Known for his role as the vampire Enzo on CW’s The Vampire Diaries, Michael Malarkey is more than just an actor. He’s also a singer/songwriter, husband, and father. This season his character is back in full force with some powerful scenes that will get your blood pumping–just keep him away from your veins!
What can you tell us about what’s in store for Enzo and Lily Salvatore in Season 7?
“Well. Well, well, well. There’s quite a lot in store, actually. It goes through quite a few peaks and troughs. We kind of start at the top of the season with Enzo trying to pick his side, and we see—actually, we saw it at the end of Season 6 that he moved into the Salvatore house with Lily and the heretics. At the beginning of the season in the episode tonight we see how he kind of ended up making that choice. However, at the same time as much as he connects with Lily he feels like the heretics are a slightly different breed of people and maybe not necessarily his kind of people. So that’s part of the dilemma that he has living in this house with these people.”
Can you dish on any potential love interest(s) for Enzo in this season?
“Oh yeah, there definitely is. What can I say, what can’t I say… We have a flash forward that happens in Episode 5 where we see him with somebody on the show, and as we trace this trajectory we see how that blossomed and becomes what it is in the future. We’ll see how they end up writing it; it could all change. But at the moment there definitely seems to be a love interest that is pretty solid.”
What’s it like to play a vampire on The Vampire Diaries in terms of makeup, special effects, stunts, things like that?
“It’s a boy’s dream to be able to play a supernatural character. You get fight scenes, and there’s blood and gore and stuff. As far as special effects go, a lot of it’s done in post so we don’t see a lot of it, but the stuff that’s really enjoyable is when we do fight scenes, for example. There’s a great one coming up with me and another character, a pretty extensive fight scene in the woods, which was amazing to shoot. This other actor has done quite a bit of fight work as well as I have, so we just basically cranked it up and brought it up to speed. Actually, the stunt doubles that were there were just like ‘We don’t even need to be here. You guys seem to have this under control.’ The fight, when you see it, is all us.”
When did you learn that Enzo’s story arc was going to be expanded, because he started out kind of as a recurring character and now he’s a member of the main cast?
“It was actually in Season 5, around Christmas time. I started in Episode 9 of Season 5, and the last episode I shot before Christmas was 14. Then over the break I got offered some other work and so I brought that to the table and said, ‘Hey guys, I’ve got this other thing.’ They came back and offered me a regular role and seemed very keen on keeping me on the show. That as well as the fact that I just came to really adore this team was a huge factor in deciding to be here in more of a long-term situation.”
Are you excited for your character to be getting more development now?
“Oh, absolutely. I felt like he’s kind of gone up and down a little bit. I feel like last season there were moments where I was doing the same thing as far as his journey, and this season already starting from this episode tonight we see a lot more layers to the onion being opened up. We see a meaner side to him, we see a softer side, there’s a lot of different elements to the character. He’s almost more humanized, in a way, and I think viewers will connect with that aspect of his character. Everyone loves a villain with a heart, as they say.”
Has your role on The Vampire Diaries affected your music production in any way?
“Absolutely. It’s basically given me a huge platform to be able to promote my music. I’ve been a musician since before I was an actor. It was my first passion. I started off playing in punk and hardcore bands. When I finally came into acting I was still writing music as a singer/songwriter, not really publicly. I was recording my own little albums with my buddies and just sending them to friends and stuff. But since being on the show and since my songwriting has improved greatly since back in the day—you listen to some of that old stuff and it’s pretty whacky—it seemed the perfect time for me to just do it. Especially also while you’re on a long-running show like this there’s a lot of downtime. The character arcs ebb and flow. Certain characters take the forefront in some episodes, so I find myself with a couple of weeks off here and there. It just seemed like the perfect time for me to work on my music during those downtime periods, because I couldn’t really audition for other stuff because of being locked into the show.”
Speaking of music, do you have anything new in the works for your fans to listen to?
“Oh, yes I do! I have a brand new EP coming out November 20, and pre-order for it starts next Friday on October 16. It’s a 7-track EP. It takes everything up a notch from the last release. I’m very, very happy with it and excited to get it out there. It’s a lot darker, a lot fuller, and I think people will dig it.”
Who do you consider to be your biggest musical influences?
“I worked in a record store for six years when I was younger playing in bands, so my influences are very hard to pin down. I grew up listening to punk, hard-core, jazz, hip-hop, all that stuff. I feel like a lot of different genres have influenced me in ways. Definitely punk and hard-core, but my music’s nothing like that. It’s more of a moody, narrative-driven folk kind of vibe. But as far as that breed of music goes, my holy trinity of singer/songwriters are Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Nick Cave. Those guys just inspire me every day. They’re my favorite three dudes.”
What do you like to do for fun when you’re not busy performing?
“Any free time I have I like to get away and write music, but I’ve got a little one-year-old now who was born in September. He’s basically taking up a lot of my time. They’re rambunctious in that age. We do a lot of little day trips. He’s into everything. My records—he broke the needle on my record player the other day. He didn’t know any better. We bought him a little toy record player, Fischer Price, that he can bang around. So you know, stuff with the family, and I like to go out for meals and things. I don’t do any stitching or any of that stuff.”
The Vampire Diaries airs Thursday’s on The CW at 8/7c.