Tyler Blackburn on His Soul-Sucking 'Charmed' Demon & If We'll See Caleb on the 'PLL' Spinoff (VIDEO)
Sure, we know actor Tyler Blackburn for his good-guy roles of Caleb Rivers on Pretty Little Liars and currently as Roswell, New Mexico's Alex Manes, but this Sunday on the CW drama, Charmed, he's going full-demon in a guest role.
As Viralis, a soul-sucking demon with a loyal cult following, Blackburn really gets to sink his teeth into a darker role than he even admits he typically plays. But, when he talked to us about the guest spot, he admitted to having had quite a bit of fun going against his usual good-guy grain. (Watch the exclusive clip at the end of this post to see for yourself!)
Also during the chat, Blackburn talked about how he felt stepping onto an established show as a guest star as well as his experience playing a gay, ex-military character like Alex. Of course, we also asked about whether we could ever see Caleb pop back up on the PLL spin-off, The Perfectionists, which just launched on Freeform. Let's see what he had to say in this Q&A:
It looks like there's going to be a juicy bad guy for you to play in this week’s Charmed. What can you tell me about Viralis?
Tyler Blackburn: He is really the first bad guy or villain I'd ever played, so I was actually very excited to take that on but also a little bit nervous. I understood the world of Charmed and it was very over the top in the sense of where I could go with Viralis. I just had to let myself go. Basically he's about a hundred year old demon who has to create a cult of women every decade. He gets them under his spell, makes them sacrifice themselves and he sucks their souls so that he can stay alive. But he's like this virility demon. Very seductive. There are definitely sexual undertones and then he is actually just pure evil. So it was fun to play that.
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Were you able to play with his style or did the script guide you on how big or not-so-big to go with playing him?
I had ideas but it definitely was one of those situations where I put the costume on and the overall look and then you can utilize that as well. And the costume was almost like a mixture of the 1970s but then it was also leather bell bottoms that reminded me of a knight or something. He just was pretty eclectic. And then I had these bright blue contacts on, which was fun too. I kind of utilized that as to just how he would move and how he carried himself. I just kind of tried a couple of things, and it all worked pretty easily. Our director, Megan Follows, she was just like, "Try stuff," and she herself is an actress, so it was a freeing experience.
How does he get involved with our trio of witches on the show?
They are aware of him and they're trying to track him down and infiltrate him and his cult of women. Maggie (Sarah Jeffery) volunteers to kind of become a part of his cults. But because she's a witch, she thinks she cannot be fully absorbed into his spell, but she's proven wrong. So then the other two sisters have to come and save her because she's gotten under deep water.
After years on PLL and now you're on Roswell, New Mexico, how was it to go into a show that's already established as the guest star of the week?
Honestly, I was nervous! This was episode 17, so by then everybody's a family and just very familiar with each other on the set. Before my first day I was a little bit nervous, but everybody was just very easy to work with, and Sarah Jeffery, she's the sweetest young woman ever and we've just got along so well, and so it just dissipated quickly. It just felt like familiar territory almost. So I felt welcomed. I felt like everybody was happy to have me and I was happy to be there.
Is there a chance that we could see you back on the show?
We'll have to watch and see. But at the same time, in a world like that, I think anything can happen, you know?
On Roswell, New Mexico, it's a really different character from Caleb. How has that been for you?
It's just been a really amazing experience, honestly. I went into it knowing I really wanted to play something different from Caleb and just someone who had more layering and depths than Caleb did. Luckily, over those 7 seasons of PLL, they were able to create storylines for Caleb, but this character just has so much more there on the surface. He wasn't just sort of like a knight in shining armor, you know?
I’m so fortunate to work with really great actors, especially Michael Vlamis (who plays Michael). And then once the show aired, the response has been amazing. People are loving the relationship between Michael and Alex and loving my character and the show overall. It's exceeded all of my expectations, honestly.
It’s great to still see these LGBT characters out there and they're still very important to see.
I think the way that it's been portrayed, it's just really humanized these characters and the fact that the responses has been as great just really shows me that there is actual growth happening and change in perspective where this isn't even being looked at as, like, a gay relationship. [The audience is] shipping the relationship just like they would ship a straight relationship. I love it. It makes me so happy.
Of course, the PLL spinoff is off and running. If they found a cool way to bring Caleb into the show for an episode or two, would you be down for it? What do you think?
Absolutely. I've already discussed it with [series creator] Marlene King but it has to really make sense in the world. But I did notice they mentioned Hanna (Ashley Benson) and Caleb, and Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and Toby (Keegan Allen) in the last episode, so that was cool.
Here's a clip from Sunday's episode of Charmed featuring Blackburn and Jeffery:
Charmed, Sundays 8/7c, The CW