Last week, news broke that the CW was actively developing a Vampire Diaries spinoff with showrunner Julie Plec that would center on Klaus (Joseph Morgan) — working title The Originals — and that the April 25 episode of TVD would serve as a backdoor pilot. Though she doesn’t want to say too much about a show with a fate unknown, EW was able to get a few teases from her.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The idea of doing a spinoff has been around for a while. Why was the time right to pull the trigger?
JULIE PLEC: It’s actually something that we’ve been talking about for two years, that we contemplated trying to get off its feet last year, but there was just too much work to do in too little time. So that gave us an opportunity this year to spend a lot more time putting it together — seeing if, obviously, our actors had any interest whatsoever continuing the life of these characters [Laughs] and if there was a story to tell. It all came together in a way that we finally felt would not detract from our most important baby right now, The Vampire Diaries, and would give us a chance to expand the universe with characters that we’ve had another year to get to know.
What can you tease about the April 25 episode?
The idea is that a turn of events in Mystic Falls sends Klaus to New Orleans to solve a mystery. He gets word that some people are making a move against him that might concern him. So he heads to New Orleans to try to figure who’s plotting against him and what they’re up to. And in unfolding that mystery, it takes him back to a town that several hundred years ago, he was actually one of the original settlers of and helped build. He reacquaints himself with a vampire that he actually turned back in the day, Marcel, who has created a whole set of rules and a whole society for the supernatural community that he’s in charge of — sort of tipping his hat to Klaus and saying, “You taught me everything I know.” So Klaus’ protegé is now the big king of the supernatural community in New Orleans and Klaus is stepping back into that.
Have you cast Marcel?
No, we start casting, I think, in the next week or two.
How would you describe him?
He is the life of the party. He is diabolical, and dangerous, and he is a rock star. If anything, he’s that kind of hard-partying, hard-living vampire who knows how to enjoy the most out of life in the French Quarter.
And so if it were to go to series, New Orleans would remain the setting.
Yes. When I talked about it to the network and the studio, I said, “In its own way, the French Quarter, with its less than 3,000 inhabitants, is the ultimate small town.” So it’s still a small-town story, it’s just a town that we all know pretty well. We all have our own party fantasy that we’ve either lived or wanted to live in New Orleans.
Fans have been wondering what could keep Klaus occupied, and how Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) will get involved.
That is all part of the big mystery. I will say no one should assume anything about the way this is gonna play out, because with luck, it will be a nice surprise for everybody.
Would there be a role for Elijah (Daniel Gillies) in the spinoff, because there needs to be.
Oh, in the world of Julie Plec [Laughs] and her obsession with Daniel Gillies, there is always a role for Elijah. It’s only a matter of whether in Daniel Gillies’ world there is an interest in having a job with Julie Plec. But I can hope the answer is yes.
So you have talked to him about the possibility.
Yes. Absolutely. You’d have to ask him where he stands…. By the way, make sure it’s clear that I’m being ironic when I refer to myself in the first person. [Laughs]
What about Rebekah (Claire Holt)? She’s back in the picture this Thursday, when TVD returns with new episodes, but she and Klaus aren’t exactly happy with one other.
Right now, she’s really mad at him, and their relationship has several more mountains to climb in the next, even, five episodes, much less a future series. I think she’s another character that would be a tremendous asset to both shows. So it really all comes down to Rebekah’s future, and Claire’s future with Rebekah, and all that stuff that remains undetermined.
Would you have the title of showrunner on both shows?
I think. Truthfully, we haven’t talked about that other than that I would likely share that title with Caroline Dries on The Vampire Diaries and then be the showrunner on The Originals. The great thing about The Vampire Diaries is that Caroline has really come into her own over the three-plus years she’s been on the show and is a terrific leader, and an amazing writer, and knows the show inside and out. So I would still be there every step of the way, but she would be taking on a lot more responsibility than she already has. And Mike Narducci, who’s someone else who’s been very important on The Vampire Diaries, would come over to The Originals and take up the mantle there. So with luck, two brilliant people who’ve grown up in a Vampire Diaries universe can continue to be brilliant as we split it over two shows.