[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Legacies series finale “Just Don’t Be a Stranger, Okay?”]
The Legacies finale was written before the series was canceled but after the producers had been given a heads up that it could be the end. Thankfully, it still gave Hope (Danielle Rose Russell), whom we first met on The Originals, a pretty good ending.
In the series ender, she gets a final message from her father, Klaus (Joseph Morgan) as she’s trying to decide where to scatter his ashes, and while she and Landon (Aria Shahghasemi) might be separated — with him in limbo — the door isn’t closed on them. And she’s the one to open the door to the school and step outside to welcome the new students as the finale ends.
Here, Russell looks back on playing Hope, takes us inside the finale, and shares her ideas for her character’s future.
Now that you’ve had a bit of time to sit with the news, how are you feeling about saying goodbye?
Danielle Rose Russell: It’s been very up and down. It’s been very sad, but also exciting to see where everyone goes after this. I’m mostly just really thankful for having such a long run.
How are you feeling about saying goodbye to Hope? You’ve been playing her since The Originals.
It is really sad. I do feel like I’m grieving a part of myself in some ways.
Especially because you didn’t know when filming the finale if it was definitely the end.
Definitely. We all had an idea. We did say our goodbyes, and I cleaned out my dressing room and I took little things from set. But getting the official news after the fact definitely made it that much harder.
What did you take from set?
I have Hope’s Mikaelson necklace. I have some of her crystals that she used for magic and some other little things from her room and the back of my chair.
Do you have anything from The Originals?
I have the back of my chair. But I had only played her for a year, so the attachment was a little bit different.
The series ends with Hope in a pretty good place — the door’s not closed on her and Landon exactly, they’re welcoming new students to the school… Is this the most hopeful we’ve seen her?
That’s a good point. I do, actually. I do think that this is the first time you see Hope in a really good place and where she has accepted everything that’s happened in her life and she’s excited for what’s to come. But yeah, this is the first time we really see her at such peace and it felt that way when I was filming the finale.
And she’s ready to step into a mentoring role in a way that she hasn’t been.
Yeah, for sure. I think maybe in her future she could have been [that] in some way.
How do you feel about Hope’s ending? Was it anything like you’d expected or where you thought she could end up?
Yeah, it was definitely interesting. We all really expected to go a couple more years. There was never a guarantee, of course, so the ending did feel like a way to tie everything up really nicely, but also to continue if that option was available to us. It sort of felt like it was one foot in, one foot out, but I am happy with how it ended. Like I said, when I was filming it, I felt like the character was at peace, which left me at peace playing her.
Do you think Hope and Landon could be together in the future in some way?
I think there would definitely be an option for them to be together at some point. I think the show has been so much about Hope and Landon that they would always sort of be destined to be together, sort of supernaturally, and Aria and I came up with a couple of ideas as to actually how that could happen. It does make sense to me that they would find their way back to one another. But who’s to say that, at this point in their lives, they wouldn’t explore and experience new people and new experiences and see where that ed them.
Anything about those ideas that you can share?
I would’ve loved to have seen a time jump, for sure, and seen where Hope was in a couple of years from now, but for a while, I felt like Hope could never be at peace unless she was in the afterlife with her parents. So I always was like, maybe Hope should die to be able to find peace. And if Hope died, that meant she could be in limbo with Landon. Aria and I broke it down as to how their ending would be with Hope and Landon in limbo together. But of course as an actor, you have a million ideas of what could happen. But I am happy with how it ended.
Talk about filming the scene with Klaus’ message. Did you watch the video of Joseph beforehand or were you just going off what was in the script?
I just went off of what was in the script. I actually was acting to a blank projector screen the entire time. We did have the clip that post-production put together of snippets from her life, and so I had them replay that just to give me something. I do think it cut together well in the end, but that was definitely interesting. I had no idea what Joseph was gonna do with it. … I didn’t see it until the episode was cut together.
What will you remember about that father-daughter relationship and working with Joseph?
It was a great experience working with him. I really, really loved their dynamic. I think it was my favorite relationship that I’ve had playing Hope and the complexity of that and exploring that with a very talented actor was really great. Even though it was mostly on The Originals, I think that Klaus really lived in her throughout the entirety of Legacies.
It’s interesting because I think that Hope and Alaric would always have that father-daughter relationship. I think that Hope would always reach out to Alaric and always look to him even if he wasn’t at the school because that’s just not where he is right now. However, I do think it would be great for Hope to be able to have Caroline in charge just because she’s so different than Alaric and that influence could be really healthy for her.
The finale did a good job of hitting on all the relationships because we got the goodbye moment for Hope and Alaric, too.
That was also emotional because I really liked that scene. It was short and sweet, but it hit all the right notes. And it was emotional because Alaric has become sort of the second father to her and stepped in when Hope didn’t have anyone. Hope and Alaric’s relationship to me was one of the most important ones to explore in the show because he’s helped her become who she is and has guided her and has been there through so much of her life like no one else has.
And it’s almost like she’s saying goodbye to a part of herself.
Absolutely, 100 percent.
There was that great episode with Hope in New Orleans, reuniting with the family she has left. What was it like filming that with everyone?
Oh, that was so much fun. We had so much fun on set and I really loved the episode and what it served in Hope’s storyline felt really important. In this last season, it felt right for it to be focused on Hope and her family and I’m really happy that so many of them decided to come back for it.
Talk about exploring Hope as a tribrid with her humanity off this season because that tribrid moment was something everyone had been waiting for. How was that for you?
Yeah, myself included! I had absolutely rooted for that. For years, I wanted to do that. I’m so happy we did. I had so much fun this past season playing with that and just seeing what Hope really could have been. It was so much fun to get to play a badass version of her. I remember the episode where she becomes a tribrid, that was also so much fun to film. It felt really epic.
Looking back on Legacies and The Vampire Diaries Universe, how will you remember it and Hope?
I have a lot of great memories and it served such an important piece in my life and in my career. And I am forever grateful to The Vampire Diaries universe and to Legacies for what it’s given me and brought me to where I am today.