San Diego Comic-Con 2011: Kevin Williamson, Andrew Miller, and Richard Hatem Talk The Secret Circle
As for how Williamson is holding up juggling both shows, he seems to have it pretty easy all in all. "Both offices are in the same building in LA. We have 'Vampire Diaries' up front, then in the back we have 'Secret Circle', and upstairs we have post/editorial. So I just get to go boom, boom boom, boom, boom. It's fun right now, but the way it is, the way it works is 'Vampire Diaries' comes first. That's my bread and butter in terms of my 'baby'. It's the one I still cry over. And so 'Secret Circle' has been designed to be run by Andrew Miller. And he's the guy who was there before I ever showed up. He's the guy who's there now, and I just check in with him, I help him, I go into the writers' room and I play, and then I leave and I go back to 'Vampire'."
Next we asked the question on every horror fan's mind - How dark is the series going to get? Will it be edgier than the books, which definitely cater to the younger crowd?
Miller got our hopes up by saying, "Yeah, again, it's taking the [same] characters, but we're exploring the darker side of this a little bit more than the books. The books allude to it, and the books have the crystal skull, and the books do a lot of things that kind of hint at the darkness; and we're kind of exploring it further and using the multi-generational element to say , 'Well, there's darkness out there.' They all have a feel for it, and exploring those characters, it's easy to slip into the dark side with this magic stuff because it's so tempting and so easy. We're going to try to explore how easy it is to become someone that you never expected you'd become." Crystal skull, eh? That sure get our attention!
Williamson elaborated a bit. "The witchcraft in 'Vampire Diaries' has been so … you know, Bonnie's always been on this sort of learning curve: 'I know I'm a witch, but how do I do it?' Here you have WITCHES. I want it to be scary. To me that's always the challenge. How do you make witchcraft scary? Then when you really start digging into it, it's like the occult, Rosemary's Baby, devil worship, voodoo, all that Haitian creepy hoodoo stuff. It's really scary. But if you can take that and invent your own and then call it the witchcraft of 'The Secret Circle', you've got a really scary, scary sort of rich bible of evil. And at the same time you have the good."
Does that mean they'll be incorporating "real" witchcraft into the show? "We're doing everything. We've got the Wiccan bibles, there's so many different types, but we're sort of designing it to be our own fit, what works for us. I produced a movie called Venom and went down to Louisiana to film it, and I got deep into voodoo - you know, the milking ceremonies with snakes - and it was just creepy as all get out, and I think if we could just take some of that and flavor it in a way which is Wiccan or sort of like an evil Wiccan witchcraft, or something that's really taboo, I think there's a way to make witchcraft really super scary. As well as it is magical and lovely and fun and romantic. Because there's all those storylines, too, so I feel like you get to do both. If you do it right, you can be epic; be good and evil."
What we've seen of the show so far really highlights the kids. How do the adults like Natasha Henstridge and Gale Harold play into things? According to Hatem, "It's kind of cool because the notion is that these people are descended from witches so it sort of runs in the family, and each generation has approached that challenge and that opportunity differently. The parents' generation had an experience 16 years ago that gets alluded to in the pilot and is elaborated on in future episodes where things didn't go as well for them as it could have, and so the question becomes with this generation of kids how will they deal with things, also in relationship to their parents, because not every character is what they first appear to be in the pilot. So there [are] a lot of parent relationships - father/daughter, mother/son, mother/daughter - and you know when you're a teenager, those can be highly combustible relationships, and they are here too for the normal reasons and then also the more abnormal reasons."
Taking that a bit further, will "The Secret Circle" be using fantasy to talk about real issues facing kids and parents today? Miller believes it will. "I'm a huge science fiction fan, and I think the best sci-fi is always stuff that treats the human condition in a way that you don't get to do on other shows, and we're going to strive to do that. What Richard was saying about the multi-generational aspect, we get to explore these mother/daughter stories and father/son stories, which are just very relatable things, but I think we can come at them from a different angle. The power struggle between this mother and daughter is very different from normal people, but we can use that intensity to better explore a common issue.
Back to the "thing" that happened 16 years ago, will we be seeing flashbacks to that event? Miller said, "I don't think we're going down the flashback route necessarily because we can't do flashbacks with our same actors like they ['The Vampire Diaries'] can. But that mystery is going to play into the whole season. It's going to be awesome, and we'll learn more and more about it, and it'll twist and turn as the season goes on and hopefully keep people entertained."