Nearly a decade after The CW first introduced us to Mystic Falls’ bloodthirsty characters in The Vampire Diaries, and the New Orleans set-The Originals, executive producers Julie Plec and Brett Matthews are presenting the final installment of their supernatural saga, Legacies. Set in the distant future, Legacies follows a group of magical teens who all live in safe confines of the Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted as they struggle to control both their magical and hormonal urges.
Run by headmaster and TVD alum Alaric Saltzman (Matt Davis), the Salvatore student population also boasts a few familiar faces. The Originals alum, Danielle Rose Russell stars as Hope Mikaelson, the first ever vampire/werewolf/witch hybrid who witnessed her parents’ destruction during the final season of The Originals. Fans of the original television dramas will also remember Josie (Kaylee Bryant) and Lizzie Saltzman (Jenny Boyd), Alaric’s twin daughters who have their own battles to face.
While Mystic Falls is no stranger to supernatural events, vampires, werewolves and witches, Legacies is set to unveil something fans of The Vampire Diaries universe have never seen before.
Ahead of the series premiere, Shadow and Act traveled to Atlanta where Legacies is filmed. We spoke with The Quad alum, Peyton Alex Smith, who stars as Rafael — a troubled young man just uncovering his true nature as a werewolf and Quincy Fouse, who plays M.G., a cheeky vampire trying to find his footing in the world.
For Smith, stepping into a world that was already 236 episodes deep with The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, wasn’t as intimidating as one would think. After all, before becoming Rafael, he wasn’t uber-familiar with the franchise. “I’d seen a couple of episodes, but I wasn’t really familiar with the world at all,” he explained. “It was an eye-opening experience for me because, on the back end, I’ve been able to catch up on everything. ”
Literally transforming himself into another being has been an exhilarating experience for Smith. “It’s really different,” he said. “I’m on a rollercoaster right now with this role. Even the scenes that I shot today were all over the place,” he says. “I was interested in playing this character because the last [role] that I did was this rapper where so much was in a certain [stereotypical] box. Coming here I was like, ‘Okay, cool, can I expand myself as an actor?'”
Becoming Rafael has not been without it’s more humbling moments, especially when it comes to Smith’s transformation scenes. “It’s been funny,” he laughed. “One time with Danielle who plays Hope, I was sitting there, and I’m just screaming and yelling, scratching at the floor and she’s looking at me, and she was like, ‘The camera’s not on you.’ So, yes. It’s fun, but after six hours you’re like, ‘I’m done screaming.'”
The tone of the show will also set Legacies apart from its predecessors. While The Vampire Diaries was about love and The Originals was about family, Legacies is all about friendship and the ties that bond us with one another. Rafael, for instance, does not arrive at the Salvatore School alone. His “human” foster brother, Landon (Aria Shahghasemi ) also gets swept up in the supernatural as well. As the audience will discover in the series pilot, Landon might be hiding his own mystical secrets.
“I don’t think either of them knows anything right now,” Smith explained when considering Rafael and Landon’s mysterious backstories. “To be honest with you, they are on that journey as we speak. From what I’ve seen, that’s what the first season is about. To me, it’s like everybody’s finding themselves. I’m still trying to figure out who I am, Landon has no idea who he is at all. In some later episodes, they find out exactly what’s going on.”
Stepping into this world which already has such a massive fandom has undoubtedly been an exciting experience for Smith. “It’s dope,” he chuckled. “I get a different DM every day. They probably know more about my character than I do. But it’s dope to see how serious they are about it.”
Smith isn’t the only one ready to take a deep dive into this magical universe. All About the Washingtons alum, Quincy Fouse is prepared to take a bite into Legacies as the charismatic vampire, M.G. Gladstone. Already well established in the Salvatore student body, M.G. seems fairly self-assured. It probably helped that Fouse binge-watched The Originals which helped him ground himself into M.G.’s world.
“This show, like The Originals, does such a good job of utilizing the superpowers,” he explained. “Each monster and supernatural creature is outstanding without doing stuff that was cheesy. That was something I was really excited for.”
Though they are both at the Salvatore School, M.G. and Rafael don’t necessarily share the same demons. “M.G. is a bit more on the pure-hearted side of things,” Fouse revealed. “I’ve spoken with the writer’s room about everything, and it seems like they’re headed in a specific direction with M.G. What they want to do, I have no clue yet. However, I do know that M.G. is looking for love and acceptance from people, so he often puts himself in a place of service to other people in order to get that.”
Fouse continued reflecting on his character. “M.G. is very new to being a vampire,” he explained. “Being a supernatural outside of the school is one thing and then coming into it is a whole different thing than growing up there. When he was turned into a vampire he didn’t know what to do with himself. Because of his big heart, he felt like a monster, and then these people came to him and told him, ‘Hey, you’re fine, this is natural. This is the hand you have been dealt and we are going to teach you how to handle it.'”
Like Smith, Fouse is already a bit flustered by the intense fandom that has already surrounded the freshman series. “People are already coming at me like they are in love with my character, but the show has not even come out yet,” he laughed. “You all don’t know if I am good or not. You have not seen me in anything before. You all don’t know who M.G. is right now, you know? So yeah, it’s huge. It’s dope to come in and be such a part of a powerhouse and a fandom.”
Legacies premieres October 25, 2018, on The CW. Aramide A Tinubu is a film critic and entertainment writer. As a journalist, her work has been published in EBONY, JET, ESSENCE, Bustle, The Daily Mail, IndieWire and Blavity. She wrote her master’s thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can find her reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or tweet her @wordwitharamide.