A spin-off of the popular The Vampire Diaries, producer Julie Plec continues the saga in The CW’s new series Legacies, which tells the story of the next generation of supernatural beings at The Salvatore Boarding School for the Young and Gifted.
At the end of The Vampire Diaries, Alaric Salzman (Matthew Davis) decided to start school for his young twin daughters who were finding it difficult to control the powers inside of them. It’s also here that the daughter of Klaus Mikaelson, the oldest and fiercest vampire in the world, 17-year-old Hope (Danielle Rose Russell) attends, needing a place to discover who she really is, and what she’s capable of.
Julie, Matthew and Danielle came to the TV Critics tour this summer to highlight their new series. They were doing a smaller and more intimate session, which was packed with journalists. The series premieres on October 25th 2018.
How did you decide that Alaric was going to be the founder of the school? It seems a little counterintuitive to have a human who can get theoretically taken out by most of his students.
Julie Plec: Pretty much Alaric’s entire journey of the first season is these kids coming into their own and demanding their own autonomy, starting to ask those questions. Like, why are we listening to him?
Alaric, over the years, has been a vampire hunter, an original vampire, dead, reborn, history teacher, mentor, guardian and father, so this seemed like the right job for him.
Vampire Diaries started as a high school story. What aside from the supernatural high school elements are going to be in the show?
Matthew: It’s really cool to see this cast of brilliant young actors who are playing these really exciting, cool parts and dealing with their powers, their desires and with the world that teenagers do.
You’re going to have the supernatural elements. You’re going to have the action and drama. But you’re also going to have this window into these kids’ lives that are just teenagers with extreme problems.
Danielle Rose Russell: Yeah. I think the show is very youthful and fun. Even in The Vampire Diaries, Stefan and Damon were over a century old?
The Originals was a show that was extremely mature and was all about these thousand?year?old vampires. Legacies, I think, for the first time in this entire universe, really takes on this new innocence in a way and this new naive perspective from these kids.
Hope was 15-years-old in The Originals, but I played her as this very messy and emotional, bad-decision-making girl that she is, because she’s not experienced in any of this.
I think that that’s what gives Legacies this new kind of supernatural edge that The Vampire Diaries and The Originals never explored.
What do you like about playing Hope?
Danielle: I’ve only played Hope for a year, and I very much fell in love with playing the character. Even in the way she does her makeup differently and the way she dresses, it’s a little edgier.
It’s a little more adult. She’s definitely matured and grown up a bit since things that have happened to her on The Originals.
Julie, were you ever sorry you killed off Alaric in The Vampire Diaries?
Julie: I personally was not excited to say good?bye to Matt on Vampire Diaries. And I was very happy when we floated the idea of seeing Alaric again and he seemed game for that.
In Alaric’s case, we hadn’t been able to mine him for what he was worth as a character before we killed him.
I always said he’s the Giles (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) of the show. He never got to be that on Vampire Diaries, and now that’s exactly what he is.
Matt, what keeps bringing you back to the show?
Matthew: Fate, fate, fate. It’s funny. Every time I pray to God for a job, Julie Plec shows up.
It’s been a very profound experience for me because it’s not just about playing the same part.
When you are involved in a show like this, your life becomes intertwined with so many people and on such a deep level with the character and your personal life.
So I think when Vampire Diaries and Originals ended, it was clear to me that Alaric’s story was not finished.
Can you talk about how easy it will be for viewers who haven’t seen either of the shows?
Julie: We are very deliberately setting out for it to be the easiest thing in the world.
Most of what we’re drawing off of in terms of the past is in the form of Easter eggs and nostalgia placements. We’d like to do the Miss Mystic Falls Pageant.
We’d like to have a shout?out to Founders Day. We’d like to have little character names sprinkled across our town square.
But for the most part, the mythology is new. A lot of the supernatural beings that we’ll be opening our doors to are things that you never would have seen on The Vampire Diaries.
You don’t need to know anything other than just have a love for teen soap and/or like creatures of the night.
Danielle: I think the Easter egg aspect of it and the history that’s infused in the show that anchors it to The Vampire Diaries universe is really wonderful. But I think Legacies deserves its own dignity as its own show, because it really is.
Can you talk about the special effects since you do have some different types of powers come in?
Danielle: (looking at Julie) I’m not going to say anything. Don’t freak out. In our second episode, actually, we have a very exciting, new creature with a lot of CGI that we filmed the other day.
It’s always an interesting experience on set, because you’re like, ‘This feels odd right now,’ and you try to make it as truthful as you can.
I am acting against the little X on the map box right now.
But I think it’s going to end up looking so incredible. And because this is so much more creative as far as the big bads are concerned.
Julie: I will say what we’re doing, specificity of what each individual villain of the week aside, we’re trying to do a nice blend of new-school CGI and old-school puppeteering and prosthetics and special?effects makeup.
We’ve got a house called The Monster FX that is right now building something that I can’t discuss. But it’s so nasty and I love it!
Matthew: I thought that was cool when we did the werewolf transition in the first episode, where they had the old-school effects, when it’s real it just looks so much better sometimes.
Julie, do you have a big bad every week? Is there an overall kind of big bad? How does that work?
Julie: There is definitely an overall big bad that we slowly hint at. We’re doing something on the show this particular series that I have never done before. [It] is embracing a monster of the week, and hence, the monster effects and special effects prosthetics.
Matthew: We’ve been wanting to say this forever.
Danielle: It is so cool.
Julie: I meant don’t say what the monster is or monsters are. You guys didn’t have to keep that.
Matthew: We’re fighting lots of awesome monsters. That’s the most exciting point.
Julie: That is the first time it’s been said out loud. Thank you for coming to the private session. This is your reward: Monster of the week!