‘Vampire Diaries’ world becomes Matt Davis’ legacy
LOS ANGELES – A lot of life changes convinced Matt Davis he needed some kind of consistency.
When Julie Plec, the executive producer of “The Vampire Diaries,” asked him to return to that world in a new spinoff, he didn’t think twice.
“It’s very appealing and healing and grounding,” he says of the new series, “Legacies.” “The world was in such a crazy state, I needed something like this.”
His character – Alaric Saltzman – turned up in both “Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals.” Now, in “Legacies,” he’s the headmaster of the Salvatore Boarding School for the Young and Gifted – a human among super-humans. “He’s incredibly vulnerable, yet he’ll be the eyes of the world.”
In “Vampire Diaries,” Alaric was a vampire hunter who was killed, then resurrected. In “The Originals,” he began his run at Salvatore. And now, in the new series, he’s training another generation for a world that may not be accepting.
For Davis, who turned 40 in May, it was a great opportunity to embrace a new phase in his career. “I love this phase,” he says. “I started (the business) when I was 21 and I’ve been grinding it out ever since, year after year. I was never comfortable playing those beefcake types and I never did a lot of that.
“As you get older, you get past the way you look and you have stories you want to tell. You have to be open to evolve, as opposed to playing that younger, heartthrob-y character. The father figure is far more interesting.”
Saltzman advises his young wards, helps them deal with a cruel outside world and searches for his own path.
He’s not unlike Davis. While starring on the first two series in the CW oeuvre, “I lost my father, I had an engagement fall apart. People had kids. People passed away. It was a whole life gestalt.”
Davis left the “Vampire Diaries” universe to star in “Cult” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” “No matter how I tried, there was this gravitational pull that kept pulling me back in,” he says. “It’s because (Alaric’s) story isn’t finished. The world and the fans weren’t done with it.”
“Alaric’s entire journey of the first season is these kids kind of coming into their own and finding their own autonomy and demanding their own autonomy,” Plec says. “Alaric, over the years, has been a vampire hunter, an original vampire, dead, reborn, history teacher, mentor, guardian and father. So this seemed like the right job for him.”
Regulars from the other shows will also turn up. And, yes, some of the sets are the same. “You definitely feel the atmosphere of the other shows,” Davis says.
A horror film fan, Davis says he grew up watching slasher/zombie movies. “The first movie I ever saw was ‘Jaws,’ so I’ve been psychologically scarring myself ever since. It’s fitting that I find myself in this world, based on the influences I had as a kid.”
While Davis cut his teeth on films like “Pearl Harbor” and “Tigerland,” he made a big impression with “Legally Blonde,” playing Reese Witherspoon’s caddish boyfriend. Now that she has announced another sequel, Davis figures he could slip in there, too.
“That world has never been finished for me, either,” he says. “That movie lives in the hearts and minds of so many people. To this day, I have so many people coming up to me talking about that character. If there’s a possibility of him coming back, I would love to see him again.”
Meanwhile, Davis is nurturing his paternal side on “Legacies.” His co-stars are “a different breed of people coming down with a whole new operating system uploaded.” They know how to maneuver the minefields he didn’t.
“All of my life experience is now crystallizing and coalescing,” Davis says. “I love (being) 40. My work is better because of it.”