Immortality can be such a lonely burden.
As the first vampire/werewolf hybrid, Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan) proves this in The CW’s “The Originals,” premiering Thursday.
The spinoff of “The Vampire Diaries” features Klaus visiting New Orleans, which his family helped build. There he meets up with Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), once his protege, now a slick tyrant.
“He is a Jay-Z character,” Davis says of Marcel. “He is rags to riches.”
“Marcel felt enslaved,” Davis says. “He just wants to be free in a sense. He is still a sensitive guy. He wants to rule over the witches and the werewolves, but he is a vampire. He is not an original.”
At only a few hundred years old, Marcel is a kid in the vampire world. But he now rules the werewolves and witches in New Orleans, killing at whim and making it very clear to Klaus that he is the boss.
“I’m not the prince of the Quarter, friend,” Marcel growls to Klaus in the pilot. “I am the king! Show me some respect.”
Klaus, who has anger issues, does not take kindly to Marcel’s attitude.
Though initially content to let fury guide him, Klaus relents to brother Elijah’s (Daniel Gillies) pleas to try to live in New Orleans for a while — for family. Elijah wants to see the family line continued.
“Family is power, Nicklaus,” Elijah tells his brother. “Love, loyalty — that’s power. This is what we swore to one another 1,000 years ago before life tore away what little humanity you had left.”
Klaus has impregnated Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin), which initially shocks him because vampires cannot procreate. However, werewolves can, and Klaus is a hybrid.
The witches of New Orleans need to cast off Marcel’s shackles and know that Klaus and his family, which also includes sister Rebekah (Claire Holt), can help them. The witches want Marcel dead, and Klaus isn’t too wild about him either, so they form an alliance. They will take care of Hayley during her pregnancy and ensure that Klaus’ child is born.
Klaus needs convincing, given that his base-line emotion is anger. Despite the fact that his character is a tightly coiled ball of rage, albeit in a scruffy and appealing way, Morgan sees him as a bit wounded and vulnerable.
“I have thought from the beginning that what he wants most of all is affirmation and love,” Morgan says. “He is a bastard child. His mother was a witch, and his father was a werewolf. His stepfather was a vampire who turned us into vampires.”
“The first kill I made as a vampire transformed me into a werewolf,” Morgan says.
Klaus is supposed to be that tense. “He flips on a dime,” Morgan says. “He’s a sociopath. It’s hard to feel anything other than anger. He is always chasing that love he never received.”
In one fight scene, Klaus says, “I cannot be killed.”
Morgan acknowledges that’s not 100 percent accurate.
“There is a weapon out there that can kill him,” Morgan says. “It is the only weapon, the stakes from the wood from one tree. We burned the tree hundreds of years ago. I have the daggers dipped in the ash from the tree. The daggers were pulled out, and I have the stake of that tree. I am hoping to hold onto it for a while.”
The actor does refer to the character in the first person and is clearly well versed in vampire lore.
“I love playing the character,” Morgan says. “There is a progression that had to happen. For me to remain part of ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ it would have been challenging. How long before a hero starts to look stupid because they can’t beat this villain? How long before Klaus is killed or evolved into his own show?
The pilot does a decent job of explaining the mythology of “The Originals,” especially for those who are not “Vampire Diaries” fans or all that knowledgeable about vampires.
“I have read the first three, and I have been on set for four days,” Morgan says. “I know, absolutely, assuredly, it will be a show in its own right. For fans of ‘Vampire Diaries,’ they will recognize the mythology. But for all of the people who have never seen a frame of ‘Vampire Diaries,’ they won’t feel like they are late to the party.”
“It is done so well, and I was so lucky to come in on it and (be) given the opportunity with this character,” he continues. “It looks a little different. It is a little more colorful. It’s embracing the color of the city.”
And the flavor of New Orleans, which is as it should be — spicy, nuanced and mysterious, steeped in history that isn’t always apparent.
“New Orleans is Marcel’s home, but Klaus is just a houseguest,” Davis says. “And houseguests stink after three days.”