Double the fangs, double the fun: Claire Holt, Eka Darville, and Phoebe Tonkin of The Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals give us the bloody details on one of fall’s most anticipated new shows. By Jessica Hundley. Photographed by Jacqueline Di Milia
Just as vampires will not go gentle into that good night, the genre built around these charming blood suckers, too, continues to thrive. October 3rd marks the debut of The Originals—a spin-off of the CW’s hugely successful Vampire Diaries and a show that promises to delve even deeper into its predecessor’s bawdy backstory.
Centered on the “original” vampire family and set in the labyrinthine streets and wet hot sensuality of New Orleans, the series features some of The Vampire Diaries’ most seductive main characters, namely vampire-werewolf hybrid Klaus (Joseph Morgan), who plans to re-crown himself king of the city he once called home. But there are also a number of talented (and ridiculously good looking) newcomers and occasional Diaries guest stars taking central roles in the show, including Claire Holt, who plays Klaus’s saucy sister Rebekah; Phoebe Tonkin, who portrays Hayley, the sexy werewolf who becomes pregnant with Klaus’s child; and Eka Darville, who takes on the brooding, volatile vampire Diego. We talked with the three stars—who, coincidentally, are all born and bred Australians—about playing out fantasies in the deep American South.
How much did you know about your character when you joined the show?
I actually didn’t know a lot. I had faith that it would be good. I knew about the show and I really didn’t care if I was going to play a vampire or a werewolf or a witch—I just wanted to be part of that world.
You ended up a werewolf. How is that?
Hayley is super fun to play. She’s been abandoned by her parents and she has this kind of sad, lonely childhood. She meets Klaus and they have an intense sexual chemistry. They have a kind of booty call one night, and one thing leads to another and we find out that she is pregnant with his child. So we all learn a big lesson there.
How does one go about preparing to play a pregnant werewolf?
[Laughs.] Well, I was a nanny when I was younger, so I feel like I have that maternal instinct already built in. I’ve worn various stages of fake belly—from three months to six months to nine months. I took photos and sent them to my mother and said, ‘When I see you in a few months remind me that I have something to tell you!’ But emotionally it’s an interesting part to play. She’s still dealing with the shock of being in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy, so we try to approach it as you would whether or not she’s a supernatural creature—the way you or I would try deal with that situation.
Can you give us any juicy details about Hayley’s arc?
Well, Hayley is now in New Orleans, still looking for answers about her family. Meanwhile, when she’s there, the local witches discover that she’s pregnant and decide to use her to get Klaus to do what they want. They try to put Hayley’s life and her child’s life in jeopardy, so that Klaus obeys them and does what they say. That’s about all I can give away!
You moved from Australia to the U.S. in 2011 and starred in The Secret Circle on The CW. How are you enjoying working in the States?
I love it here. There is a dream of going to L.A., but no one gets on that flight unless they really feel prepared and really put their all in. Because you can’t just drive a few hours and see your family; you are really sacrificing a lot when you make that move. You come to work and put in everything you’ve got, because no one wants to get on that return flight without a job under their belt. My parents traveled a lot, and their biggest advice to me was that I would never regret traveling. So if anything, they’re happy that I’m not sitting in my little town in Australia doing the same thing everyday!
Was snagging this particular role what inspired you to move from Australia to the States?
Moving out to the States was a no-brainer. I basically had enough experience in Australia that I felt ready to go. You have to get to a certain point there, then leave and prove yourself elsewhere. I moved out here for a CW pilot, actually, but that show didn’t happen—which is best in some ways because it was going to film at a town about 45 minutes away from where I grew up in Australia.
So instead, you found yourself in New Orleans.
What an amazing city. It’s got so much life to it. I’m a musician, too, so that aspect of New Orleans just blew me away. And as an Australian, I hadn’t been privy to that kind of culture. It was incredible.
It seems like a perfect place to get into vampire character.
Totally. It was so easy to get in character there. It is such a party environment, it does have that kind of vampire feel—it lives at night and it feels like anything can happen—both bad and good.
Your character, Diego, works with Marcel, who is fighting Klaus for control of New Orleans. What can you tell us about him?
Basically, my character starts getting a lot more interesting as the series progresses. Diego is one of the inner-circle guys. He’s Marcel’s right-hand man…I don’t want to give anything away! I’ll have to choose my words very carefully. He definitely has a strong rebellious streak in him, and as the series progresses we’ll get to see a lot more of that. He’s a fighter—he definitely has that alpha male vibe. He’s also very loyal to Marcel and to the cause. He absolutely loves being a vampire. He sees it as gift and a blessing rather than anything else. He lives to drink, party—he’s kind of like a pirate…or an Australian!
So, is everyone on the show Australian?
Ha! I know. A lot of us are. Phoebe and I started on the same series in Australia [H2O: Just Add Water], and it’s so crazy to me that we’ve ended up in a foreign country working on the same show together.
Why do you think that is? Is it a coincidence or is it that Australian actors have a good reputation in the industry?
I do think that maybe where we’re from, in this business, you are expected to commit totally and give your best. It’s not acceptable to be late, it’s not acceptable to not know your lines, it’s not acceptable to behave in anyway that’s not professional—or else you’ll be fired. When you start with that work ethic, I think it makes you appealing when you come to Hollywood. I think that’s the reason that Australians tend to be successful over here. Also, when you have to work and deliver like that, and have those expectations about yourself, then you definitely give a better performance. It’s crazy, though, because this show is really a melting pot of actors from all over the world.
Tell us a little about your character, Rebekah.
Well, I had a few guest-starring appearances on Vampire Diaries and I never imagined that they would keep bringing me back, but they did. It was really surprising, it wasn’t something I foresaw happening. I got lucky, let’s just say that. My character is familiar to those who have been following The Vampire Diaries—she’s one of the Originals, she has four brothers, and she is spunky and really just so much fun to play. She is seriously loyal, but at times stubborn and grumpy. She’s kind of the vixen of the series. She comes in with a bang and causes a bit of a stir.
It sounds like everyone is having a good time with this show.
We all are! It’s a blast. We get to do so many amazing things, and everything about the show is fun—the sets and the costumes and the writing. It’s a dream job.
Stylist: LEAH ADICOFF
Hair: LUKE CHAMBERLAIN
Makeup: ALLAN AVENDANO