IN CONVERSATION WITH JOSEPH MORGAN
Interview by Jana Letonja
Joseph Morgan is best known for his starring role as Klaus Mikaelson on the enormously popular series ‘The Vampire Diaries’ and its spin-off ‘The Originals’. He can currently be seen in the fourth and final season of the Max/Netflix DC Comics series ‘Titans’ and will next star in the highly anticipated return of season 2 of Paramount+’s original series ‘Halo’. Aside from his work in front of the camera, Joseph has also established himself as a credible talent behind the scenes with the release of his audiobook ‘The Boy and the Beast’ earlier this year and a handful of projects in development.
Joseph, you’ll be staring in the return of second season of Paramount+’s series ‘Halo’, based on the popular Xbox video game franchise. What can you tease about the upcoming second season?
The new showrunner David Wiener has given ‘Halo’ Season 2 a much grittier aesthetic and stuck much closer to the canon with the storylines. The show feels more intricate in its subtext, more character driven, with high level political power games being played out and of course, plenty of incredible action sequences.
In the series, you’ll play James Ackerson, a formidable intelligence operative who has spent his career climbing the ranks of the UNSC’s secretive Office of Naval Intelligence. Tell us more about your character, who we’ll get to meet in this second season.
Ackerson means business. He’s there to shake things up and he won’t let anyone get in his way. He’s a master manipulator. One minute you’ll think he’s your best friend, the next he’ll crush everything you believe in. He truly wants to do what is right for humanity, but he understands that comes with a cost. The greater good is not always the most popular ideology. We’ll also be delving into his personal life and peeling back the layers of pressure he’s under on a daily basis.
A big part of your career has been marked with your role as Klaus Mikaelson on the hugely popular series ‘The Vampire Diaries’, its spin-off ‘The Originals’ and the spin-off ‘Legacies’. How did you get cast on ‘The Vampire Diaries’? How has being part of that series changed your life?
I have always been fascinated with Vampires and genre books and films, so when the chance came along to audition for Klaus, I knew exactly how I wanted to play him. I read a short scene for casting and was called back to meet Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson. Luckily my vision for the character aligned with theirs. I knew the show was popular, but had no idea the impact Klaus would make and the spin-off shows he would inspire. It’s truly humbling, the love and support I get from fans who are still discovering this character and these stories.
You’ve portrayed Klaus for over 7 years. What excited you the most about this role initially?
I was fascinated by the idea of a being who is so powerful in one sense and yet so vulnerable in another. Klaus desperately wanted love and approval and he would do unspeakable things to protect those he loved. He was deeply flawed and the idea of exploring those flaws ingrained over such a long time was tremendously exciting to me. Plus, there was a sense of play I wanted to bring to the character that I felt would make an interesting counter to the brooding vampire stereotype that was so popular at the time.
What kind of roles and projects generally challenge you as an artist the most?
It’s tempting to stay comfortable as an artist, to perhaps try and repeat previous performances or characters. The dream for me, and the greatest challenge, comes from playing a variety of characters, each quite different from the last. But this presents an interesting challenge because you’re starting from scratch each time, trying to get under the skin of someone completely foreign to you, and in my case, I also want to bring the fans I have garnered from previous work along for the ride. So for example, playing Sebastian/Brother Blood in ‘Titans’ Season 4 I tried to walk the line. I created a character who was quite different to anyone I’ve ever played, but over the course of the season, became more like Klaus. My goal was to give the fans what they wanted, but also show them something new, so that they will invest in my next role, however different it may be.
Aside from acting, you are quickly establishing yourself as a credible talent behind the scenes as well. Earlier this year, you released an audiobook through audible called ‘The Boy and the Beast’. What inspired you to create this audiobook? How did you come up with its premise?
I have always loved dark fairytales and gothic fantasy. ‘The Boy and the Beast’ is based on an idea that came to me whilst filming ‘The Originals’. At its core, it’s about a boy in denial after the loss of his parents, who must face demons, both real and emotional, to save his younger sister. I loved the idea that his world is not as it seems, that right and wrong can be layered with shades of gray, and that the truth can be far more frightening than the monsters we fear. The story I wrote became an audiobook because of my wife’s support and talent, spending many hours in the studio producing and editing so I could share it with the world.
‘The Boy and the Beast’ was so successful that you already created a sequel called ‘Bound By Blood’, which will be released on Audible worldwide October 31st. What can we expect from the sequel?
The sequel finds Jacob and Maria running for their lives, pursued by a deadly foe who will stop at nothing to bring them down. It culminates in a devastating confrontation that will change Jacob forever.
You are a supporter of the charity Positive Women. Can you tell us more about the work you do with them and why this charity is so dear to you?
It’s been a while since I worked with Positive Women, but I’m very proud of the work we did, raising money to empower the women of Swaziland. My wife Persia is an inspiration to me and a compassionate activist. Together we ran a campaign to build wells in Ethiopia with Charity Water. Since then, we have primarily been involved in the charity Mercy for Animals where we are part of the Honorary Committee, helping to spread awareness about the cruelty animals suffer at the hands of factory farming and promoting a plant-based diet. I’ve been Vegan for 8 years now and it’s incredible, the physical and emotional benefits I have seen personally. We are also about to launch a campaign to help the hearing impaired, specifically to get a young deaf girl the hearing aid she needs.
What impact do you want to leave on this world, both professionally and personally?
I’d like to know that there were people who loved me, whose lives I made better, whether through my art, my company or my love. That my art inspired art and made the world a more meaningful place. That my deeds inspired compassion and my actions, love.
Joseph, what can you share with us about your many upcoming projects?
Persia and I have quite a few irons in the fire. We hold the rights to a bestselling novel, have recently partnered with a showrunner and are currently developing it as a television show. We have written several film scripts we are poised to take to studios, including a horror film I plan to direct and star in, called ‘Red William’, and a hilarious road trip comedy Persia wrote called ‘Adult Adolescent’. So in between Persia releasing an album ‘Love Letters’, out on 18th August, and me releasing the sequel to ‘The Boy and the Beast’, we’re finding ourselves rather busy.
Talent: Joseph Morgan @therealjosephmorgan
Photographer: Taylor Miller @taylormillerphoto
Stylist: Raz Martinez @itsmerazzie
Groomer: Kennedy Trisler @kennedytrislerhair
Fashion market associate: Celine Azena @celineazena
Market assistant: Joyce Onuorah
Styling assistant: Diamond Buchanan @diamondmoniquee
Editor: Timi Letonja @timiletonja
Cover design: Arthur Roeloffzen @arthurroeloffzen
Interview: Jana Letonja @janaletonja