When The Originals returns with a truncated fourth season on Friday (March 17), expect the supernatural drama to embrace its darker side. Five years have passed since the events of the Season 3 finale, and with all of the Mikaelsons currently indisposed, Marcel has reclaimed New Orleans as his own. But there's an evil brewing under the city, one that spells trouble for Klaus and his family, including his estranged daughter, Hope.
Ahead of the Season 4 premiere ("Gather Up the Killers"), MTV News chatted with star Joseph Morgan about The Originals' return, that unexpected Vampire Diaries series finale moment, and how he's learned to stop questioning the mythology of creator Julie Plec's universe. See? Even the star of the show can't figure out how The Originals' timeline syncs up with that of The Vampire Diaries.
Technically, it's been five years since we last caught up with Klaus in New Orleans. A time jump is a good way to hit the restart button on things. Did you feel that way going into Season 4?
Morgan: Definitely. Also, it being a shorter season was such a welcome change for us, certainly for me. You know, 22 episodes a year is a lot. So this is a good thing. There are new dynamics and new tensions between characters, and new characters. Initially, they talked early on about jumping forward a lot further in time, which would have been interesting [but] not for our human characters with all of that prosthetic aging makeup. It's funny because we have a good presence on social media, and a lot of the time you get messages like, "Why can't you guys do episodes all year round?" Oh my god. You don't understand how we're all just wiped by the end of a season. It would just get gradually worse, as we all grow more and more tired and exhausted with it. So what you've got is a truncated season that's full of energy and life and a concise story.
Klaus has been imprisoned and mentally tortured for five years by Marcel at the start of Season 4. What kind of emotional state do we find him in? Is he hopeless, or perhaps vengeful?
Morgan: He's a pendulum. He swings between the two. He absolutely is a coiled spring at times, angry and vengeance-filled. And then other times it seems hopeless and he feels like he's never going to get out of that dungeon. So it's a mixture of the two for the first couple of episodes at least. And Marcel is enjoying that. He's enjoying having Klaus right where he wants him.
For sure. He doesn't even have a heart anymore, so how could he care?
Morgan: Exactly! He's got no heart. I wonder how that works now. Is there just a big hole where his heart once was? Did he grow a new heart? I'm not sure. Since Damon stopped turning into a raven, I've stopped questioning [the mythology]. Or a crow, or whatever it is. [laughs]
We know that Cami (Leah Pipes) makes an appearance in Episode 2, perhaps as one of Klaus's delusions. What kind of presence does she have over Klaus this season?
Morgan: She has a literal presence in that episode, of course. For me, this season is all about Klaus's relationship with Hope. That's what drove the character through the whole season, and that was certainly the part of the season that I enjoyed the most, the scenes that I enjoyed playing the most. So Cami's words to him about his daughter and her advice she offered him and does offer him in the forthcoming season [are] definitely present in his mind as he moves forward.
What's that father-daughter relationship going to be like this season? He's missed five years of her life. I'm assuming that's going to weigh on him significantly.
Morgan: They're strangers. It's so bizarre because he's known her and loved her, but she was a baby. She remembers none of that, really. She doesn't remember his face. She just knows him as this man her mom has talked about, and then suddenly [she has] that man in the house. The idea of a dad is very different [from] having a dad. So there's a huge responsibility there that he's terrified he can't live up to. I think, if anything, Hope is the one who helps Klaus, maybe as a bit of an anger management coach. But I don't think Klaus is the best person to go to for lessons in controlling your powers at all, or [for] self-discovery. We start seeing some magic from [Hope] as she learns to control it and understand who she is.
I have to ask about the Vampire Diaries series finale because the letter that Klaus wrote to Caroline was so unexpected. Julie Plec said that she originally wanted you to be in the episode but things fell through. Did you know about this plan?
Morgan: I didn't know about the letter until after it aired. I was like, Huh, he sent her a letter. Did you notice how Klaus's handwriting has changed dramatically in the different episodes that he's sent letters or notes? I don't think they've pinned it down. [laughs] He's a man of many fonts. But it's a fine balance they have to walk with the finale because ideally you bring back every character that meant something to the show. But then you also have to do justice to the story line that's being played out. Knowing how passionate the fans are about everything, it was better to not have Klaus infiltrate that world. Does [the letter] mean he's safe? Because he's obviously written the letter some time in the future, so does that mean he survives the whole season? Or is he writing it at some point in Season 4? The more you open that Pandora's box, the harder it is to close it.
Speaking of opening Pandora's box, congratulations on not joining the cast of Fox's new X-Men series, despite the rumors. How did that whole thing get started?
Morgan: It was funny to see that unfold and to answer so many freaked-out phone calls. I just did it as a favor to Bryan Singer and to Fox, coming in and reading. I met Bryan before, and I just felt like it would be a fun way to be involved in that world. I had no idea that [executive producer Lauren Shuler Donner] was going to take a photo and say, "Hey, this is the cast!" It's a great project, but obviously I'm busy. It was pretty funny to see all of the articles and then the retractions.
Personally, I was here for that casting. You're a big fan of the comics, right?
Morgan: I am! That's why I wanted to at least go in and help out at the table read. But we'll see what it will lead to.
[This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.]