s child. How much does that factor into the show?
The baby is the smoking gun, the bullet that got fired. That’s Elijah’s catalyst; his call to arms. It will be the thing that inspires him. It will also be what mystifies him. The baby will be a source of mystery for everybody because it’s a hybrid baby and what does that mean? Let’s not forget there’s a lot of history of bloodlines all coming into this one child. We haven’t even started talking about what the werewolves are going to say about it.
Which of the characters has surprised you the most in the writing room for the show?
Hayley is a thrilling character to write because she is the ultimate challenge. She is a character that we know very little about. She is a lost girl who never had parents that loved her and now she’s stuck in a situation where she is going to be this mother. Nobody asked her if she wanted it, and yet she’s the pawn in the whole chess game. The idea of being able to explore her and give her character a rich, deep life history has been so much fun for us. She’s been the biggest surprise, as far as opportunity goes.
How quickly will we learn about Marcel’s backstory?
The flashback showing Klaus and Marcel meeting for the very first time shows Marcel as a 10-year-old boy – but we’re going to unfold a lot of their story over the first season. Slowly but surely, we’re going to give you little pieces of information on how this friendship was born. We’re going to discover what the friendship meant to Klaus, how it ended and why them coming back together has brought so many different emotions: jealously, love, loyalty and betrayal.
At what point are you going to address the romantic relationship between Caroline and Klaus? They appear on two different shows now, so does that mean they can’t be together?
In the very beginning, Caroline is like a ghost in Klaus’ psyche. She may or may not get mentioned right away because ultimately he’s not thinking about love. He’s not thinking about romance, he’s thinking about revenge. He’s thinking about taking down Marcel and he’s a little distracted by the whole baby scenario, too. However, we will get to see her again and it’s sooner rather than later. If logistics don’t facilitate that, then we will certainly let him work through it in the narrative of the show because he had a powerful, powerful feeling for her and we’re not going to pretend like it never happened.
A lot of other relationships cross over between The Originals and The Vampire Diaries . How are you going to tackle them?
As writers on the show, we have plans for Matt, Rebekah, Caroline and Klaus. In a perfect world, we’ve even got plans for Catherine and Elijah. We want to revisit these pairings, but we haven’t got to that section of the story yet to know if they will fit in or not. When we find out, that’s when we will make the phone call, “Oh, do you want to do this? But we can only pay you that, and it’s going to mean you working eight days in a row.” That’s when it becomes out of our hands and it becomes their choice. We’ll have to see what happens.
The characters in The Originals are more mature than the characters in The Vampire Diaries . What kind of freedom does that give you?
We’re pretty bold and risqué in The Vampire Diaries , so we’ve never felt truly constricted. The freedom that we do have with The Originals is the fact that these are not humans that start kind or need to be protected in any way. These are vampires and they’ve been vampires for a thousand years. They have killed people and they have eaten people – and they are at the top of the food chain. We have freedom of behaviour because they can do whatever they want, so there is a lot of opportunity for bad behaviour. I mean that in big, epic, bold moves, sweeping you to more conflicts that will be really fun to explore.
How tough is it to juggle two shows?
To be honest, it hasn’t been tough at all. Ultimately, we’re shooting both shows 10 miles apart from each other, so I think we’ll make it. I think we’ll survive. My goal is to nurture the launch of this new show as though it is my baby and yet never betray, abandon or sacrifice my first baby. It might put me in the hospital but until that happens, that’s the challenge. I want to do right by both shows, so that’s what I’m going to do.
Click over for Joseph Morgan.
How does it feel to be the star of the Vampire Diaries spin-off?
It’s incredibly rewarding to be given this opportunity to explore this great character even further. I joined as a guest on The Vampire Diaries for four episodes and I always knew there was a possibility of becoming a regular – but when that happened, it was only supposed to be for one year. A year was always my plan because I didn’t see what this role could offer me for any longer. I thought, "How would I be interested in this villain for more than a year? Are they going to turn him good if he sticks around too long? And do I really want that?"
What changed your mind?
I started having so much fun with the character – and I didn’t want it to end. My opinion changed after episode nine in season three when Klaus has the confrontation with his father and ends up killing him. After that episode, I decided I wanted to do this for a lot longer, so I went to see Julie Plec. I said to Julie, “I think there’s a misconception that I want Klaus to die. I really want you to know that I want to do another season if I can.”
How did Julie respond to your request?
After a week, Julie wrote back to me and said, “Yeah, you’re staying around.” And then The Originals came along, which was a huge vote of confidence for me because I’m now being trusted with a show. It’s not just me shouldering the burden of the show, though. I know the pilot was very much Klaus’ show, but the first episode after the pilot is going to be very much Elijah’s episode. That’s really exciting for me because I might possibly have a day off!
If the next episode is Elijah’s story, what can you tell us about the episode after that?
The following episode is also awesome. It’s so good. I’m really excited about it, but I don’t want to give away too much of the storyline at this stage. However, I will tell you that a lot more backstories will be revealed as we move forward. You know what? I’m really honoured to be in this position on a show like this. I feel like I’ve struck gold with this character. You can go your whole career without playing anything that anyone really responds to in this way – but I really feel like I’ve hit upon something wonderful with Klaus and I would be foolish to give it up. I’m really, really proud that I’ve been allowed to stay with the character.
How much of Klaus’s character will be unveiled as the series progresses?
Naturally, we’re going to see more of Klaus due to the fact that he’s going to have much more screen time. He’s on screen a lot; therefore more of his personality and psychology will be explored. I hope there are some more aspects of his character introduced.
Which of Klaus’s character traits excite you the most?
Personally, I was thrilled with the idea of Klaus being a painter. I paint myself, and my dad was an artist, so I was really happy to see that come through on the show. I like that it gives him an edge of culture, as well as all this murdering for the last thousand years. He’s travelled and painted, and he appreciates fine art and culture. That’s wonderful to me.
What else interests Klaus?
When I did my audition for Klaus, he talked about being a fan of Donizetti’s opera and I always loved that about him. I always loved the idea that he was a refined monster. I thought that was great, so I really hope they bring more of that to him in The Originals .
What went through your mind when you heard that Klaus was going to become a father?
It’s definitely a turn up for the books, isn’t it? I didn’t see that coming at all. I found out there was going to be a baby in The Originals , but I had no idea Klaus would be involved. I think I discovered the baby news earlier than Julie Plec would have liked me to know about it. Someone slipped up and told me because they thought I knew. For some reason, I didn’t put it together that it was Klaus’s baby.
How much will Klaus care about his child?
That’s an interesting question. I don’t know if the baby’s going to survive or if Klaus is going to want the baby in the end. I know he wants it right now because he likes the idea of an heir – but not because he has any illusions about family. It’s just because he believes the child will bring him power.
Now that Klaus has a weakness, his child, does he want to be king or would he be happy to lose his crown?
If we think about Klaus at the point where we left him at the end of the backdoor pilot, he’s absolutely more concerned with becoming king. He’s interested in whatever will make him the most powerful. He really is 100% behind that. Personally, I hope that he gets behind the idea of having the child because I think there’s something very appealing about playing this monster with this tiny little baby that he cares about more than anything in the world. For me, that’s a really exciting idea. But right now, he’s all about the throne.
What do you think of the relationship between Klaus and Marcel?
Klaus is a little torn about this relationship because Marcel meant a lot to him back in the day. In fact, you could draw a parallel with the relationship he had with Stefan Salvatore in Chicago in The Vampire Diaries . It’s a little different because Stefan was more of a brother to Klaus, and Marcel started out as more of a son – but he’s absolutely torn. I think he’s also insulted by the way Marcel thinks he can run things now. Klaus is very needy. He needs to be paid the right respect; the respect he feels he is due. It’s going to be very interesting to see this relationship play out.
The Originals airs on Syfy at 10pm on Tuesdays from 22 October.