Charles Michael Davis may be the new guy on the block of CW's line-up, but his The Originals character Marcel is an old authority on New Orleans. Having once been taken under Klaus' (Joseph Morgan) wing, Marcel has surpassed his old friend's teachings and gotten a handle on both the vampire and witch situation down south. So when Klaus saunters back into town, things are much different than how he remembers them, putting him in a slight underdog position to the insanely charismatic but also seemingly omnipotent and powerful Marcel. The two were tight years before, and it appears that they will be again, but this time there is much more of an ulterior motive involved as Marcel knows how the line between friends and enemies can change in an instant.
"Klaus has been out of New Orleans for a while, so I think [Marcel]'s like a kid who gets a new toy and a friend comes over to play on the weekend. I've been playing with this toy all week, and I know all the cool features and the shiny buttons and what it does, and then I show it to him but I take it away because it's mine," Davis said when LA TV Insider Examiner sat down with him in Los Angeles.
"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. I think of it like Scarface: there's many betrayals, but it's those who are closer to you...It's Klaus, the inner circle, and again you're going to see relationships develop so you don't know who else is close to Marcel. Relationships will develop."
When Klaus first returns, Marcel welcomes him back, but it is not without a careful eye watching his later moves. Davis pointed out that New Orleans is very much Marcel's house now, and you don't invite people to your house only to "give them free reign."
"You don't put yourself aside given that you built the house, you decorated it, you picked out carpet, you know? That's the thing that he says that Klaus is Marcel's guest, so treat it accordingly like a guest. Was it Albert Einstein or Edison who said 'Guests are like fish [because] they start to stink after three days'*?" Davis laughed.
Marcel may have a leg up over Klaus because he knows the ins and outs of New Orleans today, but he also has an advantage because of his relationships with the people. Though he is feared by some, he is loved by more. And he has at least one very special relationship (with Danielle Campbell's Davina) that provides him with information that comes as a surprise to even Klaus. That relationship will prove to be complex; she is powerful enough herself that if she wanted to break free of his bond, she should be able to. Clearly something else has to keep her tied to him, right? Davis would only hint that what defines their relationship will be answered quickly and creates "a very interesting" story.
"Relationships...do develop, and they're developing surprisingly for me quicker than I thought. So we'll get right into it," Davis said.
"After hundreds of years, you can't not have relationships with the extended family; you can't not have relationships with the Originals; and you can't not have relationships with the guests in your house. My entire house is New Orleans [so] I must keep tabs on everybody."
This "people person" version of Marcel that Davis taps into is what drew him as an actor to the role in the first place. Of course he was aware of the popularity of The Vampire Diaries, and he was actually friends with Morgan for a few years already, but what jumped out at him was the chance to play such a dynamic character. The amount of fun Marcel has with being a vampire will allow Davis as an actor to have even more fun playing Marcel.
"When I read the first lines of his introduction, and he's got that swagger, how he winks at the girls in the crowd, it was just fun to get to play. The bonus was that it was on The CW and it has that worldwide audience and target demographic and how cool it is. And then I'm working with my friends! It's better than I could have dreamed," Davis said.
"He likes to have fun; he really enjoys being a vampire. I think that's one of the things [that drew me to him]: a pride in who he is. Also, his intelligence for being able to run a city and maintain it. For me, I always admire anyone that's entrepreneurs or inventors...so he's got that going for him. He's just a fun guy at the party, and he's competitive, too."
We certainly got a little taste of that already with The Originals as part of The Vampire Diaries world earlier this year. But the audience was brought into New Orleans through Klaus' entrance and therefore very much through his eyes and perspective as he adjusted to so much difference. The second episode of this new series will allow for more exploration of those events but from Elijah's (Daniel Gillies) perspective, which means that Davis hopes soon enough we'll get an episode from Marcel's direct point of view, as well.
"I think it's brilliant storytelling," Davis said of the approach, "because you as the audience see it through one character's set of eyes, so you think you know, and I think just like in life, you think you know until you get the other side of the story. So I think that's something for people to watch and think about while watching-- to make you really pay attention.
"[And] I think he's a great guy. I think he's a stand-up guy. Ladies should want to bring him home and meet the parents!... I don't see him as a bad guy because I understand him, and as an audience member, I think that's the great thing about watching these characters is you can't really pass judgement because you're going to identify with all of them. So I hope they like it because in turn they'll probably like more aspects of themselves, in a Dr. Phil kind of way."
* Per BrainyQuote, that was actually Ben Franklin.
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