If you have a taste for small screen sociopaths and the complex reasons behind their killings, Leah Pipes has two upcoming projects that will speak to your inner true crime detective.
The first, Lifetime's Jodi Arias biopic features the 24-year-old as Katie, Travis Alexander's post-Jodi girlfriend. A gig she's following up with a starring role in The CW's hotly anticipated Vampire Diaries spin-off, The Originals. In the New Orleans-set series she plays Camille (but you should call her Cammy), the lone human in a seriously supernatural city. ETonline caught up with Pipes to talk about these projects and discover the unique reasons she was attracted to both.
ETonline: How closely were you following the Jodi Arias trial?
Leah Pipes: I was obsessed. I had CNN on in my hotel room every day while we were filming the pilot for The Originals. I was following it so closely that it's kind of funny I ended up being in the movie.
ETonline: Are you typically a true crime buff or was this a unique obsession?
Pipes: I don't actually own a TV, so it was a perfect storm of having cable and being in the hotel a lot. I remember thinking, "Is this what's always happening in the world and I'm just missing it because I don't own a TV?!?!" So, no, I don't normally follow stories like this, but it was so captivating -- I mean, to watch a gorgeous girl snap and have her be so aggressive, it never happens. It's so fascinating.
ETonline: Then I'm sure it was a no-brainer as to why you wanted to be on this show.
Pipes: When the audition came in, I was extra excited about it. Then, on set, there were photos not everyone got to see, and the guy who played Travis actually talked to some of Travis' real-life friends, so I felt like I was getting an inside scoop about a story I was obsessed with.
ETonline: What appealed to you about playing Katie?
Pipes: I really liked the fact she was such a lighthearted, good-person. Being the woman that you want the man to end up with is an interesting thing to play. You're not the sexy one, so that means you're not typically doing the fun stuff, but you'll probably be a good mom one day [laughs]. I could relate to her in that way.
ETonline: Lifetime movies offer viewers a very specific kind of viewing experience. What do you want them to know about Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret?
Pipes: If viewers are looking for juicy, this is the juiciest of juicy. It's so juicy and sexy and crazy and you just don't know what's going to happen next. And the whole time you'll be saying, "How is this a real story?" Lifetime tends to be TV for women, but I think everyone is fascinated by a woman who snaps. I mean, we've all had our moments and we may call one too many times, but we haven't killed a guy -- this movie makes you feel less crazy in a weird way.
ETonline: What was it about The Originals that you believed would be able to mirror that ability to evoke an obsession?
Pipes: The Originals is going to be an epic showdown of supernatural forces, and that was very evident in the pilot. I just wanted to be a part of that [laughs]. I am the human on the show, so I might be more of the observer than the warrior, but I loved the pilot script and since then I've watched The Vampire Diaries and just can't get enough. The love affairs, the enemies, the alliances, the politics -- it's so gripping. Plus, I like that The Originals skews a little older; it has more Game of Thrones elements to it.
ETonline: Since you don't own a TV, I'll assume you were unaware of the massively passionate fanbase Julie Plec and The Vampire Diaries has. Who was the one who explained what you were getting yourself into?
Pipes: Joseph [Morgan, who plays Klaus] sat me down when I first flew into Atlanta, and he told me that being on this show has completely changed his life. One of the things he pointed out is that he has charities that his fans have raised huge amounts of money for on Twitter. I really love that there's so much passion behind these fans. And now that we're picked up for a first season, I love the excitement from people on Twitter. I appreciate it so much.
ETonline: Why did you want to play Cammy?
Pipes: Cammy has so many layers. I was told by Julie that the reason she picked me for this role is that in the first audition she asked where I was from and said Pasadena. She asked if I was a Rose Princess, and I said, "No, I was a feminist." That sold her [laughs]. Cammy's also a really intelligent girl; she's studying psychology, she's interested in dark aspects of the brain but believes everyone is inherently good. She's not hiding from the bad parts of the world, but she still believes everyone is good and wants to bring that out in them. And who doesn't want to be more like that? I hope I can learn from her.
ETonline: As the lone human in this world, how long do you think she could or should stay in the dark?
Pipes: Yeah, it's like Cammy and the tourists wearing fannypacks ... and they're all definitely going to die, so it'll just be me [laughs]. As of now, she's working at a bar, owned by Sophie, who is a witch. So I can see them having a friendship. She also seems to be creating a friendship with Klaus and it sounds like Marcel is trying to groom her to be his queen; I don't know if someone will spill the beans or she will put two and two together, but she has no human friends, it can't take that long!
ETonline: If she goes from human to supernatural creature during the series, which of the three would you prefer she become?
Pipes: If that does happen, I hope there's a fight over what I become. "She's becoming a witch!" "She's becoming a werewolf!" "She's becoming a vampire!" [laughs] Maybe I'll be all three -- some super witchy hybrid thing! Yes! Let's do that! And if that happens, Cammy will be the first female president of the United States! Who'd run against her?
Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret premieres June 22 at 8 p.m. on Lifetime, while The Originals premieres this fall on The CW.