In the CW’s new supernatural drama The Secret Circle, from executive producer Kevin Williamson, Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson) moves in with her grandmother, after a tragic accidental fire kills her mother. But, in the beautiful small town of Chance Harbor, Washington – that her mother left so many years before – the residents seem to know more about Cassie than she does about herself. As Cassie gets to know her high school classmates, and strange and frightening things begin to happen, she soon learns that they are all descended from powerful witches, and they’ve been waiting for Cassie to join them and complete a new generation of the Secret Circle.
During a recent interview to promote the series, which premieres on September 15th as a companion to The Vampire Diaries, actress Britt Robertson talked about how quickly this role came about for her, how new she is to the supernatural genre and the world of witchcraft, the challenge of working with green screen and CGI, that she’s looking forward to the moment when her character truly embraces her power, and that she would not know what to do with such power, if she personally learned that she was able to do magic. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
BRITT ROBERTSON: I think Kevin had seen my work. They sent me the script, and the day after, I had a meeting with Kevin and Andrew [Miller], and everybody who was working on the pilot. And then, the next day, I went and read for Warner Bros. and The CW. Literally, as I finished the audition, they came out and were like, “You’ve got the job.” It was a three-day process of, “Mom, I’m on another CW show,” but it was cool. It was very short and sweet.
Did you have any hesitation about playing a teenager again?
ROBERTSON: After Life Unexpected ended, I wanted to do something that was completely different from Lux and that show. I wanted to be able to keep my fans, but not have them confused about who I was or what my character was. And, I’d never worked in the supernatural genre, or done anything like that. Something that Kevin [Williamson] was a part of, in that world, seemed so appealing to me. In my opinion, Kevin is the king of supernatural television, and working with him is such an honor and a privilege. All of those things combined made it the right decision for me, at the time.
Were you interested in the supernatural, before this show?
ROBERTSON: Once I got the part, I obviously read the books and I’ve become more familiar with it. I didn’t want to do too much research in the witchcraft world, considering my character is so new to it all. I think that learning as my character develops was probably the best decision for me. But, I really didn’t have much knowledge of it, at all. I knew Kevin’s work. I love scary movies, but I’d never really even seen The Vampire Diaries, up until I met him. Then, I was like, “Oh, I’ve got to get into The Vampire Diaries.”
What did you like about the books?
ROBERTSON: Mainly, it was just research. That was the way I looked at it. Part one was very helpful because I got to know who my character was, coming into this new world. That was the biggest thing. I just wanted know who she was, how she responded to all of this, and what her relationship was with these characters? I try not to get too stuck on it because I feel like it could change, at any moment, because it is a television show and we do have to stretch it out, if the show continues. But, it was just nice to have a good solid base.
ROBERTSON: In the pilot, she comes to the city and she’s completely shell-shocked by her circumstances, after her mom passes. She meets Thomas Dekker’s character, Adam, and all these other people, who are actually part of a coven. And then, she finds out that she is also part of this coven. She is a part of this new generation of witches. And, her first experience with magic is when Cassie and Adam go into the woods, after he just found out, and he tries to introduce it to her. They make water flow from a leaf, and it’s very romantic, very sweet, sexy and cool. It’s such a beautiful scene. It was the first scene we shot, of the entire show. There was a lot riding on it, but I think it turned out pretty well.
What is her initial reaction to all of this?
ROBERTSON: To run away from it. If someone was to tell you that you were a witch, I think that it would be somewhat like, “You’ve got to be kidding me! I’m out of here! You’re crazy!”
ROBERTSON: She knows nothing about it. Her mother was very guarded about that whole world. Her mom ran from it and didn’t want any part of it, and Cassie has no knowledge of what it truly is. Her conflict is learning what it’s about and how to deal with it, and whether to embrace it or run from it. That’s her inner conflict.
How long do you think she’ll be resisting this power?
ROBERTSON: You can only resist the power for so long, when it’s all you have. She has no family. She has nothing else to reach out to. So, the circle has become her surrogate family. Very quickly, you’ll see that she steps up and becomes her destiny.
Are you looking forward to playing that moment where she embraces it?
ROBERTSON: Yes, I truly am. We are working with it now, trying to figure out when that moment actually is. I think there’s probably a progression to it. It’s also about the relationships that she develops. The more she’s able to trust those within the circle, the more she’ll be able to stand up for herself.
ROBERTSON: A lot of it is CGI and green screen, like all the storm stuff. I think that will be a big part of our show, for sure.
How hard is that for you?
ROBERTSON: I’d never done it before, and it’s something to get used to. It’s a challenge. It’s keeping me on my feet and I’m challenged by it, every day, but it’s something that I’m learning to embrace, explore and hopefully master, at some point.
What’s the dynamic between the Circle itself?
ROBERTSON: It’s great. I think that the more different dynamics that we can play, the more interesting it will be and the more audiences are going to want to watch my relationship with Faye (Phoebe Tonkin), or Diana (Shelley Hennig), or Adam (Thomas Dekker). Because it’s such an ensemble, it can be very interesting to play, with all those different variations.
How dangerous is Faye going to be for Cassie?
ROBERTSON: In the first couple of episodes that you see, Faye is a big force in Cassie’s life and in the circle, and we butt heads, all the way. But, like in the books, you’ll see those relationships grow, develop and enrich.
ROBERTSON: I don’t think that I’m the type of person who would be capable enough to know what to do with it, and I think that’s similar to my character’s conflict in the show. Her biggest fear is to be out of control with her powers and to do something that she is not intending on doing. That would be the scariest thing for me as well – for it to go so completely wrong that you end up hurting somebody, or you end up doing something evil.
What sort of stunts are you doing in this?
ROBERTSON: We just got finished doing a couple of really cool stunts. I don’t know what I can reveal about them, but Adam ends up being Cassie’s instructor a little bit, through this whole magical experience. So, we got to do a couple of cool stunts together.
Are you working with a trainer?
ROBERTSON: I am working with a trainer. We have a stunt coordinator, but off set, I started working with a trainer as well. I’m trying to get buff.
ROBERTSON: My trainer in Vancouver is awesome. She actually worked with Shiri Appleby on Life Unexpected, when we were up there, so I knew of her and she’s great. She just has me do the basics. We do boxing, hikes, weight training and pilates. We’re trying to keep a mix.
After a busy day on the set, what do you do to relax?
ROBERTSON: I go home to my roommate, Phoebe [Tonkin], who is on our show. She plays Faye. We make food and we work out.
How did you guys end up as roommates?
ROBERTSON: Both of us wanted to save on rent. No, we are in Vancouver and we know no one, and Phoebe and I get along really well. We both wanted a roommate. I was just going to find someone random on Craig’s List, but that’s scary. She was like, “Why don’t we just room together?” So then, we found a place and that’s how it came to be.
ROBERTSON: It’s all so blurry, but I was young. I was home-schooled. My mom wasn’t a fan of public school systems. She was scared of letting me go. So, she home-schooled my siblings and I, and she was desperately trying to find something for me to do, for an extracurricular. She was trying to socialize me, so she put me in community theater and I was instantly taken by it. I can’t sing, so musicals were out, but acting was still a possibility. I got involved in a local convention, and there were agents from New York and L.A., and they suggested that I go out to California. I was 14 or 15 when I moved to L.A. permanently, but I had been out for pilot season, for a few years before that.
What did you think of L.A.?
ROBERTSON: I never found it to be a big deal. I was so young that I didn’t know any different. I came to this town and was like, “Okay, I guess I’ve got to make some friends now.” For me, it was never a big deal. I never had a problem with social situations. A lot of times, when people are in school, they can have a little hesitancy because people are mean sometimes. I never had that problem because I never had that experience. So, I had a pretty easy transition. I made friends fairly quickly. I love my life here in L.A., but I still go home often and enjoy my time there as well.