On The CW series The Originals, the Mikaelsons are reunited as a family, after five long years apart, and Klaus (Joseph Morgan) must attempt to reconnect with his daughter, Hope (Summer Fontana), who is now seven years old. At the same time, Elijah (Daniel Gillies) tries to determine the best way to protect the family, which is not something that Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) and Freya (Riley Voelkel) seem to be able to agree on, all while a mysterious witch plans to sacrifice a group of innocent children, including Hope Mikaelson.
Collider: What have you most enjoyed about having the five-year time jump this season? What has it allowed you to get to do, that you wouldn’t have been able to without it?
PHOEBE TONKIN: I definitely think it’s been really interesting to show Hayley as a mother of a 7-year-old, and the challenges that Hayley’s faced, being responsible for this human being, who has questions of her own about her own family heritage and her own powers, and things like that. It’s created this really nice mother-daughter relationship that wasn’t necessarily there when she was a toddler.
And it must feel quite a bit different, as an actor, to actually have a child to interact and have scenes with, instead of just an infant or toddler.
TONKIN: That made a very big difference, especially for my character. As lovely as it was, for three seasons, having baby Hope, it brings a different dynamic to the show, having someone that is listening in on conversations and is very much a part of people’s storylines, and not just a sweet little baby in the corner.
Did the five-year time jump feel more like a reset for you, as an actor, and for how you’re approaching your character now? Did it feel like you had to do a lot of figuring out where her head would be, this many years after the last time we saw her?
TONKIN: I think Hayley spent the last five years doing nothing but trying to get the Mikaelsons back. I hope she at least had a couple of fun mini-vacations with her daughter, but I think she spent five years just trying to get them back. After five years of trying, it was such a big relief for her to finally do that, but it wasn’t so much a reset. Five years is a long time to spend looking for someone, or a bunch of people, so it’s just nice for her to have her life back again.
In the five years that we didn’t get to see exactly what Hayley was up to, what did her best days look like and what did her worst days look like?
TONKIN: I think her worst and her best days were probably the same. She was in a lot of pain for five years because she was without the people that she loved, who are this family that she’s become a part of. The best days were probably the days where she was getting close to finding out how to break the curse, and the worst days were probably the days that she felt lonely without them.
Hayley spent so much time on saving the Mikaelsons, who in turn saved Klaus. How does she feel about what Klaus went through, in that time, and about Marcel, who was responsible for it all?
TONKIN: She feels like what Klaus did was very selfless. He sacrificed himself for Hope, really, and for Hope to have some sort of a normal upbringing. Klaus has done some terrible things to a lot of people, but she was so very focused on helping him and saving him. They’re all very dysfunctional. Even her relationship with Marcel is quite dysfunctional, considering he’s the one that ended up doing what he did to Klaus. They’re all terrible people who have done terrible things, but they have this strange relationship with each other.
Hayley has been so focused on the goal of saving the Mikaelsons, so now that she’s done that, what will her focus be next?
TONKIN: I think keeping her child save is her number one priority, and it always has been. When they were on the run, she wasn’t as worried about keeping Hope safe because there were no Mikaelsons around her to bring in potential threats. So now that they’re back, as great as it is to have her family around her, her main focus is her kid and making sure that her kid is safe.
What is Hayley’s place among the Mikaelson family? Does she know where she fits in, among them?
TONKIN: I think she definitely feels a bit like the grounded figure. She brings a level of normality to this family. She’s just a mom who wants to protect her kid. That’s really all she wants out of her life, to protect her child. I don’t think she even cares about her love life anymore. She cares about her kid.
How does Hayley feel about Klaus, at this point? Is he just the father of her daughter, or is he the protector of her family?
TONKIN: She sees a space in family life for Klaus. I don’t think she wants her daughter to grow up without a dad. Hayley grew up without parents, and without a father figure. I don’t think she’ll ever be romantic with him, or maybe she will be, but for right now, she’s just trying to keep everything somewhat calm, so that her daughter has a father who can protect her. Klaus is very strong, which brings a level of protection to Hope, and I think that’s very important to Hayley. They’re trying, in their very unconventional way, to be good parents to Hope.
Where are things at with Hayley and Elijah? Are they finally free to explore what being together would mean for them, or is she really not concerned with her love life, at all?
TONKIN: I don’t think she’s that concerned with her love life. She has a 7-year-old daughter. There are a lot of threats that come at this family that are very violent and dangerous threats. She loves Elijah very much, but her love for Hope is all-encompassing. Once she finally gets some time with Elijah, which we’ll hopefully see in the next few episodes, there’s a true love and bond between them, but her love is now split, a little bit.
We don’t get to see Hayley and Rebekah together too much. What sort of relationship will they have?
TONKIN: Rebekah and Hayley don’t have that much together. Hayley and Freya have had quite a lot of stuff this season. They’re both very pivotal in the men’s decisions, and sometimes Hayley and Freya have conflicting opinions. They’ve both been starved of family for so long, in their respective ways, that they feel very protective of their family. They just don’t necessarily see eye to eye on how to support or advise their family members.
When you have two such strong women, like Hayley and Freya, who are unwavering in their own opinions and decisions, how do they move past those moments of tension?
TONKIN: I think you’re going to see a little bit of that kind of conflict, in the next few episodes. That’s something that we do explore, and that’s really nice to have. Freya and Hayley didn’t have much to do with each other last season, so it’s really nice to play with that, this season.
We know that whatever this new threat in New Orleans is, it’s going to have its sight set on Hope. How dangerous will things get for her, as well as the other children, especially when the Mikaelsons and Hayley are willing to turn to Marcel and Vincent for help?
TONKIN: Yeah, the big threat this year is probably the most dangerous threat that these characters have seen or heard about, in their entire lives. Anything that involves children is just a different type of stakes. The stakes are so different because these kids can’t protect themselves. We’re not only trying to protect ourselves, but we’re also trying to protect all of these innocent children who haven’t necessarily accessed their powers yet.
Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies and Charles Michael Davis are all directing episodes. What’s it like to be directed by your co-stars, and does watching them try their hand at directing an episode of the show inspire you to want to try it yourself, sometime?
TONKIN: I would love to direct. We’ve been really lucky, on this show, that we have a lot of female writers and we’ve had quite a few female directors. Obviously, Julie Plec is our beautiful female creator. I do feel like, as a woman in this industry, The Originals, in terms of the staff, is quite well-represented. I don’t feel the need to put my hand up to represent my gender, in this particular family of creatives. But I’m definitely interested in it, and it’s been really nice to watch my co-stars direct, over the last couple of years. I think I definitely would be interested, eventually.
Julie Plec intentionally left the door to New Orleans open in the series finale of The Vampire Diaries because she wanted to allow for the possibility of maybe seeing one of those characters again. Is there anyone from The Vampire Diaries that you’d like to see show up in New Orleans, either as an ally or an adversary for Hayley?
TONKIN: I’ll say Candice [King], just ‘cause I love Candice and I’d love to hang out with her, during the day. So, I’d like to see Caroline Forbes show up.
The Originals airs on Friday nights on The CW.