Matthew Davis Panel at the Chicago Convention
If the TVD cast was stranded on a deserted island, who would survive and who wouldn’t make it?
What 3 words describe you?
Random… Thoughtful… Umm… [Audience member yelled “Indecisive!”] (laughs) Yeah, indecisive.
How difficult is it to play a psycho?
Not very. Pretty easy actually. My mom called me up and told me that I play a psycho very well. [audience laughs] It’s a lot of fun. It’s not that hard. You can just enjoy it and it’s basically just stopping the pretense.
What is your guilty pleasure?
(laughs) “I don’t think I can say that in front of all these women. Next question.”
You were great in Urban Legends. Were there any of the legends that you believed in?
(laughs) I don’t remember many of them… the babysitters getting phone calls from “Upstairs” was cool. I forgot I was even in that movie.
How is it different between shooting TV and shooting Film?
The speed. TV is quick. You shoot 8-10 pages in a day. In film, you’ll shoot about 1 page a day…. It is a blessing and a curse for creative development…. Unfortunately, the actors – I think – get short-ended because you are rushing through moments. You have to be on-point right away. Film gives you more time to really explore. But TV has been a blessing. I’m looking forward to doing some films.
What is your favorite movie quote?
Shit, I’m so bad at this. [Steven] McQueen is so good with stuff like this. Uhh “I think we need a bigger boat.”
How do you get into character?
That’s a long and complicated answer. Character work involves understanding the archetype of your character; what your character represents. You creatively physicalize who you believe to be the body of the character: create a link to the root; lines and behavior and circumstance. It’s about channeling these archetypes.
When I had a chance to play Klaus… they had envisioned a sort of Jim Morrison costume originally for the decade dance. So, it was like trying to embody Jim Morrison — in a the form of a crazy, maniacal vampire.
It was terrifying. It was probably my 4th movie, and I just embarrassed myself so much because I was so starstruck; I was so young. It was a magnificent experience, a great lesson, working with her. I think the first scene we filmed was the break-up scene. Her character is so specific, so subtled and nuanced; I needed to match her step for step. It helped me to improve. What’s funny is people remember me from that role, as Warren. People see me on the streets and yell out “Hey, Warner! … Fuck you!”
*Who messes up the most on set? Who causes the most retakes?* [My question.]
(laughs). Oh, I love you buddy… Ian [Somerhalder]. I say that with love.
Inspirations for wanting to become an actor?
I was about 16 years old, watching Marlon Brando, Pulp Fiction, Heat, Seven… and my father was supportive.
What was your favorite TV show as a kid?
The most influential cartoon was GI Joe. Then Cheers; I’ve been sitting at a bar ever since. And maybe Alf.
Have any stories about practical jokes on set?
Season 1 show-runner Marcos Siega. I don’t know if you know this, but I’m into alien conspiracies. [Back in Season 1] I was telling everyone on set about alien theories. One day, I was coming back to my apartment and I got a phone call… from my own phone – it was my phone number. There were voice messages from this strange, androgynous voice that said things like: “Matthew Davis we’re watching you. We know you’re a believer. We need your help. I’m sending this from my brain. The signal’s bad because my thoughts keep interfering.”
I about shit myself, I was so excited. Zach was with me and I was like you have to listen to this! The aliens are calling me! This call spread around the set. I was convinced. One day I came back to my apartment to find a package had been mailed to me… from my address. I opened it and found a big rock. Zach was with me again, he was with me a lot. I said “holy shit, Zach, aliens sent me a rock with a note.” The note said “Bring this with you.” It fit perfectly in my hand, so I was like “They know the dimensions of my hand!”
It was a year long mystery. No one came forward to admit they’d done it. I took the rock to see a gemstone dealer and told him to tell me everything about it. He was like, it’s just a common quartz; who sent it to you? I said, “the aliens.” He got very serious, responded: “I want you to know… me and my family are ready to go, too.”
Flashforward to the end of season 1. I was actually convinced it was Candice [Accola]. I accused her of being an alien. She probably got very frustrated with me. She was always saying “I’m not an alien; leave me alone!”
Finally, I looked at [Marcos Siega] and he admitted he sent the rock. I said: “the rock’s not from outer space?!” He told me that he sent his assistant out to just pick up a rock from the ground out back. He said that he didn’t call me, though.
At the end of Season 2, an old friend came to town. [Some of the TVD cast] and me and my friend went out to dinner one night. My friend had been regaling us with stories about how she’s [the friend] a witch, how she’d caused a girl to break her leg before. Zach and I went outside to go smoke or something and when we came back, we noticed Candice’s entire emotional tone had shifted.
[The TVD cast members with them] had left; we were going to meet up with them somewhere else for drinks. My friend said, “I have to tell you something; I’m the alien” [she’d told Candice, which is why her tone had changed at dinner]. She had some software to change the phone number. I told her that I had to call Candice and apologize [for constantly accusing her of being an alien], which I did.
What kind of music to you listen to?
All kinds. If I wasn’t an actor, I’d like to be an A&R [Artists & Repertoire - Music Industry] guy. Right now, I’m into Indian sit-down music. That’s not sexy (laughs) – but it’s fun.
What is your dream role either in movies or TV?
Prequel to Blade Runner. The industry trend right now is epic mythical characters so I’d like to get into a franchise like Bourne or Batman. Heroic archetypes/futuristic. A romcom [Romantic Comedy] would also be fun.
Saw you surfing in Blue Crush, so wondering if you surf in real life?
(laughs) No. Jack Johnson’s brother actually did a lot of my surfing because I am not good at it. Blue Crush was a big learning curve. [Talking about it] brings back deep, painful emotions. The movie itself is poppy. Bright and fun. But making it was a nightmare. I’m terrified of sharks. They had this one scene where they wanted me to go way out into the ocean by myself so they could film me out there… I felt like a drowning cat.
What are your hopes for the direction of [Alaric Saltzman] in the future?
I would like for him to stop dying. (laughs) It’s like a montage of me dying and coming back. It’s at the point now where they had another actress [who had to do a dying-and-returning scene], and they told me to [give her tips on how to come back]. I helped her, telling her [things like] bigger eyes… less breath… less surprise… look like you’re happy to be alive. (laughs)
Do you like playing the bad or good side better?
Bad. It’s more fun.
What was your audition process like?
Very easy. I put myself on tape and sent it out. They told me they were going in another direction. [Some time later] I got a phone call from my agents, they’d patched me through to everyone – which is usually a good thing, meaning something big – and they said the TVD people called [offering the role]. I said yes I’ll take it. My agents said okay you’re leaving Tuesday. It was I think Monday or something; it was very quick.
What’s your favorite place in Chicago?
So far it’s a BBQ place “Twin Anchors.” Amazing. Also, Michigan Ave [It’s an entire street in the middle of downtown devoted to stores and shopping].
We have a deep question for you —
(laughs) How deep?
— how do you relate to [Ric], if at all, in real life?
Well.. when I moved to Atlanta, I rented a loft in an old high school building they’d converted into loft apartments. So, my apartment in ATL is an old high school classroom. I didn’t realize it until Zach came over one time and said “Dude you play a high school teacher.. and you live in one.” So, I’d say I relate to Ric as a history teacher. I haven’t killed many vampires [in real life].
When you had to play Klaus for an episode, did you work with [Joseph Morgan] to play him?
No; I hadn’t [met him] yet. It was good because I got to work from scratch on this character.
Tell us about [the new pilot] Cult.
It happened quickly. It’s a show within a show about this Charles Manson-like cult leader. [Talked about the show synopsis. You can read the synopsis here.]
Will something happen [as a consequence] for everyone’s lax attendance [at Mystic Falls’ high school]?
Shit, I hope so. (laughs) I don’t know. Everyone move to Mystic Falls. You don’t have to do anything [like go to school or work]… but kill vampires.
What can you tell us about what’s coming up for Alaric?
He gets crazier. He’ll spiral. I love it. For me, the crazier the better.
Last question: Do you want to become a vampire on the show?
[Anything in these brackets (or parentheses) = my addition, generally for clarity. All of these were fan questions, some via a submission box, and some live.]
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