Joseph Morgan – Interview with a
Vampire Hybrid – BELLO Mag Obsession Issue
Featured in Bello Mag #51 October 2013 Obsession Issue.
Joseph Morgan embodies the seven deadly sins as Niklaus Mikaelson, a ferocious larger than life immortal, whose no-mercy outlook on life leaves his sometimes-reluctant siblings picking up the pieces.
On CW day at the Television Critics Association panels held at the iconic Beverly Hilton Hotel, Joseph Morgan has made a whirlwind visit to Los Angeles from his New Orleans set show ‘The Originals’—The spinoff of spinoffs–Coming five seasons after ‘The Vampire Diaries’ took the network by storm, a show about a town with two many secrets to successfully hold in.
By two in the afternoon, Morgan has stood front and center before dozens of entertainment journalists for the press junket. Given countless interviews, taken photos that will be plastered around the interweb for days, while others remain in archives depending on publication. All the while still having to complete his Bello photo-shoot and sit-down interview. The catch? He’s do back on set tomorrow for work, bright and early. Such a drive and willingness to do all these things could only be found in someone who plays a hybrid of a vampire and ware wolf for a living. By all rights, he should be exhausted. But the London-born, Swansea-raised 32-year old seems anything, but as we finally sit down at the Hotel bar, as he awaits his car to the airport, I got a glimpse into the mind of one of this generations most reckless villains on television today. But not before he politely excuses himself to bid adieu to a fair haired woman. “I’m sorry, that’s my boss,” Joseph Says. His boss being none other than Julie Plec; Executive Producer of a series who has teenagers both screaming and squealing all at the same time. Read on for Joseph’s thoughts on vampire mythology, playing the bad guy, and all things Mikaelson.
As an actor how is it that you go on about playing this character that in many ways, is larger than life. He’s good, he’s bad. Then he’s hard to love, but then he’s hard to hate all at the same time.
I mean, first of all I’ve always been fascinated with the genre. So I had somewhat of a background or knowledge of vampire mythology before going into the show. I watched a lot of films, read a lot of books, and you know, just kind of immersed myself in it. So in many ways, it was a dream job going into this. I just had to familiarize myself with the particular mythology of mystic falls.
In term of the character, first I looked at inspiration like the vampire Lestat [‘Interview With A Vampire’]. The way Tom Cruise played him, the kind of flamboyant, rock star, petulant, a little crazy. Coupled with the idea that he’s a couple thousand years old, so probably a threat. And so, I looked a little a bit to Hannibal Lecter, that quiet threat. “I’m just gonna take off your head and put my hand down your throat and cut out your insides.” You know, very playful. And then you know, when I’m working on the scenes, always try and look at what I’m doing to other people, as opposed to; I’m sad in this scene or, I’m angry. I try and look at the effect I’m going to have on someone else. I’m going to intoxicate you. I’m trying to dagger you. I’m trying to needle you, and I’m trying to excite you. That’s the way I go about it. I like to go in with an idea of what I’m going to do. And then I love it when a director gives me a new idea. Then you have to change everything you’ve thought about. That’s when the freshest most interesting work comes off.
How much say have you had in terms of where your character has gone, in ‘The Vampire Diaries’, and now in ‘The Originals’?
I’ve had a little. Especially in terms of the dialogue, I have something like a get out of jail British card. Where I’ll suggest different ways of saying things. I introduced the idea in terms of using the terms of affection like, sweetie, heart, and my lovely. I took that from ‘The Vampire Diaries’ book. There’s a moment where he writes sweetheart in the mirror, and I thought that was interesting. And then in terms of him, I paint myself, using mostly acrylics and canvas. And I had a pretty in depth conversation about that with one of the writers who also paints. She had been thinking of making Klaus an artist, so that really cemented that. But mostly I try not to interfere with the storyline. We have a really good team of writers. Whom I trust. Julie Plec, for one I trust and believe that she will steer me in an interesting new direction, and so I’m happy.
What are you looking forward to experiencing and exploring with your character now that you’ve entered this new world?
Really, in truth, they’ve taken sort of my favorite elements of ‘The Vampire Diaries’ and made a new show of. Aside from the fact that I’ve always loved working with Claire [Holt] and Daniel [Gillies], who play my siblings. There’s an older, darker, edgier side to ‘The Originals’. I’m looking forward to playing with how Klaus deals with impending fatherhood. I really like the idea that he will start to possibly, against his will care for this child. I’m looking forward to learning more about the relationship between Klaus and Marcell. There’s a history there, and we’ll find out about it. I really think the complicated dynamic they have; being friends who have a mutual respect and a love for each other, but also, kind of deep seeded envy of each other and a resentment of each other. It’s a real complex place.
Which is always fun to “get your teeth into.” How’s that for a pun?
Have you completely grown to understand Klaus?
You know, it’s like life, I suppose. I’d be lying if I said I understood myself. I understand Klaus and his motivations thus far. But I’d be kidding myself if I say I understand everything he’s yet to do. It evolves, and I try evolving my thinking along with it. But, I do have a good grasp of where he comes from and his reasons for being where he is based on his history. Julie [Plec] and the producers, they have a solid grasp of who Klaus is. Flashbacks are always fun because they give me more information and more material to ground on in terms of Klaus’ backstory. But It’s never anything where I feel like I have to change everything I’ve been doing. Who knows, sometimes those revelations can come out. When I found out he was half ware wolf, half vampire, It was a huge exciting thing to me.
How do you incorporate Klaus’ feral side into the character?
JM: I always think about his temper, when he sort of sees red and gets furious. That’s his beastly side coming out, that’s his animalistic nature, his wolf half. However, I play the situation as it comes. I can’t play a vampire, I don’t know how I would play a vampire or a wolf, but I can play this person who has this great power. And because of it he’s comfortable, he can also shut off his feelings when he pleases. These are all things that you can kind of draw from. It’s like saying how do you play someone who’s evil? When I just don’t think I could play someone who’s just evil. What does that mean? It’s too simple; they’re evil; they’re not very nice to people. [Laughs]
Was your character originally supposed to last as long as it did?
No, [laughs] I came into ‘The Vampire Diaries’ in someone else’s body, (Alaric’s body), and then I was contracted to do more episodes as a guest star at the end of the second season, with the potential to possibly become a regular. So I knew if I really messed it up, they’d cover themselves because Klaus could just come into some other actor’s body. But luckily they seemed to like what I was doing. My personal plan was always that one season would be enough. I felt like after that, the villain sticking around for longer, maybe he’d going to become good. I wasn’t too keen on that idea. I wanted to preserve the evil integrity of the character. So about halfway through season three, I started realizing how much of a gift it was playing him, and how well the fans started responding, and surprisingly relating to him, and how much I was enjoying myself. So I went to see Julie, and I said to her, listen I think there’s a common misconception that I want to be killed off after the season. I told her that I was having a really good time and that I would love to do another season. She was happy to hear that and towards the end of the season I got an e-mail from her assuring me that I’d be in the following season. By the end of season 3, there had been whispers of ‘The Originals’, and I was always keen on that idea.
Leaving Mystic Falls behind, what are we in for?
For the fans of ‘The Vampire Diaries’, they’ll see myself, Elijah, and Rebekah, but with a lot more free range than they’ve seen before. The mythology will remain the same. However, with the arrival of new rules and new creatures, new beings and new characters for us to get to know. It’s more about vampires and supernatural beings who embrace their nature and what they are and don’t feel the slightest guilt about it. Julie Plec has done a great job at making sure new fans of the show won’t feel alienated or like they’ve missed the party.
This fashion story from Bello Mag Issue #51 with Joseph Morgan [Entertainment cover] is available to purchase worldwide on iTunes Newsstand for iPad and iPhone.