The Originals: Julie Plec blogs 'A Ghost Along the Mississippi'
The Mikaelson family is extremely complicated, and who better to untangle that drama than Julie Plec? The Originals showrunner will blog each week’s installment throughout the season exclusively for EW. From answering burning questions to giving behind-the-scenes stories and more, this is a place for fans to hear directly from Plec about the episode they just watched.
I hope you enjoyed “A Ghost Along the Mississippi,” written by Declan DeBarra and directed by Michael Grossman. This episode will forever be known to the crew for what didn’t make it in to the final cut. A note on running time: Broadcast television gives you approximately 42 minutes start to finish to tell a story, roll credits, and show your studio logo. You cannot go one second over except in extremely rare circumstances. As such, half of the time spent getting an episode ready for broadcast is cutting out those precious final seconds.
On The Originals, we have a tendency to start with reaaaalllly long episodes. More than once, we’ve received early cuts coming in at 18-22 minutes over. Early in season 1 we made a rule that no script could be longer than 45 pages (the general rule is one page = one minute). Then we cut it down to 42 pages. Now, in season 3, our average scripts are 39 pages long. And we STILL get cuts that are many minutes over, because there’s nothing we love more on The OG’s than to milk the hell out of words and moments. I like to think of it as our special signature.
In this episode, writer Declan has two funny stories about things that never made the final. We shot a scene where we show Cami under Aurora’s compulsion cutting her throat in bed with a straight razor. It was done with a blood pump attached to the rubber blade. This never works, the pump always gets clogged and we end up doing it in FX. It worked so perfectly in one take that the practical FX guys jump-hugged each other and everyone roared with delight. Then it got cut in the edit. Such is the way of TV.
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We also shot a scene that had poor Oliver Ackland, who plays Tristan, being submerged in a shipping container. It was shot at night when it was freezing, but we had a tanker truck of heated water to spray him with so all was good … until … the heater broke and we had to use the tanker truck of COLD water. Oliver showed true Aussie grit and said the show must go on. We sprayed him with ice cold water over and over as he acted his heart out. And then we cut the scene. Sorry Oliver. We owe you a beer.
Another set tidbit from Declan:
“Our last day was the big car flip stunt. We were all nervous as hell because a stunt person is essentially driving a car at high speed with a controlled bomb inside that fires out a metal piston and flips the car. Of course the heavens opened, turning the entire shoot into mud world, thunder and lightning ripped across the sky, and I saw the face of one of the horsemen of the apocalypse as he rode by. We were just about to call it a bust when the sun broke through for a 30-minute window. We packed the explosive in the car and rolled. (Would the car roll twice like we expected or just end up on its side?)
“The car came around the corner at speed and BANG! It flew through the air and rolled seven times. Another three horsemen of the apocalypse appeared just to check it out because the sound was unholy. Everyone held their breath. A thumbs-up from the stunt driver and we all cheered and hugged.
“The stunt guy crawled out of the wreck carrying his own special stunt seat and looked like he had just driven through a drive through and ordered a vanilla shake. Sub zero. He told us that as he came around the corner the car started to slide off the road, so he spun the wheel and hit the explosive button so we would have something on camera. I felt like an eagle should be landing on his shoulder delivering him a beer. Stunt people are completely insane.”
Thankfully, that made it into the episode.