Spin-offs can be a surprisingly rough proposition.
Sure, there's the built-in fanbase, but those same fans are often the
first to reject something that deviates from expectations, and the
elephant graveyard of quickly canceled shows is littered with failed
spin-offs. The Originals may've had the advantage of
poaching away three of The Vampire Diaries' best characters,
but that didn't mean its success was a sure bet. After a slightly
awkward backdoor pilot and then a straight-up reboot of that pilot as
the proper series opener, any misgivings fans had about The
Originals quickly dissipated after the show made some brilliant
creative decisions. Probably the best one was introducing to the
world Charles Michael Davis as Marcel, Klaus Mikaelson's former
protégé turned usurper. For years, Davis appeared in smaller roles on
shows like Grey's Anatomy and, going even further back, the
Disney Channel sitcom That's So Raven. But as Marcel he's
finally found a part that's worthy of his talents, as he's been able to keep a tricky
character compelling even without a British accent or a thousand years of
backstory. And most importantly, he was a good sport when BOTH of our
phones cut out repeatedly during a phone interview.
Is it possible that someone put a
curse on us?
One of those witches. Jane-Anne from
Do you believe in that kind of
stuff? Are you superstitious at all?
Not about witchcraft. I think the things that you believe in, I think they kinda end up coming true, so I won't even touch it.
Probably a good call. So, on The
Originals you get to act opposite some very talented people. When
you first learned that you'd be doing scenes with someone like Joseph
Morgan, were you excited about it raising your game, or were you just
like, 'Finally. People on my level.'
Good question. It was more of a
'Finally, I get to get out into the field and play.' You know? I
always use sports analogies, but it would be like that good college
athlete that finally gets to play in the NBA. Where there's still
that excitement about playing. For me, like, watching Joe on TV—I
watched him and I said, "God, he's like in his own film."
The quality of his work is so good, I'd never seen anybody do that,
elevate a show like that. And then it was a great blessing to be cast
as his counterpart. So for me, I'd already been doing good work in
class and I knew it, and it was just owning it and being confident
about it. But my real confidence came from those first few episodes
and the pilot, all my scenes really gelled. So it just came from
really working with the other cast, and I knew I could trust them. So
yeah, it was, one, having the confidence to be there, and also the
excitement of actually working with people of that caliber and
Do you remember what you were
doing when you first found out that you'd landed the role of Marcel?
I was at a coffee shop on Lankershim
here in L.A. and I was going to go read for NBC's Crisis. I
had a pilot audition and Joe called me, actually. And Joe hadn't
called me in years. Like, we'd texted each other back and
forth, but I knew he was always so busy. And he called me before any
agent, any manager, any casting person called me. Because he found
out from [executive producer] Julie [Plec] and he got so excited. So
yeah, that's when I found out. It was kinda funny because he plays my
mentor and my father figure on the show and he was the first person
to call me and sort of mentor me and get me prepared and we talked
for like 45 minutes and he finally goes, "Okay, okay, here's
what we're gonna do. I'm going to hang up, you go call your agent and
just ask 'Hey, did I get it?'"
Does your real-life friendship with him bring an extra chemistry to your scenes together?
For sure, there's a comfort there. Even in reading the pilot I knew what it was for me to sit across from him and be connected to him as a person. And when I first met him, we were talking about photography and he was so enthusiastic, so passionate about it, that even when I was preparing for the pilot and the audition, I could hear his voice and I knew the kind of energy that I would be playing off of. So that made it really easy for me to create it. And yeah, I'm super comfortable when I do scenes with him and I know without a doubt that it's going to be good, just from rehearsal on. Much the same with other actors on the show, because casting has done a really good job of hiring people who complement the level of acting that we've already set the standard for.
Marcel's a tricky character to play in that he
switches between romantic hero and bad boy, likable and sometimes
unlikable. What kind of scenes excite you the most?
Persuasive scenes. Scenes where I
actually have to work on another character, get in their head, or
even if it's a group of people. I love group scenes where it's Marcel
holding court and being the center of attention but also sort of
getting the crowd riled up. So any time I have a big speech or any
time I get to sit one on one with a character, that's a great time.
And also if I do any scenes with Sebastian [Roche], who plays Mikael.
Because he was one actor who I caught myself watching him and just
being, 'I got front row seats to a great show.' So those scenes are
really exciting to me.
Do the writers provide you with
backstory that the viewers don't know about, or do you learn that
stuff as we learn it?
get an overview. We get general, large brush strokes on the canvas
when Julie comes in and she sits at the table read and everyone asks
questions and she'll just say "Okay, here's what I have
planned..." And she's so enthusiastic and she tells us and then
we listen to the story and then at the end--no one's taking notes--we
just listen to it and that's what carries us through. We hear a
general broad stroke and then sometimes other actors will come up to
me and they'll be like "I wonder what's going on with my
character right now? I wonder what's in store?" And I'll be
like, "Well, you remember what Julie said..." And they'll
be like, "Oh, you think?" And I'm like "Yeah!"
But it's happening really quickly; the way she says it it's like this
epic odyssey, like it's going to take seasons and seasons for what
she has in store in her head. But you see, the pace of the show, it
moves so quickly that even though in my head these things would take
to develop the storyline, they just happen so quickly, so they even
surprise me, just the pace of it.
You've had romantic scenes with at
least three of the main characters on the show. Who do you hope
Marcel seduces next? Please say Bastiana.
Bastiana the witch? I ripped her head off.
Well she could be a ghost, you
Well, Marcel has great chemistry with anybody. I wouldn't count it
out. I'm always down for new love interests and bringing new
characters in, as far as love interests go. Because those are the only
things that unlock certain sides of characters. So we saw a lot from
Marcel and I know there's more but it depends on the chemistry
that he's across from. So, I love that he gets to explore those
different relationships, but it's kind of like now I always want a
different relationship where any other show it would take a little
bit longer for those relationships to develop. I'd be excited to see
some new girl roll into town, whether it's a witch or werewolf or
vampire or human, it'd be interesting. My second choice would be
Before the werewolves showed up, Marcel was the show's biggest source of gratuitous beefcake
shirtlessness. Do you think that's why Marcel hates the werewolves so
much, for stepping in on his territory?
Definitely, yeah. The introduction with Oliver at the party, I'm
standing around like, "Damn, that dude's buff." Now I know
how Joe feels when he has to do a shirtless scene right after one of
my shirtless scenes. I'm actually on my way to the gym right now,
because I've got to give them some competition.
Gotta keep up with the werewolves.
I appreciate the werewolves because they challenge me in that respect.
A lot of people are always hoping
for crossovers with The Vampire Diaries, but what are the
chances of a crossover with That's So Raven?
I'd say pretty slim to none considering that show's been off the air
for a long time.
Maybe Raven was a New Orleans
witch or something.
I see your connection now. Well, I'll talk to Julie. And if I happen
to bump into Raven [Symoné] again, I'll ask her if she's interested.
Great, I would really appreciate
that. Thank you so much!
The Originals airs Tuesdays
at 8pm on The CW.
AIRED ON 5/13/2014
Season 1 : Episode 22