The CW series premiere of Legacies is only a few hours away — see our review of the pilot episode here — and now, as we continue to roll out interviews from our Georgia set visit, the spotlight goes onto the mastermind of this scheme: Executive Producer Julie Plec who has been around since the genesis of the Vampire Diaries TV world. She was there for the birth of Hope (now played by Danielle Rose Russell); she was also present when the Saltzman twins were delivered on The Vampire Diaries… and now all of them are teens and students at the supernatural Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted.
What fans might not know, though, is that Plec wanted to do a “supernatural boarding school” even before being a part of The Vampire Diaries.
“In the back of my head for many, many years, like pre Vampire Diaries, I’ve always wanted to do a supernatural boarding school, That’s lived nicely in my world for a really long time,” she told our group of press from various outlets earlier this month. But, then the time came where Caroline Forbes (Candice King) gave birth to the twins and the Armory was developed as a place where Alaric could take over, gather artifacts, and study supernatural history to become an Indiana Jones mentor-hero type, and baby Hope was a big part of The Originals, and it all started clicking. “We thought how great would it be if Alaric and Caroline could launch the idea of the school in one of the shows, and then we follow through with it in the other,” Plec recalled, “and then both shows give way to the school having its own show.”
The school does indeed use some of the same sets used for the Salvatore mansion in The Vampire Diaries, though the stages have changed.
“Timing just didn’t work out where we could end the Vampire Diaries and keep the stages,” Plec revealed, “[but] because we were telling a story set in the school and the last season of The Originals, we asked Warner Brothers to keep the Salvatore house set standing over on its original stages, which got taken over by Black Lightning. They had to basically live with our set just taking up space. We came and shot there a couple times over the course of their season. But then when this show moved forward and Black Lightning was still there, we couldn’t take that space so we had to move the entire set.” Legacies now lives on the stages that once housed The Originals, and at least one set (spoiler: the gym) appears to be a repurposed/refurbished set from The Originals.
Sadly, the house used for the Salvatore Mansion in the original Vampire Diaries series — Glenridge Hall outside of Atlanta — was torn down a few years back (see photos of the original mansion and its destruction here – you’ll see that many of the interior rooms match what was seen on TV). The other room that sadly did not make the transition to Legacies was Stefan Salvatore’s bedroom.
“I was actually very disappointed to learn that Stefan’s bedroom got mistakenly torn down, because that was the set that we built in Vancouver on the pilot that we then folded up and moved to Atlanta when we got picked up,” Julie revealed. “That set has been with us so long, which is probably why they just lit a match to it,” she joked. Of course, now that also means we don’t have an answer to the question of who is sleeping in Stefan’s old bedroom.
“I feel like it is probably a storage closet,” Julie joked. “I think it’s probably the file room. The old antique files,” adding that is “certainly not Alaric” sleeping in there.
So what is the emotional core of Legacies?
“I think the real emotional center of the show is Alaric and Hope — the Giles and Buffy combo,” Plec said. “She is someone who lost her parents, who, specifically, recently lost her dad and Alaric is this great father figure in her life. They poke at each other and they get in fights with each other. He’s there when she needs him and it’s just a beautiful friendship. Then, within her character’s specific difficulty with being too close to anyone else, Alaric is like her safe harbor,” she continued.
“She works so hard to keep a distance from everyone else because she just fundamentally believes that if she let’s people in she’s somehow putting them in some kind of great, mortal danger. Of course there’s Alaric. We know his history. So, the two of them kind of like to self isolate and find peace with each other but not with many other people,” Plec added.
Knowing Alaric’s history with Klaus Mikaelson, is Alaric afraid of Hope at all?
“I think he’s afraid of what she could become if she is not loved,” Julie confirmed. “I think that’s ultimately the whole reason they started this school in the first place,” she said, talking about what was discussed in the writers’ room when developing the concept.
“We started talking about Kai Parker and then the sirens in Vampire Diaries. Those were three characters specifically, if they had just been treated right when they were kids they may not have [turned out how they did]. I mean, Kai was gonna be a dick no matter what. The girls, the sirens, might not have ended up being the villain. Cade himself… the devil, as we say, was persecuted. Katherine Pierce was mistreated as an adolescent. If you could catch them early and prevent them from being mistreated or misunderstood then you might turn them a different way into great, good people. I think for him he really exists to give Hope stability and that love that she needs,” Julie explained.
There was another factor that came in to play, that had recently been on Julie Plec’s mind.
“I personally think Alaric still deeply loves Caroline. We all know that Caroline had her own affection for Klaus. I feel like Alaric is honoring that Caroline would want Hope to be taken care of because Klaus can’t be there for her. So, that’s my theory,” she confirmed, adding that this version of Alaric is what they wanted to do with the character (played by Matthew Davis) all along.
“Alaric Saltzman was the character that in Kevin’s and my head would be this guy — in terms of being the teacher, the Giles of the Vampire Diaries,” Julie recalled. “We just never quite got him there on The Vampire Diaries. I always felt like he was a missed opportunity. It was no question. We tried to get him back in when we put him in the Armory, we tried to do lots of different things to make him that professor at Whitmore. There was not question to me that he would be the center of this. The hot Dumbledore.”
And is there anyone from the TVD universe she’d like to see dropping by the Salvatore School, in addition to the already-announced Matt Donovan and Jeremy Gilbert?
“My wishlist is pretty simple. I’d like Bonnie Bennett and Caroline Forbes — [they] would be my two favorites. I certainly would be happy and thrilled to see anybody else walk through the door,” Julie said.
But ultimately, Julie Plec hopes that Legacies will a show not just for the old fans, but for new ones as well.
“I would love nothing more than to have millions of people tune in who have never seen a fame of either show and experience the show as a first for themselves,” Julie said. “Whether it’s because they’re young, just coming of age into this kind of programming, or whether they just happen to flip the channel and find it. I know that people who love the other two shows will find a familiarity and a warmth to this that will make them happy. At least I believe it. So, with luck, the audience will come from all sources, but it was built to be the kind of show that could stand on its own,” she says.
You can find more of KSiteTV’s Legacies coverage and interviews here. Legacies premieres at 9PM ET/PT Thursday, October 25 on The CW.