The two actors have spent long hours facing each other across the poker table. (More on that in a minute.) But when The Originals premieres this Thursday (The CW, 9/8c), they’ll be battling for something much greater: control of New Orleans.
Below, Morgan and Davis talk about creating chemistry on screen, who gets the better historical costumes and why the season premiere will look familiar and unfamiliar at the same time .
TVLINE | Most of the Originals cast knew each other because they were coming from The Vampire Diaries. Charles, what was it like coming into this group?
CHARLES MICHAEL DAVIS | Well, I knew Joseph. We used to play poker, so I knew going into it that [he] was enthusiastic and smart and talented.
JOSEPH MORGAN | You can pay me later. [Laughs]
DAVIS | So there was a lot of trust there that the rest of the crew would be of a similar quality. It was pretty easy to just fall in line.
TVLINE | You had chemistry right from the first scene you shared. Do you attribute that to the fact that you knew each other?
MORGAN | Partly, there was a history to draw on of Charles taking my money week after week at the poker table. But also, the excitement of going into a new show… Charles brings a real vivacious energy to the screen. Then with what I’m bringing, together that creates the chemistry. Part of that is just the joy and excitement of, “We’re working actors!” We’re doing something we’re enthusiastic about.
TVLINE | And now you get revenge for him taking all your money.
DAVIS | [Laughs] Yeah. I think it’s also written that way where it’s like whoever’s going to play Marcel has got to have fun with Klaus. It’s just written in a way that allows us to express that same enthusiasm and friendship that we already have, in front of the camera.
MORGAN | It’s a fantastically complex relationship. It’s not as simple as “We were friends, and now I have this agenda to take him down and take what was once mine.” There’s also still a friendship there, so there’s a confusion with how much do we each manipulate? There’s a lack of trust, but there’s also an enjoyment in our friendship. It’s really fun playing those layers and those changes in the scene.
TVLINE | Was all that history between the characters on the page? Or did you sit down and develop it together?
MORGAN | You’ll certainly see a lot of the history – the first meeting. And you’ll see a little bit of what that relationship was in the beginning and how it developed into what it is in present day… We kick off with a couple of flashback moments… I’m so excited about that whole aspect of it because we have the whole thousand years to draw on.
TVLINE | Have you had to put on any weird ancient costumes?
MORGAN | [Laughs] Not too ancient.
DAVIS | [Laughs] Wait till you get a load of him!
MORGAN | I liked it!
DAVIS | That’s what I’m saying. It’s really cool.
MORGAN | I like to ask what he’s wearing before I select my costume. “Just give me something that’s cooler than Charles’. Help me out here.”
TVLINE | Give us a taste of the season premiere.
MORGAN | The first episode is a retelling of the pilot. It’s the same timeline as the pilot, only this time, we’re with Elijah. We see those same events again, but through his point of view. We’ll see little moments from scenes we’ve seen before, but we’ll find out what happened afterwards or what led up to that, how he got there, how he tracked down Klaus. Meaning maybe he has a run-in with Marcel [or] Sophie or Cami, as well. It’s really cleverly put together.
TVLINE | Does Marcel also have a history with Elijah?
DAVIS | Certainly. You can’t be close friends with Klaus and not, in some way at least, cross paths with part of the family. That’s something that will be revealed within the first few episodes — just little sprinkles here and there of how deep the connections go.
TVLINE | Rebekah is also part of the series. Is Marcel feeling outnumbered by the sheer amount of Originals that suddenly inhabit his city?
DAVIS | That’s a huge question that the writers answer within the first few episodes… [He's] not too stressed. Being alive for hundreds of years, he’s got time to manage relationships. That’s one of the things that you’ll get to see through the flashbacks and revealing of backstories.
MORGAN | Let’s not forget: Marcel has an army, as well. He has the numbers. We are three very powerful beings, but he has, I don’t know, hundreds of vampires in his inner circle.
DAVIS | Again, the Originals have been out of New Orleans for a while. There’s some aces Marcel has up his sleeve.
TVLINE | What’s your favorite thing about the other’s character?
DAVIS | His sly sense of humor. The power that he still carries. That’s the thing that I love about having his character in my scenes. For me, it’s like showing off for your cool friend. You want to show them what cool things you’ve got, too, and take it away. “Look at my toy! It’s mine!”
MORGAN | I like the showmanship in Marcel. Even in the pilot, just before he goes into the square and executes that witch, Jane Ann, he says, “Showtime!” There’s loads more of that. That’s what I love about this series – you’re seeing characters reveling in their nature and being vampires.