During last month’s San Diego Comic-Con, Dread Central had the opportunity to chat with a few of the stars of “The Secret Circle”, premiering September 15th on The CW, and today we present Part 1 of our two-part interview series, which includes Britt Robertson and Thomas Dekker, who portray predestined lovers Cassie and Adam.
We spent the most time with Britt, who was asked the reasons she was drawn to the part of Cassie, and she replied, “Honestly, the number one thing I always say is Kevin [Williamson]. I’m such a huge fan of him – he’s so talented – and getting the opportunity to work with him was such a cool thing for me, and then they sent me the script and it’s such a killer part. It was the jackpot, it really was. And I’m so thankful to be part of it.”
When asked to elaborate on working with Williamson, she added, “He’s so detailed with everything he wants. He’s got such a creative vision for these projects, and to see him so passionate about our project is so sweet because it’s like, ‘Oh, you actually care. This isn’t just something you’re sticking your name on.’ He has been in every meeting, every tone note, every wardrobe fitting. He has approved everything. So just to have him as that sort of backbone of our show has put a lot of confidence in us as actors and as a show to really do him proud.”
Thomas, too, has great admiration for their executive producer, “He knows probably … maybe more than anybody I’ve worked with. He knows exactly what he wants. I enjoy that.” We wondered how this particular project got his attention enough to bring him to The CW, not what one would expect from the young actor given his recent career choices. He answered, “For me it’s about the role. Plus what the studio is that’s affiliated with it. But I was interested in doing something a bit more pulpy and a bit more easy on people’s enjoyment. A lot of the things I’ve been doing lately are very dark or very difficult or different, and I love that, but I think I also just missed the constant of TV. I haven’t done it in about three years now. There’s a great thing as an actor, you get to sort of just build and build and build your character. You’re there every day. And I’ve been kind of missing that. But I know it is a bit of a surprise. It was a big decision for me to go back to television. But I love Kevin Williamson, I love his films. And I had a youthful obsession with The Craft so I was drawn to being a witch.”
As for the “witchy” side of things, when the show starts, Cassie is feeling her way and finding herself. Will we see her kick into high gear as the season progresses? Britt said, “Totally. For the pilot’s sake you have to set up that storyline, and the audience has to understand who this girl is, why she’s been thrown into this world, and how a normal person would really react to this kind of situation. But as far as the series is concerned, she has to embrace this world. It’s her destiny, and it’s within her whether she wants it or not. You’ll definitely get to see her kick it up a notch.” What about Cassie having different kinds of abilities? “It’s hard to say. I don’t get a lot of insight as far as that goes, but just from speaking with them, I think that she is going to learn how to control her power. And with that you’ll get to see all these different things that will come into play … and the magic world will expand for sure.”
Thomas spoke on the intimacy of doing magic with someone, in particular Cassie, who is new to it all, “What’s interesting is that as we go along, Diana [his girlfriend before Cassie shows up, played by Shelley Hennig] wants to find the circle and she asks me to be the one to really get Cassie to join us. And she sort of starts to figure out what’s going on, and through the witchcraft kind of being the romantic clincher … it’s a very intimate thing. In this episode we’re shooting now I show her [Cassie] how to do even more things. My main element is water, and Cassie’s is the energy of others around her. When we’re together she builds and feeds a lot in both of us. But I don’t want to give too much away!”
Dekker was asked where he thought the attraction came from that people have for the supernatural – with witches, vampires, and werewolves. He opined, “I think they’ve always been popular. It’s just now there’s this resurgence. You know how it is: One thing does really well, and 9 million things jump on it. So we have Twilight and then a barrage of stuff. But I think it’s just the appeal of the dark side of fantasy really, and particularly with witches, at least it was personally for me (like I said, why I liked that movie when I was younger). When you’re young, there’s a big desire for power. There’s a desire because it’s often so hard growing up. You’re very attracted to that idea of having more than the rest of the people around you and having a connection with nature and control over things. It’s very appealing, and in a way it’s very sexy. Witchcraft has a very sensual kind of element, which of course is going to be a huge part of the show. So I just think it’s that. And the same with vampires and werewolves. They’re all metaphors for growing up, right? They’re all metaphors for discovery.”
When we spoke, Britt and Thomas were filming just the first episode after the pilot, and it was still all very new. But of course everyone was curious as to how dark “The Secret Circle” is going to be. Similar to “The Vampire Diaries”? She wasn’t sure yet, adding, “It’s kind of a visionary question, but there’s definitely elements of that. You will see that it’s not for five-year-olds by any means! [laughs] But it’s got some light and fun and edge to it, but at the same time it can get very dark and eerie and creepy, and I think they’re just going to try and play with those levels as much as possible.”
For his part, is Thomas hoping Adam shows a darker side? “Yes. That is my dream, and I have told Kevin that, even if it’s just for a little while. I would love to slip into a bit of darkness. That’s part of the fun thing for all us in these roles. You know, the age old rule of witchcraft is there’s the dark and the light. And it’s not about the magic; it’s about the heart of the witch so this idea that it might be very easy for any one of us, even the one you least expect, to get sucked into something even if it’s not too good. Because most of our parents are not very good people.”
But is it scary?
“It is. In the pilot we have to set up so much story and exposition and explain so much, but we’re shooting the next episode now, and it’s already infinitely more edgy in every way, and I mean with sex, with what teenagers do, with horror, it’s just a lot edgier, which I like.”
Next we delved a bit into Cassie’s source of strength and why she would embrace the community that drove her mother away. Britt offered, “I think the biggest strength that she is actually unaware of is her emotions. You’ll see as the series goes on she learns to harness her energy through her emotions, which is scary because that can sometimes be uncontrollable. But that’s her main source, that’s what fuels her fire.” As for why she’d return to the place that caused her mother so much pain, “I think that’s the biggest struggle in Cassie’s mind initially. You know, her mother ran from this so why would she embrace it? It doesn’t make sense, but it’s all she has left to hold on to of her mom, of her life, of her family. It’s all she knows of herself. And as a 16-year-old girl, you don’t know who you are anyway, so when you’re reading a letter from your mom saying, ‘This is your destiny. Find the circle and they will protect you,’ it’s all you have, and for her at least it’s about trying to figure out who she is in this moment and the woman she’s going to be. It’s truly a coming-of-age story at its finest, and I think it’s a definitive choice that she ultimately makes to embrace the power.”
With regard to that pesky “destiny” thing between Adam and Cassie, Thomas indicates it’s going to take a while for everyone in the circle to figure it out. “The adults obviously know … my father knows … but we’re still finding all this out for ourselves. As it goes on, obviously, they suspect there’s something between us. And of course, what does that mean for Faye and Melissa and Nick [the remaining circle members, played by Phoebe Tonkin, Jessica Parker Kennedy, and Louis Hunter, respectively]? They go in very interesting places, too. It’s a shame in the pilot they don’t get as much to do, but as we progress, they get a lot.”
Britt chimed in, “You’ll see there’s a struggle… there’s these feelings between Adam and Cassie, and it’s very much Romeo and Juliet. They’re meant to be together, but they never will be. It’s sort of that idea and dynamic, and I think Cassie has so much on her plate from the pilot going into the series that it’ll be one of those things she tries to put on the back burner because there’s so many other things you’re dealing with, but then you’ll learn shortly after that it’s one of those things you can’t run from. You’ll see that throughout the series.”
Will we learn more about what happened to the circle Britt’s mother was in and the “incident” of 16 years prior that caused so much damage to the participants? She stated, “I think they are sort of skewing away from initially bringing up the past, and they are going to deal with the present right now. But I’m totally interested in finding out about Cassie’s dad, what happened with her parents, and why all these people died and what their power actually means.”
Lastly we spoke with Britt, who’s never done a genre type show before, about adjusting to working with special effects. For instance, in the pilot there’s a pivotal scene with raindrops; what was it like for her to film that? “I’ve never really worked with the genre, the supernatural; that whole thing is so foreign to me, and that was the first scene we shot in the pilot, and they were using a stick to bring up one drop in our hands. I’m like, ‘I’m supposed to react to this like this is normal?’, and Thomas is like, ‘Yeah, go with it!’ So it’s such a learning curve for me and a process, but I’m trying to embrace it and just challenge myself. But it was a really cool scene to film, and it looked so beautiful.”
On the other end of the spectrum was the storm scene, in which she and her fellow actors got totally drenched. Also cool to film? “Oh my gosh! That scene was dreadful, and we didn’t have to act one bit because it was miserable and we were tired and cold. It was like 5 am and we’re barreling through these rain towers, and there’s wind blowers and we can’t see and we’re crying because our eyes are like bleeding. But … it was fun. [laughs] I never want to do a rain scene again. And I always say, coming into the series, ‘We’ll do anything.’ Going from that to the series, there’s nothing you can do that will be worse than what that experience was because that was crazy!’
Our thanks to Britt and Thomas for their time and the folks at Warner Bros. TV and The CW for arranging the interviews. Be sure to also check out our San Diego Comic-Con chats with producers Kevin Williamson, Andrew Miller, and Richard Hatem to learn more about what they have in store for viewers of “The Secret Circle”.
Cassie Blake was a happy, normal teenage girl – until her mother Amelia dies in what appears to be a tragic accidental fire. Orphaned and deeply saddened, Cassie moves in with her warm and loving grandmother Jane in the beautiful small town of Chance Harbor, Washington – the town her mother left so many years before – where the residents seem to know more about Cassie than she does about herself. As Cassie gets to know her high school classmates, including sweet-natured Diana and her handsome boyfriend Adam, brooding loner Nick, mean-girl Faye and her sidekick Melissa, strange and frightening things begin to happen.
When her new friends explain that they are all descended from powerful witches, and they’ve been waiting for Cassie to join them and complete a new generation of the Secret Circle, Cassie refuses to believe them – until Adam shows her how to unlock her incredible magical powers. But it’s not until Cassie discovers a message from her mother in an old leather-bound book of spells hidden in her mother’s childhood bedroom that she understands her true and dangerous destiny. What Cassie and the others don’t yet know is that darker powers are at play, powers that might be linked to the adults in the town, including Diana’s father and Faye’s mother – and that Cassie’s mother’s death might not have been an accident.
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