Britt Robertson should feel right at home with her new series, Kevin Williamson’s The Secret Circle. It’s on The CW, the same network she worked on for two years with her show Life Unexpected, where she played Lux, a teenager who finally finds her mother after living in foster homes her whole life.
In The Secred Circle she portrays Cassie, a normal, happy teenager whose life changes abruptly when her mother dies in what appears to be a terrible fire in their home. Cassie moves to the small town of Chance Harbor, Washington, to live with her grandmother, Jane (Ashley Crow). At school she meets a group of high school classmates who seem to know more about her life and her mother than she does.
Soon Cassie learns that they are all members of a coven, all descended from powerful witches, and they have been waiting for Cassie to join them and complete a new generation of the Secret Circle.
I spoke with Britt about her new experience with genre TV at the TV Critics tour.
Did you have to audition for this or did Kevin see your work on Life Unexpected?
I think Kevin had seen my work and then they sent me the script, and the day after I had a meeting with Kevin, who was working on the pilot at the time. The next day I went and read for Warner Brothers and The CW, and literally as I came out of the audition they came out and they were like, ‘You’ve got the job.’ It was very short and sweet.
Did you have second thoughts about doing this as you were a teenager in your last show?
After Life Unexpected ended I wanted to do something that was completely different from Lux and the show, because I wanted to be able to keep my fans, but not have them confused about what my character was.
I’d never worked in the supernatural genre. And something that Kevin was a part of in that world seemed so appealing to me, because he would be, in my opinion, considered the king of television supernatural, and I thought that working with him would be such an honor and such a privilege, so all of those things combined made it the right decision for me at the time.
Is there a lot of green screen in this show?
A lot of it’s computer generated, a lot of it’s CGI, a lot of it is indeed green screen for sure, like all the storm stuff. And I think that will be a big part of our show for sure.
Have you ever done that before?
I’ve never done it.
How hard was it for you?
It’s something to get used to. Again, it’s a challenge, it’s keeping me on my feet and I’m challenged by it every day, but it’s something that I’m learning to embrace and explore and hopefully master it at some point.
If you could nutshell your character for me, and tell me the early witchcraft you know that she gets to do?
In the beginning she comes to the city and she’s completely shell-shocked by her circumstances after her mom passes. She meets Thomas Dekker’s character Adam, and all these other people who are actually part of a coven, and then she finds out that she is also part of this coven. She is part of this new generation of witches.
Her first experience with magic is when Cassie and Adam go into the woods, and he tries to introduce [her powers] to her and they make water flow from a leaf. It’s very romantic, very sweet, sexy and cool. It was the first scene we shot in the entire show, so there was a lot riding on it, but I think it turned out pretty well.
What about witchcraft itself, does it freak her out?
She knows nothing about it. Her mother was very guarded about that whole world. Her mom ran from it and didn’t want any part of it, and I think she has no knowledge of what it truly is. And that is her conflict, learning what it’s about and how to deal with it, whether to embrace it or to run from it.
How long do you think she’ll be resisting her powers?
You can only resist the power for so long when it’s all you have. She has no family, she has nothing else to reach out to, so the circle has become her surrogate family and I think that very quick you’ll see that she steps up and [fulfills] her destiny.
Are you looking forward to playing that moment where she embraces it?
Yes, I truly am. We are working with it now trying to figure out when that moment actually is, and I think there’s probably a progression to it, but also it’s about the relationships that she develops and the more she’s able to trust those within the circle, the more she’ll be able to stand up for herself.
Do you think it would be a curse or fun to be able to do magic?
I don’t think that I’m the type of person who would be capable enough to know what to do with it, and I think that’s similar to my character’s conflict in The Secret Circle. Her biggest fear is to be out of control of her powers and to do something that she is not intending on doing. I think that that would be the scariest thing for me as well, for it to go so completely wrong and you end up hurting somebody or you end up doing something evil.
The Secret Circle airs on September 15, 2011.