Although The Secret Circle hasn't quite inspired the fandom of The Vampire Diaries (few things have, outside of organized religion), those of us who love the show do so almost entirely because of its impeccable cast. No offense to The CW, but The Secret Circle's cast is made of up actors almost uniformly overqualified for a teen soap. Thomas Dekker's increasingly impressive resumé has taken him to Cannes and Phoebe Tonkin is can't-go-outside famous in Australia, while Britt Robertson's new indie film just made a huge splash at Sundance. Despite their collective good looks, these kids are genuinely talented and the same applies to Jessica Parker Kennedy, a veteran of Smallville and the acclaimed dramedy 50/50 who plays the frequently sidelined Melissa. This week the incredibly warm (and funny!) actress kindly took a few minutes to answer some of my questions in the lead-up to tonight's fourteenth episode of The Secret Circle, "Valentine."
We're all pretty excited about this Valentine's Day episode. What's the best part about it?
I think the fact that you get to watch Diana on drugs—the Devil's Spirit—is a pretty big sell because she's hilarious. And teenage girl sleepovers are fun, but when you're a witch that makes it a heck of a lot more fun. It makes using a Ouija board even wilder. We also conjure up a hot guy to deliver pizza. And he's like the hottest guy in real life too, just a sidenote.
Are we talking Grey Damon or...?
No, we conjure up this beautiful pizza boy and I swear to God he's the pizza boy I would've conjured up in my mind if it were real life. But yeah Grey's gorgeous as well, he AND the pizza boy definitely pay us a visit during our slumber party. So I would say just watch for the fun guests that come knockin'.
What is more fun for you to play as an actress, being high on drugs or being possessed by a demon?
Possessed by a demon, totally. I had so much fun. Those were like the eight best acting days of my life. It's like, when your director says to you "I want you to be as ugly and weird as possible. And loud"? That's just amazing. So I got to loosen up and be strange and difficult. On a CW show there's this big element of wanting to look perfect and dress perfect with good makeup and good hair, so that plotline was extremely freeing. But when I'm on the Devil's Spirit—not by pressure from anyone else but myself—I want to be fun and hilarious, or you know, sad and whatever, but I still have to look presentable while I'm doing it.
Right. Well, that's important for this show.
Terribly, terribly important.
One of my favorite moments from that possession episode was when you were lying on the couch and you had to get up and creep into the camera view just before it panned over. Do you remember what I'm talking about?
Oh yeah, I LOVE that scene, yeah.
Was that difficult to do?
Yeah, it was actually. I did have to get up off the couch and walk around the camera and sort of get in that spot and be ready, which was really quite tricky, and then it was trying to find the right thing to say, like if I was going to say "Yoo hoo" or whatever. I think I went "Ahem" and I cleared my throat and it worked really well. I know exactly what moment you're talking about. It ended up being sort of funny but also really unnerving at the same time, then the next thing that happens is I lash out this gigantic scream and shove Nick across the room.
You mentioned there's kind of a sexiness involved with being on a CW show. There's a noticeable change in how Melissa dresses and behaves in the pilot versus how she is in the second episode. Was there a conscious decision to make her foxier or soften her attitude?
It wasn't an attitude thing, I don't think. I mean, what did I have, like four lines in the pilot or something? I was a little bit of a Faye sidekick, I was just the mean girl who was there with Faye. But in terms of the fashion and the hair, that was huge for all of us. Like for Episode 1, even if you look at Shelley Hennig, her hair and her makeup and her style compared to Episode 2 is hugely different. So really after the pilot The CW and all the creators got together and said, "Okay, we like this, but it just needs to be up a notch."
It's a little different from all the other CW shows because our characters are from a small town, so they don't have the most expensive stores. We don't have a Bloomingdales around the corner like they do on Gossip Girl. The creators have really wanted to stay true to that. We don't want to look overly sexy or overly expensive, which is kind of cool.
Haha really? You don't think you guys look overly sexy right now? THIS cast?
[Laughing] Isn't it our faces, our gorgeous faces, not our clothes? No, I think we— The cast I really find to be quite striking. They're really beautiful. Like I sit in the makeup trailer every morning and I can't believe with or without makeup just how stunningly beautiful this cast is, it's really kind of ridiculous. And on top of that everyone is so nice, like, genuinely, Price, everyone is so lovely and the combination is just— I feel very lucky.
Did you ever have any idea you'd be doing so many scenes in your unmentionables?
It's funny— I think because you hear "CW" you think sexy and so I wasn't surprised whatsoever, but it was a bit of a relief when— Because I haven't had to be in my underwear since Episode 4 or something, it was kind of a nice relief when they were like, "Okay, it's Diana's turn now." I was like, "Phew!" So I really didn't mind— We're young! I'm going to be 80 and I can look back and say, "I used to be such a little hottie" or whatever— Not that I think I'm some wonderful hottie now or something—
Oh, sure, Jessica.
I certainly don't, I'm a normal girl, but I don't know, it's kind of cool to have recorded memories like that. When I'm an old lady I'm going to be able to watch the TV show and show my grandkids and be like, "See how I used to look?"
So the million dollar question, which I know is a little awkward but I hope that you understand it's from a good place— I think a lot of people, myself included, have noticed that Melissa has had the least amount to do of the whole circle and I think we'd like to see a lot more. Can we hope to see Melissa be more involved in the future and with more substantial storylines? Do you have any knowledge of what the future holds?
I don't have any knowledge of it right now. I think what happens is— First of all, we have a really big cast. There's six of us, and then on top of that there's parents involved and grandparents. On top of that all the guest stars. And it was so much about me and Nick in the beginning and so when Nick died that was a huge storyline that was instantly cut. And then when Jake came to town... There's so much to cover in every episode with the other characters.
But I totally hear what you're talking about and I agree with you, and every time that I— You know, like with the Devil's Spirit plotline— I get so excited when I read something substantial, and I'm like "Oh my God, I get to work with this, this is going to be awesome." Because nobody wants to play a character that's just sort of there. Not that I feel like I'm just there, I do definitely feel like I'm an important part of the show, but yeah, I would love to be able to be involved in the way that I was in the beginning episodes, because they were so rewarding and it was so fun to be there every day. But I would love to see Melissa do more.
But I have to say, there's a great storyline coming up with her and Callum, and more interesting stuff from when Blackwell comes to town which I'm about to shoot next week. So there is more to be seen with Melissa, that's for sure. She's definitely not a throwaway character in any way.
Oh good. I think you have a really big following just based on the comments I get on my recaps, so I think that's going to be exciting for people to know.
Well I'm so glad, I'm so glad to hear that. Yeah, it's amazing. I got a Twitter account just a little while ago and people are just so unbelievably kind and supportive and I just sort of can't believe it, I'm so grateful that people are enjoying the show and enjoying the character and my performance and all that. It's very flattering and rewarding.