INTERVIEW: Michaela McManus (Jules) from The Vampire Diaries

March 10th, 2011 by

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My Thursday nights feel so empty now because The Vampire Diaries is on hiatus. It will be back at the beginning of April, but it still feels like far too long to wait. Before the show went on break, Tyler has an existential crisis of sorts (after a whole bunch of werewolf killing went down) and decides to leave town with Jules (a werewolf and Mason’s old friend). It’s unclear where they are going or when they will come back but Tyler feels he has to get out of Mystic Falls (there’s a lot of supernatural drama there, can you blame him?) I recently had the chance to chat with Michaela McManus, who plays Jules, about her character/playing the enemy of the vampires, the moonstone curse and where she might have taken Tyler.

How did you originally get involved with The Vampire Diaries?
Well, I auditioned either late September or early October, and I originally went out for the role of Rose. It’s kind of funny.

Oooh interesting.
It is interesting, because when I got cast, I ended up killing Rose in my first episode. (laughs) But it’s funny because I was very drawn to the role of Rose. But obviously everything happens for a reason — at least that’s what I believe and I’ve been having a blast playing Jules. I think that was the right fit for me.

Were you a fan of the show before you got the part?
Yes! Actually, I was. It’s kind of rare when that happens, when you’ve actually seen every episode so I was really lucky in that I knew the world and I was very familiar with the characters and the story so it was easy for me to jump right in.

And obviously there’s a big trend going on now with vampires on TV. Were you always drawn to the supernatural or is it coincidental that you ended up on Vampire Diaries?
Not really, [but] I know the vampire thing is pretty big right now. I didn’t follow the Twilight movies or anything like that. But my friend, Paul Wesley [who plays Stefan] when he was cast on the show, I wanted to see him and I was just curious about it and I instantly got sucked into it. So I think it’s so funny because it really goes to show you why it is such a huge trend. People, maybe not even expecting that they are going to be a huge fan, they just get sucked into it. And before you know it, you’re completely addicted and you can’t stop watching. That sort of happened to me. (laughs)

And obviously seeing as you are not a werewolf yourself (laughs), how do you relate to Jules?
That’s a good question, because obviously who knows what that feels like? (laughs) But the core of Jules is that she’s living with almost a handicap in a way. It’s this secret that she harbors and she has to deal with the consequences that this curse creates and her friend was killed (Mason) and so I think the core of her is that she wants to avenge her friend’s death and she’s very loyal. And she’s deeply wounded. And I think that’s where her anger comes from — her hurt and this desire for revenge. It comes from a very real place.

How have you felt playing the enemy of Mystic Falls and the vampires?
I’m definitely not a stranger to audience opposition. When I was working on One Tree Hill, there were a lot of people that were not big fans of my character. I came in and was sort of the cause of why this one relationship didn’t work out. (laughs) And almost every job I’ve had there have been people who are not huge fans of the character. But I think it’s all a matter of perspective. I think if you really put yourself in Jules’ shoes, you can see where she comes from and what it’s all about. I don’t think she’s doing this to make enemies. She comes from a very honest place.

I think the character adds a necessary element of opposition to the town and the vampires. Have you gotten any interesting fan reactions?
It’s funny because even just family and friends who have been watching the show since I’ve been cast — they’ll say “God, you’re terrible because you’re really stirring the pot in this little town,” but at the same time, what I like about it is, for instance, when you see Jules and Tyler leave town in that last scene, I had a friend say “But I’m so torn, because I’m feeling for you. I don’t like you, and yet I feel for you, because I see what you’ve been through.” So I want people to be conflicted.

And as you said, the last we saw of Jules, she was leaving town with Tyler. Can you share where she was possibly taking him?
I think that’s a good question. Maybe it’s Florida? That’s where she’s from, so maybe she’s heading back. But she doesn’t really have anybody there anymore. Her boyfriends, they’re gone. Maybe they are going to go start over? I think really, they only have each other now. So I think there’s endless possibilities as to where they’re headed.

And how is her relationship with Tyler going to continue to develop? Is Jules going to take him under her wing?
Yeah, I think that’s initially where she was coming from. I think she instantly felt the brother/sister kind of bond. Like he was her little brother, and she wanted to take care of him and take him under her wing, and help him live with this because obviously she’s been living with it for such a long time at this point. And she wants to do that for Mason as well. But I don’t know, it will be interesting to see how it develops.

And presuming she’s returning to Mystic Falls at some point, what can we expect upon her return? Will she be bringing any of her werewolf friends?
I don’t know if she has any left. (laughs) I really don’t know. It’s clear that the moonstone is in Mystic Falls. So I think more now than ever, they [her and Tyler] want to be rid of this curse. Because I think they feel very alone but I think they see the danger that is in Mystic Falls. And they literally had to escape. They were pretty much booted. So it’s definitely a dangerous place for them to return, but at the same time, they probably want to get rid of this curse more than ever. That is where they can do it.

Are we going to learn any more about her relationship with Mason? Will there be any flashbacks of how they met?
I think that would be really interesting. I’d never thought about it before. That could certainly answer some questions for the audience. So who knows? I wouldn’t put it past them. They’re always keeping us watching and interested. So it will be exciting, for sure.

Are we going to see more of the werewolf universe going forward? We sort of got a glimpse into it.
Yeah, there’s definitely a lot there to explore. So I’d be surprised if they didn’t continue with it. But there’s the witch thing going on. There’s a lot happening.

Yeah, definitely. And Jules’ main interest is the curse and the moonstone and as you said that is what will probably draw her back. But do you think she would ever befriend any of the vampires?
It’s interesting because in the beginning, she was so against Damon and the vampires that killed her friends. But what I thought was interesting — I don’t know if you remember the scene with Brady when he’s torturing Caroline and he comes out of the camper and she’s like “Well, did you get it out of your system yet?” And you can tell that she is a little conflicted. She knows that Caroline is Tyler’s friend. So as much as she has grown to reject vampires and everything that they stand for, I think she’s torn because there’s a heart in there somewhere.

That hasn’t been ripped out yet…
Exactly. (laughs) It’s still intact.

And what has it been like working with the cast and Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson, who are two of my favorites?
I love them! I adore them. It’s been awesome. The cool thing about the show is that it’s shooting in Atlanta, everyone is sort of a transplant and there’s just this feeling of family on the set that you don’t necessarily get everywhere you work. So I just instantly felt welcomed and they’re just really cool people. Everyone has just been awesome.

That’s good to hear. And what would you like to see from Jules going forward?
Oooh. Well, I’d like for her to find peace. And I don’t know what that means. If it means lifting the curse or I don’t know, I just feel like, she’s really been through a lot of turmoil (laughs). So ideally, I think I’d really like for Jules to be able to find peace with what she is or being able to lift that.

And is there anyone on the show that you haven’t had a scene with that you’d like to work with?
Well it’s funny because I think I mentioned earlier that I knew Paul before, so when I was cast, I thought of course I am going to be working with him at some point. But I really haven’t worked with him much at all.

Yeah, you’ve worked mostly with Ian.
Yeah, and I don’t think I’ve had a scene with Nina. I don’t know, maybe that’s in the future, who knows.

I know you can’t spoil anything but can you tease a little bit about what we might see when Jules comes back into the picture, whether it be in Mystic Falls or elsewhere?
To be honest with you, I actually have no idea, because I only shot up until that point. I’m really curious. I don’t know if she’s coming back or what happens if she does. So I’m truly on the edge of my seat like everyone else.

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