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'The Secret Circle' Co-Star Previews 'Tenuous' Family Relationships, Flashbacks and Drunken Confessions (Q&A)

Adam Harrington, who plays Chance Harbor drunk Ethan, reveals to THR that his character's behavior "is actually a choice."

The Secret Circle - Adam Harrington - 2011
The CW
"The Secret Circle"

The Secret Circle started a new chapter last week, but things aren't getting back to normal (whatever "normal" is) anytime soon.

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Adam Harrington, who plays Adam's (Thomas Dekker) drunk father Ethan, admitted that he didn't see the death coming. "Nick’s death was a big shock," Harrington admitted in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "There was an ominous cloud that something tragic was going to happen, but I was shocked at how it happened and who did it." (Executive producer Andrew Miller told THR that the death was originally supposed to happen earlier in the series.)

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When Secret Circle returns on Thursday night, everyone mourns in a different way and as Harrington put it, Ethan does something that could affect the lives of his son and his girlfriend Diana (Shelley Hennig). But as Harrington tells it, there's a reason to Ethan's madness and though his powers haven't yet been fully realized, he raises this question: "What would really happen if Ethan decides to sober up? What power does Ethan have?"

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Harrington spoke to THR about the strained relationship between Ethan and Adam, playing a role in Adam's relationship with Diana and why his character chooses to hit the bottle hard.

The Hollywood Reporter: Ethan has been missing in action, it seems. Will he be back to causing some more trouble?

Adam Harrington: I’m going to be causing some trouble. This next episode is a huge one with the tragic death and/or murder of Nick (Louis Hunter), and everybody has written Ethan off as a bit of a town drunk. We also forget that Ethan was there 16 years ago and knows exactly what happened. A lot of the drinking is him trying to forget that this ever happened. Nick’s death, that’s a real trigger for him because he can’t escape it anymore. Unfortunately, it makes him hit the bottle hard. He ends up telling something to Diana that he shouldn’t have that has a serious effect on her relationship with Adam.

THR: How pivotal is this secret?

Harrington: A new character [Jake, guest star Chris Zylka] shows up that causes a real shift in the dynamic of the group, especially with Cassie (Britt Robertson). Ethan’s big motto of “don’t mess with fate, bad things happen when you mess with fate,” he really feels like he was fated to be with Amelia. Because that didn’t happen, somehow what happened 16 years ago was tied to that, he’s afraid Adam may mess with fate.

THR: Do you think your character will sober up anytime soon? Is he going to begin to grow up?

Harrington: There’s a side of Ethan that would rather he didn’t have to sober up, but I think what’s really exciting is the next episode. Somebody comes back form Ethan’s past threatening to give secrets to Cassie, threatening to let her know what’s happening. We see that at the end of 107, Ethan makes a choice as to whether he’ll continue not being involved or the decision he makes about being involved, and what that actually is.

THR: Will people in Chance Harbor eventually find out what happened to Nick, that Charles (Gale Harold) and Dawn (Natasha Henstridge) played a role?

Harrington: That scene is pretty hard to watch. Secrets in this town eventually come out, it’s who finds out and who doesn’t.

THR: Is there a scene coming up that viewers should keep an eye out for?

Harrington: The scene with Ethan and Diane this week is pretty intense, especially for her. Then in 107, I was really excited to see Adam facing his father. You can only go so long with having a drunk dad who's not really responsible, passed out in the back and almost died [in last week's episode] when Nick was going to burn down the boathouse. Ethan and Adam's relationship is already tenuous, it’s not the greatest father-son dynamic and we see it take a serious turn.

THR: What do you want to see happen future episodes? What have you been waiting to do?

Harrington: People have been talking about what flashbacks would they like, seeing some of the stuff that happens. The other things that’s exciting is the question everybody has regarding Ethan: What would really happen if Ethan decides to sober up, what power does Ethan have?

THR: Because we've only seen one side so far ...

Harrington: We haven't seen the other side. Or that Ethan does know everything that happened, and how much Ethan’s behavior, though sad, is actually a choice.

THR: Are you aware of where your character in advance so you can create the arc if necessary?

Harrington: The writers gave me some information what happened all that long ago, just for myself, to know where he’s been coming from and why he’s behaving the way he is. Ethan does know what happened. And some stuff I didn’t want to know because it’s great to have that unfold as the layers get peeled back as Ethan starts to make choices about what he’s going to do.

THR: Are there any supernatural beings that are even scarier than what has been shown so far?

Harrington: We know it’s Chance Harbor. We know it’s not a happy world. Some of it I know about, I can’t talk about, but it’s just fantastic, but now that we know for sure that there’s a back nine, it gives the writers room to develop these stories and see what’s possible. That great line from The Matrix? "We’re actually going to find out how deep the rabbit hole goes."

THR: Any surprises so far this season that you didn't see coming?

Harrington: Nick’s death was a big shock. There was an ominous cloud that something tragic was going to happen, but I was shocked at how it happened and who did it. Ethan has a line in episode six, "Wake": "Young people can’t stop dying in this town.” I don’t know that Ethan necessarily believes the story about the death.