Joseph Morgan has played it all, from human Viking warrior to Original vampire to the first vampire-werewolf hybrid to reluctant father … and now he’s taking on a new role: director. The Originals star stepped behind the camera for tonight’s mini crossover with The Vampire Diaries, and his directorial debut was a huge learning experience for him.
“I’m really thrilled and excited for everyone to see it after all that work,” Morgan tells Nerdist. “It’s great for it to finally be out there.”
While Morgan knows The Originals inside and out after starring on it for almost three years (not including his time playing Klaus on The Vampire Diaries for two years before that), he was surprised by how supportive everyone on set was when it came to his first time directing an episode.
“It’s not like I wasn’t expecting them to be supportive, but just the way the cast especially went above and beyond to make sure it was a terrific episode, and were very open to my ideas and had ideas of their own, it was very exciting to me,” Morgan says. “But the most challenging thing was fighting the daylight. I had three big days that were daylight-dependent, where we were chasing the sun literally all day. There was really a scramble to get everything we needed for these big sequences, six actors in the woods with stunts and visual effects, with huge drama to play. It was really about being as prepared as I could be.”
According to Morgan, after all the prep work was done, he just had to “jump in and never stop moving.”
“I feel like I didn’t stand still the entire time,” Morgan says with a laugh. “Then when I’m in the scenes, I’m running back and forth to check playback, thinking about the next shot, and acting in the scenes. The whole thing was a terrific learning experience.”
Something Morgan had to tackle that most first-time directors don’t have to worry about is acting in front of the camera while simultaneously taking control behind the camera.
“For me, the acting in this episode was a lot of two-hander scenes with Hayley [Phoebe Tonkin] and Klaus,” Morgan says. “That was a little easier because it was fairly easy to plan and Phoebe is extremely accommodating to work with. The hardest stuff was some sequences toward the end of the episode with five of us in one scene, and I’m one of the actors in it. That was a little more tricky. That was the most challenging point, being the behind the cameras and being a part of the big sequences.”
Morgan always knew he would direct an episode, but he actually expected a much smaller episode for his first time out.
“To be honest, I sort of expected them to give me a less challenging episode, but they really didn’t,” Morgan says with a laugh. “Not at all! It was a big episode by all accounts. Now I’m glad, because I think it’s one of the better episodes of the season. I mean, I’m biased but I do think that. Initially reading it, I was like, ‘Oh god, I thought it was going to be a bunch of two-hander scenes and I wouldn’t really be in it much and it would be quite easy and familiar and mostly on our stages.’ And it really wasn’t. It was a lot of location work.”
The episode features a mini crossover with The Vampire Diaries when Elijah (Daniel Gillies) and Finn (Casper Zafer) head to Mystic Falls to try and find their missing sister Freya (Riley Voelkel), and they come across Matt Donovan (Zach Roerig). Seeing as how Matt was the one who killed Finn on The Vampire Diaries, it’s safe to assume that their first encounter will be … awkward.
“Absolutely. And having the knowledge of that, I was able to exacerbate the situation by pitching to everyone that that encounter takes place in the alleyway where Finn was killed by Matt,” Morgan says with a laugh. “That’s where the characters should first meet in Mystic Falls. That was a thrill for me, and I know it will be for the fans. And we’re able to make reference to it in the script as well. Everyone relished in that idea. It’s fun, the idea of these guys going to Mystic Falls, and we have fun with that idea.”
He continues, “But I tried to keep an underlying tension there. Finn tries to control his darker impulses, he’s very restrained, but I thought it would be fun to play with that underlying tension of this guy killed me, and for Matt Donovan who’s definitely hardened up since these characters were in Mystic Falls last, to play the sense of this is my town, these guys came to my town, I’m not going to take any shenanigans. It was great to work with Zach again after so long, and in a different capacity as well.”
Since Matt had such a tumultuous, layered relationship with the Original sister Rebekah (Claire Holt), who’s currently laying daggered in a coffin in New Orleans, will he ask the Mikaelson brothers about his ex?
“Rebekah is mentioned in the episode, I will say that,” Morgan says cryptically.
Someone who will finally appear for the first time in a long time is Cami (Leah Pipes), who hasn’t been seen since she effectively broke up with Klaus.
“They’re pretty estranged at the moment after she made that decision to push Klaus away like that,” Morgan says. “We see Cami for a scene during my episode but really she’s not a huge part of that world. That’s because she’s consciously separated herself from it. But we definitely will see more and follow through with that. I think we all feel like a confrontation between Cami and Aurora [Rebecca Breeds] is coming, since Aurora killed her and she came back a vampire. [Laughs] So there’s that. At some point, that will have to be paid off, if Aurora can only get out of that wall she’s been bricked up behind.”
Morgan knows that there is a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to Cami’s relationship with Klaus, which was cut short after she became a vampire.
“Klaus and Cami, that definitely feels unfinished to me,” Morgan says. “That feels like there needs to be some kind of resolve there. He’s gone and left town because he has to, for the good of the baby, but there’s definitely things that were left unsaid there and all of this is going to pay off. Well, look, I know it’s all going to pay off because I’ve shot it already and I’ve read the scripts and been a part of the episodes. [Laughs] I’m excited for everyone to see it because we’re doing the very best for the show and the storylines they’re coming up with, no one will see coming. It’s all exciting and dramatic.”
What are you most excited to see from Morgan’s directorial debut? Tweet me at @SydneyBucksbaum!
Images: The CW
The Originals airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on The CW.