The Secret Circle's Gale Harold Talks Crystals, Madness, and Tornadoes of Pain

If you think it's hard to be a teenager in Chance Harbor, just look at the grown-ups! They basically have nothing to do but bicker over quartz and become alcoholics. Not so coincidentally, the same lack of activity seems to be true of the older actors on the show. For most of this season, The Secret Circle's star-studded roster of parents has been trapped in a loop of aimless scheming and plagued by a complete lack of awareness of what their kids have been up to (not to mention the fact that they were all in mortal danger). But that's all changed with the arrival of John Blackwell, whose appearance has amped up the parents' role considerably, particularly Gale Harold's Charles Meade. The man who began the series as a Darth Vader-esque walking nightmare was quickly transformed into a doormat, but Blackwell has awakened the spirit of vengeance in him and the season now appears to be headed for an exciting showdown. In other words, the grown-ups of Chance Harbor are finally starting to get their due.

Last week, Gale Harold was kind enough to let me badger him with dumb questions and he told me all about what he thinks of Charles' brain, his least favorite acting mistake, and also...you guessed it: crystals.


Charles has some pretty interesting psychology. Do you feel like you have him figured out by now or does every script shed a new light on him?

I don't think that I've figured him out because I don't think he can be figured out. He's got so many problems. He's got so many things he's got to solve or convince himself that he's solving or deal with the fact that he's already convinced himself that he's solved them. Which is the behavior of a madman. There's no way. Just everything he does is kind of doomed, right? And so he's just scrambling to survive. Which is great for me because there's always something around the corner. You can't predict it.


He had one of TV's greatest introductory scenes, but then he became a little bit of a doormat. Were you kind of disappointed when he got less scary or were you happy for the nuance?

Always happy for the nuance. It's also structural, I think. You've got a lot of characters, you have multiple stories. I could be wrong about this, but if you push one character in one direction too soon, you kind of get stuck. So, I think that's what Kevin and Andrew had in mind, and that's what they're doing. They're actively destabilizing things, which for storytelling is great because you're always cleaning up messes. And with a bunch of witches that's a good thing, because they create a lot of messes.


So the shift gave you more of an arc for the entire season?

Yeah. Yeah, yeah.


As you mentioned it is a really large ensemble, but a lot of your scenes have just been one-on-ones with Natasha Henstridge. Do you even know how many hours you've spent in a parked car with her?

This week? Seven.


I mean on camera.

I was talking about on camera. You don't think there'll be a seven-hour scene?


[Laughing]

There's a big musical number three-quarters of the way through that's gonna blow your mind.


That sounds really cool. I'm glad The Secret Circle is finally going there.

Oh yeah.


Would you say that's an ideal acting environment, sitting in a parked car while a rain machine is going?

I love it. I like rain machines. You know what's really weird? When it rains inside the car.


Yeah, that is weird.

You know, when you roll up the window and it rains inside.


Do actors ever tease each other about their resumés? Like when you're sitting in a parked car with Natasha Henstridge, do you ask her about Species II and does she grill you about Hal Sparks?

That hasn't happened yet. And that's cool.


So it's just all business with you guys. You just get the scene done and go home?

No, we joke around a lot. We haven't gotten into CVs yet but—



Is that a faux pas, for actors to comment on each others' past work?

I don't know, I think anything is possibly a faux pas at any time. But it's not as bad as when you're doing a scene with someone and they are silently mouthing the lines that you're actually saying until they take the cue for their next line. And luckily that's something that Natasha never does.


Oh I didn't know that was a bad thing. Okay. Interesting.

Imagine that you were having dinner with someone and you're talking, and while you're talking they're actually mimicking what you're saying—silently but you can see their mouth moving as if they're trying to say what you're saying while you're saying it. So that they'll know when you're done saying what you're saying and they'll be ready to say what they're going to be saying next.


Maybe they're just listening really hard and it's a compliment.

Yeah maybe.


This whole season has been building up to a Charles and Blackwell showdown. Should we be expecting carnage, like a big tornado of pain to go through Chance Harbor? Or will it be something more psychological?

It's both. Charles is definitely getting set up for a tornado of pain. That's a great way to put it, I'm going to steal that. Yeah, that's what's going down for Charles. That and carnage and brain damage and public hatred. Displays of bad behavior. And just immature activity everywhere. Teenage stuff. Blackwell is a very problematic person. Very problematic.


Have you and Joe Lando sat down and hashed out a more detailed back story for your characters or was that all provided to you by the writers?

We haven't done that. I kind of think—and I don't want to speak for him because I may be wrong—it feels like Charles is going the only way he can, which is into the unknowing. It gives you something to kind of play all the time, because for instance Charles has no idea what John knows, right? And I have no idea what my character knows beyond certain points. So that's very good. And to sit and talk about it, I think it could kind of handicap things. You've got to keep somewhere that you can't touch.


So is keeping yourself in the dark slightly Method, then?

Well it's not really— I mean it could be, but it depends on how you approach it. Because whatever you substitute for whatever it is you don't know determines how you're going to play it. So you could go this way, or you could go that way. I'm definitely not reaching back to nursery school and substituting that kind of stuff.


I know that they're MacGuffins but the crystals are so annoying to me. And your character has had to do a lot with the crystals this season. How do you hold up a piece of junk like that and pretend it has any kind of power?

Those actually are real.


Please, you could get something like that at a county fair. How do you instill such gravitas to something that's patently ridiculous?

Well, all I have to say is if you've ever held one you'd know the answer to this question.


Oh, dang.

Yeah. You know what I mean?


I don't know, if I ever held one I'd be tempted to get a hammer out.

And that's the mistake that most people make. They try and hit it with a hammer.


And bad times arrive?

That's not what you'd want to do.


What is the general vibe behind the scenes with regard to renewal? Are you guys feeling pretty good about it, or are you all putting your houses on the market?

My experience with that is to never assume. Plan for both things or even every possibility happening simultaneously. So that keeps your brain healthy, you know? It doesn't sound like it would, but it actually does. As far as the vibe goes, I don't know. I don't know. We're all being very hush-hush with each other about that.


So as to not jinx it?

Let's not.



The Secret Circle airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on the CW.


Also: For those fans of The Secret Circle who have these items called "iPhones" or "iPads," The CW would like to invite you to try the new Secret Circle app! I have no idea what it does, but I'm guessing it allows you to tap into dark magic? Be careful! Get the TSC app here.

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I miss QAF...
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Haha! I really enjoyed this interview. Gale Harold seems like a funny guy. I especially love all of his answers to the questions about the crystals. "And that's the mistake that most people make." I giggled almost as much as I do at the photo recaps for the show. ;) Good times.
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Love the interview Price, as usual it was fun to read! Also Gale Harold is funny, which is awesome because Charles is so serious and tragic all the time.
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Price, your interviews are my favorite to read!!! I can't tell if the TSC cast is extra-awesome, or if you are just a super interviewer (both, probably). His "crystal" answers will make me giggle during tonight's episode, at least more than usual. :)
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I really don't get your problem with the crystals. Almost any magic "system" is going to have objects that contain great power, be they amulets books, knives and so on. This one just happens to use crystal.
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I dont think anybody would mind the crystals, if they weren't practically the only props the witches ever use. Every once in a while, somebody will ignite the witch hunters' gas prematurely and turn it on them, of Charles's mother will trap Cassie in a coffin and bury her alive. And the resulting human torches and flying coffin lid are very nice. But the other night, magic was used to mess up a motorcycle. The guy didn't fly up in the air and shred like paper, he didn't turn to chalk atop the bike seat and crumble into chalk. I think people want to see more cool objects used, and more cool magic result from it. The first episode had both the kitchen fire (with Charles lighting matches with his left hand outside) and that cool thing in the woods where all the dew flew up in the air. The other night, Jane carved something into the bottom of a chair, and brought back the witch cruet, and that welcome.
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First of all: Thank you thank you thank you Price Peterson for this interview!!! You asked the questions that I would have asked him if I had the oportunity! You rock! You seriously rock! And I love that humoristic thing that you do. Because he responds to it so well. I've always loved Gale for his humor and his intelligence and his dedication to the craft...He's f**ing amazing in every way! But so are you sir. Thank you so much Mr. Price Peterson. It was a true joy to read this:) By the way: I LOVE your TSC recaps:)
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Loved the personality of this interview. I did cringe a little at the crystal questions/responses, but reading it through again I really dig it. Thanks for the insight!
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I LOVE all these interviews.. Price is HIL-ARIOUS people what ya chattin abouttttttt.. Gale Harold better not get killed off in Season 1 I'm scared Blackwells gonna go craaaaaazay..
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In case it's not coming across, we both had a really good time during this interview. He's deadpan, but really funny. I try to avoid asking actors questions that I've seen them answer in other interviews. This one ended up being my favorite one to do yet.
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I think it came across.
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He seems like a very intelligent and funny man. But in a very unique way. Like he's kind of weird, but in a good way...Am I right?
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Just thought of it, but you should totally ask Andrew Miller to let you hold one of those crystals! Who knows, it could change everything you've ever thought about them, haha. Feel the POWAH!
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wasn't this kind of awkward? i dont think this guy liked price a lot...just saying
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I doubt it was as awkward as it came across. Gale tends toward very dry, deadpan humor that can come across as annoyance or whatever. But he's generally pretty easygoing
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Or in print.
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A lot of things sound a lot more awkward on paper. A LOT.
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Mos def. I got into a bad fight recently with a friend over a text message! Should've left a voicemail... lol
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It happens haha. It's a lot easier to understand a persons humor in person. Especially if they're really dry and sarcastic, as Gale appears to be. You gotta see it to understand sometimes.
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Love Gale Harold. He is funny and dorky in addition to being completely gorgeous. Love reading this interview with him.

Wish Miller and Williamson had made the role of Charles (and those of all the adults) a real part of the show all season, the way they said they were going to last fall. Gale is such a great actor, and he's the whole reason I'm watching the Secret Circle.

p.s. Price, don't blame Gale for the stupid crystals.
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By the way, what's the point of asking Gale if he's happy with Charles's season arc? He can't possibly be. But you know perfectly well he's not going to complain, and he's going to say some "Isn't it marvelous" poopydoop instead. The only thing that happens when you ask a question like that, which the actor cannot answer honestly, is that he ends up on record saying he's perfectly satified. Then gullible people repeat that as gospel forever and ever. Years after Happy Days is off the air, you'll be saying it was a mistake to make Fonzie jump that shark, and somebody will pipe up: "Well Henry Winkler doesn't agree with you; he thinks it was brilliant, and one of the most fun things he ever did on the show." I doubt very much that Winkler felt that, but I also doubt very much that he complained publicly while he was still under contract. You're absolutely right about how Charles started out and how they immediately started undermining the startling impression they let him make on the pilot. You should just say it yourself, and not try to get Gale to sign on with you. Worst case scenario: you DO get him to say it sucked, and then he's in trouble with his employers. I'll bet if you asked him how he felt about the time they left his billing out of the credits, he'd tell you fiddle-dee-dee, wasn't that amusing, which I doubt would be his real feelings.
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Hey, Price:



CUE: The thing an actor waits for before entering or saying his line or pretending to punch another actor in the snoot.

QUEUE: The thing you stood in for cruddy shoes if you lived in the Soviet Union under Stalin.



The stupidest thing an actor can do, surely, is think all another actor is doing is saying lines, which is what they're thinking if they're running down the other actor's lines in their head (whether they mouth them or not) and waiting to speak. Jeanne Eagels, one of the greatest actresses in American history, attributed her technique in great part to the ability to listen, because the inflection the other actor uses on his line will dictate the inflection of the reply. She had noticed that this happens in real life. One of the biggest thrills of watching the great Laurette Taylor act, reportedly, was simply watching her listen to somebody else. She was riveting, even when the line was somebody else's.
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Thanks, I don't know why on earth I wrote that word. Too much Netflix?
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Even Homer nods.
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We fixed the cue/queue mix-up, thanks!
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Wow, Price. Rude much? No offence but it kinds got awkward in the middle when you were ranting about the crystals.



Doesn't bother me tat much though. He's a great actor but, for some reason, I just don't like Gale Harold.
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To me Gale Harold will ALWAYS be Brian Kinney. End of story :-)
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I mostly agree, but I do enjoy him in this role.
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I agree.
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Price Interviews are the best. THE BEST!



Gale seems totally awesome, and I can't wait to see what's ahead for him with Diana being the child of his enemy that he raised for the past 16 years. I sense big things for Charles!!
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Thank you for this interview!

Love Gale and I hope TSC gets renewed...
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Well I, for one, can't wait for that musical number.
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They MUST do "Crystal" by Elton John:



We're caught up in a web, you and I

Since Crystal came between us

The knots of friendship seem to be untied

And it hurts me most to cheat and that's no lie

She can swing us both forever

In the long run she's the one who must decide





And if she leaves me handle her with care

Don't hurt little Crystal

And if she calls you long distance just be there

Oh Crystal

The world is your oyster, you're a pearl

But he's a jewel and my friend

I'm sure that in the end, Crystal you'll be his little girl

Oh Crystal





You're stronger than me but I'm sure

That the fight would fall to no one

The cold hard truth is stronger than us all

And it breaks my heart to see us go this far

We're just captives in our separate cells

And without her there's no peace behind these bars.
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YOU. UTTER. GENIUS.
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Great interview, Price!



Who knew Gale Harold would be so funny?! The guy's hilarious!



I love when you asked him how many hours he's spent in a parked car with Natasha Henstridge, he immediately knew and was just like, "This week? Seven."
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Thanks! Yeah he started off just answering like normal but when I started asking dumb questions he absolutely met the challenge. At the end he even said "thanks, that was fun" which is the best thing anyone's ever said after an interview. I can only imagine what it feels like to answer the same questions ten times in a row, and I'm pretty sure ours was his last interview of the day.
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As a long time Gale fan, I'm glad you managed to ask questions that I haven't seen before. I hardly ever read interviews anymore because it seems like journos have a set list of questions that they ask.
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Love Gale Herald. Loved QAF.

Thought this interview sucked! The questions were awful.
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I kinda have to agree with you, though I am a general fan of Price stuff: interview, recap, review, anything really.. he could have asked so many things but he went around with natasha hendrige and car scenes and cv sooo much.. and I would like to see some questions regarding the circle or the elderly -especially cassie's grandma-.. well I guess this time he was not that in the mood..
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Huh? Those are questions for the show's writers.
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You are tripping! Tripping I say!
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Oh, yeah!



People on LSD aren't even tripping as much as this.
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Even I am not tripping QUITE as hard as the aforementioned Kaylin20, is in fact, tripping.
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:-P

I love these types of interviews. Where actors/directors/literally anyone being asked about whatever it is they do talk about what messes with them. It's so much more fun thant them saying 'Well this show is about so-and-so and we do a lot of so-and-so and sometimes the so-and-so can get very so-and-so and so our characters must so-and-so, blah blah, generic answer, generic answer'. Y'know?
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No way! Those were weird questions. Like when Gale was trying to explain how the other actor miming your lines would be annoying! Who couldn't see that!

Oh well - And Yay for Fringe! :)
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