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.
During the negotiation period where we were trying to figure out what it was going to be and how it was going to work, Claire, Daniel, and I stirred the pot by retweeting pictures of ourselves amd posting things that were like mock posters for The Originals. We were generating buzz about it because we felt like it would happen.
What is it about Klaus that makes him such a fan-favorite?
It’s those little moments of vulnerability that we’re allowed to see of him. The writers are very good at giving me these terrible things to do then these tiny moments where you get a glimpse into his soul that makes you think he’s really not that bad. Everybody forgets the terrible things that he’s done in those moments.
When I am Klaus, I keep in mind that my evil comes from the fact that I had a dysfunctional childhood, my father wasn’t my real father, my mother and my siblings rejected me so I’m striving for love and I want affection and I’m lashing out because I’m not getting it. All of these things that build the backstory for the character. When the audience is allowed to glimpse that backstory, to see Klaus as a child or young man, that allows them to sympathize with him. And to a certain extent, to justify some of the things he’s doing in the context of this fictional world.
What would you say The Originals brings to the table that other TV dabbling in the supernatural doesn’t?
We’re a more adult show than the show that we came from. The city is very much a character. We’re very into the reputation that the city has for decadence. And then the idea of a war, I feel like we’re among the most epic shows in that respect. We’re dealing with these beings who are a thousand years old, these Originals. They could only have existed in Mystic Falls for so long before it became a little ludicrous, in my opinion. The stakes are so high for creatures like that. They need to be involved, they need to have epic action, they need to be involved in a war for their species. What we’re really trying to do is grow the scale a bit.
We’re still finding our feet too, don’t get me wrong. We’re a first season and I feel like episodes 14, 15 and 16 are the best we’ve done, and it’s because we’re starting to find our tone, our groove and step out on our own. To say, this is the show we are, and it’s a little darker, a little more psychological than its predecessor.
If I could separate The Originals from The Vampire Diaries in a nutshell I’d say that The Vampire Diaries is more coming-of-age, and we’re more these monsters reveling in who they are and what they are. It’s the end of days for us Mikaelsons. They’ve come to New Orleans to eventually self destruct, to kill each other or love each other, but it’s all going to happen in that city.