'The Originals' Preview: Charles Michael Davis on Marcel's Kryptonite and Klaus' Nightmare

The "Grey's Anatomy" alum talks to THR about the CW spinoff, launching after flagship series "The Vampire Diaries" on Oct. 3.
The CW
"The Originals" star Charles Michael Davis

Klaus is about to get a run for his money.

The CW premieres The Originals, the Vampire Diaries spinoff centered on the powerful Original family, after its flagship series Oct. 3. While viewers were already introduced to the supernatural-tinged world of New Orleans earlier this year, they'll get an even deeper look at Klaus' (Joseph Morgan) protege, Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) and the throne Klaus is desperate to take back.

But sometimes, being "king" of the town means you have a lot more to lose.

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For Davis, who recurred on Grey's Anatomy, Switched at Birth and The Game before landing The Originals, the danger for Marcel comes in the form of ambition. As he previews the new series for The Hollywood Reporter, the actor discusses Marcel's potential downfall, his preference for villains and making Klaus' life a living nightmare.

You're playing someone who is even more powerful than Klaus, who has been established as the most villainous person to ever set foot in Mystic Falls. How did you prepare to take on such a task?

It’s a great place to live at and be. I remember when they came out with the role of Klaus, I was thinking, "God, how cool would it be to play an awesome villain." I loved villains growing up. I watched GI: Joe and I was rooting for Cobra to win. I thought, "You have a strong hero, you need a stronger villain for them to overcome." It’s freeing. Very freeing. I didn’t get that in some other roles that you’d want to go even further with. Right out of the gate, I’m doing karaoke, killing a witch, drinking at the bar, having fun.

How much more of Marcel's background or journey can you reveal?

[Executive producer] Julie [Plec] laid it out in a way where all the regulars are connected in ways that we didn’t really imagine. She told us at our first table read, "All right, this is what’s going on with you and you. ..." We’re like, "That’s really detailed, that’s intricate, that’s deep." Deep in the sense that you get a good feeling of it. Plus, in The Originals, being alive for a few thousand years, it’s a small world. All the characters have crossed paths. Given the fact that Marcel runs New Orleans, I’m sure he has relationships with everybody in that city.

Now that he’s in the position of power, obviously he has a lot more to lose. Is he more protective of his throne and how does he ensure that he stays on top?

Ambition is a hell of a drug — look at Scarface. It’s one of those things, ambition got him there, and ambition could be his downfall.

Julie has mentioned that Marcel and Klaus' prior mentor-mentee relationship will be explored further. What can you add?

She was hinting at the chemistry that you get to see about how they’re buddy-buddy. That’s in one of the early scenes of the first episode.

What do you think their initial meeting was like? Is that something you'd like to revisit more, their early days?

There’s a lot of value in it. I think it has more weight when a mentor and protegee get together, they talk business. It’s like if you could be in the president’s cabinet when they get together and talk business, what would it be like to be a fly on that wall? I’m really excited about exploring that. Not just when they would build a friendship, but what happens when one is eager to learn from someone who is so skilled and has been around for so long. I pulled a lot from Jay Z and [his relationship to rapper] Memphis Bleek. [Jay Z] was testing Memphis Bleek when he came in, and there’s a line in the song ["Coming of Age"] where he says [paraphrasing] "I’ll give you a G to do this for me. Well forget the G, I’ll give you this for free because I want the long-term riches." If you could sit with Jay Z and talk about business, how cool.

Is that Marcel’s motto when you’re playing those scenes out?

He has that perspective, he has that vision. So there’s that. Given that perspective, you’re sitting back with one eye kind of closed, kind of checking out what’s in front of you. I love that about him, and I love that about that relationship.

Marcel and Rebekah (Claire Holt) may have an interesting history with each other. What are you hoping to explore there?

Oh yeah, a relationship, a romance, to see what happened — what went right, what went wrong. Marcel’s a charming guy, and Rebekah is the kind of character always looking for love. So if someone said, here’s two strong people, I’m sure they’re going to have a strong attraction for each other. I’m interested to see what that is.

That definitely won't make Klaus' life any easier ...

Nah. It makes it really tough.

Has there been a scene that you’ve shot recently that sticks out?       

We had a scene that’s kind of like a witch execution scene. We have a scene where I say, "I’m the king." For me, I watch it and I get chills. We have a couple scenes in the first three episodes where it’s just a big transference of emotion.

The Originals debuts Oct. 3 at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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