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'Vampire Diaries': Joseph Morgan talks his inspiration for Klaus, and his pick to play the father of the Originals

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Now that we’ve officially met Klaus on The Vampire Diaries, we can also get to know Joseph Morgan, the actor who beat out hundreds for the role of who we now know to be Elijah’s half-brother — a deadly vampire-werewolf hybrid who needs to break the curse keeping his furry side dormant. We caught up with Morgan this morning.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: My dream is that you play Klaus as a young James Spader circa Pretty in Pink. What’s your inspiration?

JOSEPH MORGAN: [Laughs] Certainly, James Spader has that kind of dangerous charm that Klaus needed, for sure. There’s the playful side that I really wanted to bring out, but also his sociopathic nature. Above all things, I really felt like this was a guy that you just wouldn’t want to be in a room with because you never knew what he was gonna do. He could kiss you or kill you, and it would be the same thing to him. In terms of characters in movies or on TV that I drew from, I suppose I tried to put a little bit of Lestat from Interview with the Vampire. Definitely some of Hannibal Lecter. And there’s an actor in the TV show Prison Break, Robert Knepper, who plays a violent sociopath [T-Bag], and he’s just incredible in that role. I saw some of his stuff later on and thought, I’ll try to bring some of those elements into it. But I really felt like Klaus should have a stillness and a confidence. When you’re indestructible, then nothing is a threat really. So nothing needs to be taken that seriously.

Are you the type of actor who uses music to get into character? If so, what?

I absolutely use music. In fact, I tweeted a couple of music videos that were very much the kind of thing that I was listening to. One was the cover of “Feeling Good” by Muse. If Klaus had his own show, that would be the theme song. Then there’s a more dramatic version of the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack, which I listen to. I listen to a lot of “Ave Maria.” It’s an eclectic mix. You don’t get to that age without having an appreciation for culture. I felt like he should be the kind of guy who reads poetry and listens to opera and tears out people’s throats, you know. [Laughs]

You’ve also tweeted something about Klaus’ first victim. Can you tease when we’ll see him take a life? Tonight, maybe?

Let me say this: You’ll get some idea of what he’s capable of in tonight’s episode, but I have to put this out there: The episode that I’m most looking forward to seeing and I’m most looking forward to people seeing is next week’s episode [when the actual sacrifice ritual goes down]. I’m going into the studio to do ADR for it tomorrow evening. That’s the one that was a sort of epic undertaking. If I did what I hope I did, what I think I did with the episode, then people are really gonna regard Klaus as the biggest villain ever to grace Mystic Falls.

Vampire Diaries EPs Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec love to introduce characters, make us think of them one way, and then flip it. Is Klaus being a hybrid enough of a surprise, or is there any chance he’ll turn out to somehow be a good guy?

I don’t think there’s gonna be that big a turn around by the end of season 2, I’ll say that for you. But I think like anybody, there are multiple facets to his personality. I don’t know if anyone picked up on this, but I felt like there’s a moment in episode 19, conveniently titled “Klaus,” where Klaus is talking to Elijah about how a vampire’s greatest weakness is love, and we do not care, and Elijah says, “We did once.” There’s a moment before Klaus dismisses it and says, “Too many lifetimes ago to matter,” where I felt it was important to have a hint of the fact that they did care once and that maybe we’ll learn a bit more about that. Where did it all begin? If he’s trying to break the curse with a doppelgänger, and Katherine was a doppelgänger as well, there’s got to have been an original Petrova who was wrapped up in making the curse. Why was she so important? All these questions that I don’t even know the answer to at the moment, but I’m fascinated thinking about it and reading people’s theories.

You went online after you’d read for the role of Klaus and saw all the Internet speculation on who should be cast in the part. Are you already thinking about who should play any of the other Originals we haven’t met? 

Yes. [Laughs] And I just mentioned him. The guy I watched on Prison Break, and he’s now on Shameless, Robert Knepper, I already pitched to Julie. “He should play the dad of the Originals.” He’s just wonderfully frightening, wonderfully dangerous. But you know what, it’s like I read an interview with Daniel Gillies that said he thought Ian McShane should play Klaus. I got to Atlanta, and I called him out on it. I was like, “Anyway, so what was this all about Ian McShane here? Come on. Give me a break.” And Nina with [her pick] Sacha Baron Cohen. They can often cast someone you wouldn’t expect, and still it works out for the best, hopefully. So I’m just excited to see what they do. Julie’s already teased that season 3 will be the season of the Originals. I think that that’s incredibly exciting.

Last question: I know from chatting with Julie shortly after the cast and crew’s season 2 wrap party — when she was hoarse from belting “Livin’ on a Prayer” — that there was karaoke. Did you karaoke, and if so, what did you sing, sir?

I witnessed Julie’s karaoke [laughs], and I think, in fact, our line producer has video evidence of her karaoke. But I didn’t myself partake in it. I’m not quite at that stage at being that comfortable to do karaoke. Besides, I felt like it would undermine the work I’d done at being a badass Klaus to suddenly get up and sing, I don’t know, “It’s Raining Men.” [Laughs] Can you imagine that? That would be kind of hilarious.

Read more:

Vampire Diaries finale scoop: ‘We’re telling the audience that when we hit season 3, there’s gonna be a lot of things changing’

Vampire Diaries: What do you think season 3 will look like?

Julie Plec talks casting Joseph Morgan