'Legacies' EP Brett Matthews Teases How Characters Face Their Demons in Film Noir Episode (Exclusive)
By Liz Calvario
Annette Brown/The CW
It's an episode you do not want to miss!
Titled "There's a Place Where the Lost Things Go," Thursday's Legaciessees Hope (Danielle Rose Russell), Josie (Kaylee Bryant), Lizzie (Jenny Boyd), MG (Quincy Fouse) and Rafael (Peyton Alex Smith) transported to a fabulous film noir world.
In order to deal with all their recent traumas -- including Kai Parker's return and a black magic-filled Josie -- Emma (Karen David) makes them participate in a group simulation where they confront their conflicts head-on or risk the game's consequences. However, like most situations, things don't go as planned and the students come face-to-face with something they never imagined.
ET caught up with executive producer Brett Matthews, who also co-wrote the episode with Mark Ryan Walberg, where he shared the inspiration for the episode, why Professor Vardemus (Alexis Denisof) has returned and teased if there could ever be something more between Hope and Rafael.
ET: What was the inspiration for this episode?
Brett Matthews: It really goes back to a class I took in college at Wesleyan University... Film noir is a genre that will stay with me forever and is something very near and dear to my heart that I never really thought the right opportunity would present itself in this way to explore. I'm really glad it did. It's like an itch I had since I graduated college that I finally got to scratch.
What will surprise fans most about it? Is this a one-off episode or how will this push the narrative forward?
We don't really do one-offs. We do a lot of format break episodes, but we only do them when it's really the best way to explore the characters' journeys and the things that all of our characters are going through as they come to a head. A format break episode or a special episode will do that better than a conventional one. That's when the time's right. So absolutely we are telling this episode because it's where our characters are at coming off of [episode] 12 and 13, and really traumatic events. It's a group therapy exercise that kind of goes awry. It always starts and ends with the characters and they got us into it and the discoveries and revelations that they experience in the film noir world will come to influence them on the other side, when we're back to our normally scheduled program.
Is there a reason everyone has their distinct characters in this episode? Is there more than meets the eye with their film noir roles?
Yeah, everybody is sort of at a point in their emotional journey for the season, where they have some things they have to face, and the therapy sort of puts them in a role which allows them to make the discovery that their, sort of, person needs to learn from, move on and process. Film noir is a really good fit because it has all these tropes and archetypes and it was really fun. Mark Walberg and I, who I wrote the episode with, who's our script coordinator here, really got those characters into those different types based on where they are coming from and where they were headed for the rest of the season. That's really the "why" of who's the movie starlet, who's the gumshoe and who's this. I got to say, it was really fun to put Quincy Fouse's MJ sort of front and center in an episode. That was a really neat opportunity. We really enjoyed to be able to do that.
We see Alexis Denisof's Professor Vardemus back, I thought he was gone? Am I wrong? What's his role in this?
[Ryan] Clark took Vardemus' identity at the beginning of the season and [this episode] sort of gives us the answer to where Vardemus has been this whole season, which is his mind has been locked in the therapy box and his body has been stowed in the school. And inadvertently, the kids end up setting him free and we finally look forward to getting to know the character of Vardemus as Vardemus, and not someone pretending to be him. [We will learn] who he actually is, a scholar with a bit of an edge, who's lived a really interesting life, but has a really great amount of knowledge to share with Alaric and other educators at the Salvatore School. We just really love Alexis and what he did with the character, so we're excited to begin exploring this new facet and get to know the actual Rupert Vardemus.
So he will be sticking around for more episodes?
Yeah, we hope so. We obviously have a lot of characters to service and that's always the hard part about running a television show, there's never enough time. But Vardemus is just a character [we love], and Alexis is one of the kindest, most professional actors you hope to work with in this business. [Creator] Julie [Plec] and I really love what he's doing and he is a character you will see pop up here and there, and we would love to explore more in the future.
Landon is not in this episode, but we see Rafael and Hope together. How much tension is there between them and is this foreshadowing them getting closer in the future?
I think that Raf's takeaway from this episode is that he is part of a very deep mystery that disturbs him and that he needs to get to the bottom of, and obviously feels uncomfortable enough about it that he is lying to people about it. And so, that is sort of what's forefront in Rafael's mind, but he does have this deep relationship with Hope and a super neat and profound relationship with Landon. Both of those characters will help him unwrap and get to the bottom of, and hopefully solve, the situation he's found himself in.
We've seen Josie, Kaylee Bryant, just come out of her shell this season, from a sweet, kind and shy girl to this badass, evil villain. How has it been working with and getting that dynamic range from her?
Kaylee is a wonderful actress and it's not real hard. Dark Josie really makes a lot of sense because it's just that repressed part of the character she usually plays. Josie is a selfless character and puts others above herself, and I think it's a very human thing to have that part that says, "What about me?" or somebody always putting off their own wants and desires, and that often comes to a head and people often snap. That's a little bit of what she's going through. So I think for her it's probably a little more hand and glove than it would be for somebody coming from the outside in because our actors really do inhabit their characters and live in their skin year-round in a way another person doesn't. I think it made a lot of sense to her and then to translate that to the physicality and the surface menace of it all. I think she's doing a great job with it.
How was the cast's reaction when they saw this script for this episode and started getting into their wardrobe?
I think they always enjoy the format break episodes because they allow them to really just do something fun and exciting, and I feel like the whole crew feels that way about it as well. Like Julie said, when I gave her the script, she's like, "They're not going to know what film noir is," and I said, "Well, I don't know if it's that large of a problem." But we did pull a couple landmark film noir episodes that we thought really encapsulated the genre and everybody watched them and did their homework and very quickly, whether they had prior experience with the genre or not, understood what it was and really gave it 110 percent, as did our director Mike Karasick. But the cast, like they usually do, gave it their all and made it shine. I'm sure it was fun for them because of wardrobe and they got to be in another world for an episode and those are always fun for everybody.
Will fans get to see another themed episode like this in the future?
We'll have another one or two over the course of the season. We're doing a really big, exciting musical episode this year, as we try to do one every year. So we're working on that one now and that's something that sort of revisits our history as a franchise. We're very excited about that. So you can definitely look forward to that one and seeing all your favorite characters singing and dancing and all that good stuff.
I love both of those guys! They are part of our family and like we say to all our members of our family, the door on Legacies is always open. All they gotta do is give me a call and I will certainly, always take that call. I'll always be interested. In terms of characters, you want to make sure that you have enough, you know, like, Vampire Diaries and The Originals, they had their own endings. So just on a character level, it's always a case-by-case basis to make sure that they're respecting the integrity of our cast, but god, if there's a way to do any of those things, we're always inclined to do them. It's just the people you know and the relationships you form and that makes up for the long hours and all these things. We're very lucky people to have worked with so many wonderful, talented artists and we would love to work with them all again in the future.