If you're looking for a good spot on your TV schedule to dive into some exciting, sexy tales of vampires, werewolves, magic and danger, then Thursdays on the CW could be the ideal destination for you. With "Nikita" moving to kick butt on Friday nights, the network has paired up the returning "Vampire Diaries" with a new series, "The Secret Circle." While both shows come from popular book series written by L.J. Smith and also have Executive Producer Kevin Williamson involved, the new entry leaves the vamps/wolves to Mystic Falls and focuses on magic and power and what happens when young Cassie (Britt Robertson) comes to Chance Harbor, Washington and falls in with a group of teen witches.
The series is much more than just teenagers, however, as we see in the opening minutes of the pilot when Charles Meade (Gale Harold) starts the ball rolling with a book of matches that, well, gets things ablaze very fast. But is Charles truly a villain? Is he just taking orders from high school principal/apparent ringleader Dawn Chamberlin (Natasha Henstridge)? What exactly is their agenda and how does young Cassie fit into it? Our Jim Halterman figured the best way to get some answers is to sit down with Gale Harold, as he did at the recent Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills.
Jim Halterman: Had you been looking to play a dark, villainous kind of role before "Secret Circle" came along?
Gale Harold: Well, I think I'm like most other actors. The villains are always compelling in the way that you make him interesting and just how much you can get away with. Also, this role was very interesting because he is a 'villain' but he's also very engaged in covering that up all the time. He's not some kind of guy who rides into town and starts hurting people, though he does do that if he needs to. He has to be incredibly careful and he has to make sure no one really knows what's going on. It would put him in a lot of legal trouble and he's actively trying to build a whole new situation so the devil side of the character is very interesting.
JH: Do you think it's too easy, then, to just chalk Charles up as a pure, 100% villain?
GH: He's not just a villain. He's known to people in the town as someone who also has a daughter and so he's a family man and if anyone ever finds out what he's fooling around with, the first thing is going to happen, possibly, is my daughter could be taken from me before I even make it to jail. For me, that's what is more interesting. Trying to sell the two sides of the story at the same time and then having that fracture come in even more and see how difficult it becomes for him.
JH: The dynamic between Charles and Dawn is interesting because at least in the beginning it would seem she has more power but is that going to shift as the show moves forward?
GH: I think there's a built-in dynamic of... I know I have to let her do whatever it is that makes her side of the relationship work. I'm the hit man. I do things that could have already put me very far away. I need her to be more level-headed and rational and logical. She's a high school [principal]. People have their assumptions about lawyers that are not always positive, right? But high school [principals] typically are all about the community and the students. There's an interesting dynamic between them. They need each other and ultimately, I think, regardless of what that is, Charles is going to plan a take-over because he's very, very compelled to do what he does and I think it's going to turn into a very serious addiction and once that happens I think I'm going to become slowly less controllable even if I know it's for my best interest to play it safe within the context of burning people to death and making people drown. I think it's going to come loose.
JH: I don't know about you but I did not have a high school principal that looked like Natasha.
GH: [Laughs.] You know, I didn't either and that's probably why I didn't like going to school so much!
JH: How long will it take for viewers to know what the agenda between Dawn and Charles is as well as, perhaps, their own individual agendas?
GH: That's what I am hoping gets right off the ground quickly. I want people who are following the story to feel like they're onto something from the very beginning. Let's face it, everyone thinks they're smarter than the writer but the best part about the reveal that the writer gives you is that you may or may not have suspected it. You may be so clever you figured it out way back when but I don't want to know. I want to find that out with everyone, you know what I mean? It's like I was talking about this before, it's all about the hunt.
JH: Does Charles have a moral compass and if he does do we see it waiver as things start getting more and more complicated in his story?
GH: I don't know exactly what that would be but what's more interesting than morality in this story is what is good and evil? Morals are based on social conventions that are a result of societies living together and working together and invading other's societies and taking their money and taking their people and all of that. I think that on some level what I'm interested in finding out is... I really think Charles is not too preoccupied with the idea of good and evil. I think he's more preoccupied with right and wrong in terms of 'what is right for me and what is wrong for me to get what I want?' That's all I care about. Otherwise, why would I kill someone that I grew up with and force her daughter to move back to the town where I live in and go to school with my own daughter? I mean, that's preposterous but that's not about good and evil. I think if you think about good and evil you can enver do that or otherwise I'd be either Rasputin or I'd be Charles Manson. It's more of a Jim Jones thing.
JH: You've had such an interesting career with all the different roles you've played. Is there much thought that goes into a career like 'This is what I want my career to be' or is it just about the roles that come your way?
GH: If you're very fortunate, you can take the roles that come your way but if you're living more like someone that's living in the reality of the world you have to stay open. I mean, I do know some actors that have very, very specific hard lines and agendas and good for them but that's an amazingly tricky thing.. That's why it's so thrilling to see the way it works and I definitely have other places that I want to get to sooner than later but if you rush it you can kind of run over your own feet. Then, you never know what's going to happen.
"The Secret Circle" airs every Thursday at 9:00/8:00c on The CW.