When Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan) debuted on The CW’s highly underrated supernatural melodrama The Vampire Diaries during the tail end of the second season, producers and Morgan himself expected the mythical original vampire wouldn’t survive the third season. Then, during that year, his mythology expanded with a rich history. It turns out he’s the bastard son of an ancient family, also original vamps (and thus, virtually indestructible), and a brat with abandonment issues so intense that he uses special daggers to render his siblings comatose when they go against him.
Fast forward a season and the Mikaelsons, with their supernatural Dynasty-esque drama (which include their parents, fellow immortals who view them as abominations that must be put down), had essentially monopolized the show from characters who existed a full two seasons before their introduction. Much of the blame can be attributed to Morgan and his co-stars Daniel Gillies and Claire Holt, older brother Elijah and younger sister Rebekah, who immediately inhabited the roles with assured performances that made them fan favorites. The show couldn’t dare kill them off, and their dysfunctional dynamics provided too much material to write them out. The solution: a spin-off, of course.
Now they headline the simply titled The Originals and in a mere half season, have managed to step out of TVD‘s shadow into a supernatural series that is mature, darker, and yes, sexier. Complex talked with Joseph Morgan the same day The CW announced a no-brainer season two renewal, and according to him, they’re just getting started.
Read below as Morgan previews what’s to come and reflects on how the show came out buzzing right out of the gate, and why he and his “siblings” just had to have their own show in the first place.
Interview by Frazier Tharpe (@The_SummerMan)
You came into the universe as a guest star and a villain. Fast forward two years and you’re headlining your own show. At what point did you and Julie Plec realize that you couldn’t kill Klaus off?
Around about season three episode nine. We had just done episode eight which is called “Ordinary People” and is centered around the past of the Original family and it went back 1000 years to Viking times and it showed my brother and sister and my mother and father. In the episode after that set in present day, we find out that my father Michael is hunting us and I had a big stand-off scene with him in the doorway where I ended up killing him. I remember after that feeling like, I’m really having a lot of fun here.
Me and my team and my manager Richie always said one year and we’ll be good, because how long can you keep a villain around before he just becomes one of the good guys? I’d always made that a point of saying that I just wanted to do this for one year. Then after that [episode] I thought like, “I could do another year, they’re writing pretty good stuff for me, I’m having a lot of fun and I’m starting to like Atlanta.”
I went to see Julie Plec [TVD executive producer and Originals creator] and was honest with her like, “I just want you to know I think there’s a misconception that I want to be killed off at the end of this season and I’m actually having a lot of fun and want to stay on another year if you’ll have me.” She was a bit taken aback by it. I think she thought I wanted to leave after that year. So a little while later she wrote me an email saying, “You’re 100% going to live until next season, we cleared it with the network and the studio had always assumed that was the case anyway.” So it was great, I got to do another season then around about the end of season 3 was when little whispers of the spin-off started to materialize. It was a long time before [The Originals] became a real thing.
Was the decision to spin-off more based on fan reaction, or you, Julie, and the writers deciding there was so much more to do with the character?
I mean, ultimately it had to be from fan reaction. Because if there wasn’t any reaction to these characters, no matter how much we love them, I would’ve died in Mystic Falls, as would my brother and sister. So there had to be something there for people to latch on to and relate to. The fans were incredibly supportive of me from the start, even though I was the villain. Partly, I was pretty vocal about my own kind of passion and interest in genre stuff, particularly vampire and werewolf folklore. I’ve read a tremendous amount of fiction and seen a lot of films, so I already was a fan myself, and I tried to make that clear.
There were a lot of fan-made trailers for The Originals. The fans sort of decided it could be a show before anyone else did. It was really fun watching that. Once me and Claire decided we wanted to do something about it, we thought we could present the idea to Julie. But before we ever got the chance, they came to us with a spin-off offer.