Last week we were lucky enough to be able to interview Kaitlyn Leeb, who plays Camille Belcourt on Shadowhunters. On the show we know Camille as one of the most powerful Vampires and the former leader of the Brooklyn Clan, as well as for her past relationship with Magnus. In our exclusive interview, Kaitlyn talks about portraying Camille as well as her view on Malec and the two incredible men portraying them. She also dives deeper into Camille as a person, offering insight about the complexity of her character.
SDN: You starred in Wolves and Bitten prior to Shadowhunters.
Do you like acting in the supernatural genre? What draws you to it and what do you like most about it?
Kaitlyn: I love acting in the supernatural genre. I think it’s so fun to be able to play characters that are not real to our world but real in the fantasy world. A lot of time, the supernatural genre can tend to be on the darker side which I love playing in as well. It’s super fun.
SDN: In both Season 1 and 2, you had a few scenes with Harry but still managed to show the audience how troubled their shared history left both Camille and Magnus, and how it affected them still.
How was it to work with Harry in these scenes?
Kaitlyn: Harry is so great. So talented and so professional. It was great to play out some of Camille and Magnus’ past as there is so much history between them. Layering those scenes with history and troubled torment is important as well to make sure the audience is aware of what was between Camille and Magnus so many years ago.
SDN: Camille is used to calling the shots, no matter the situation. However, over the course of the first two seasons, we’ve seen her influence decrease: first Raphael took over the Clan, then Simon turned away from her and the sire bond, and eventually Magnus sent her to the Clave to receive punishment.
How important do you think it is to show such powerful woman in charge – authentic, flawed yet strong? And, in your opinion, how does Camille feel about that loss of control – did it affect her in any other way than just hurting her pride?
Kaitlyn: I think it is SUPER important to create and bring to life powerful female characters. Camille is that and more. Her control, power, and presence are just a few of the fine qualities about her that I love. When Magnus sent her to the Clave for punishment, many emotions were present. Fearing the loss of complete control […] since both Magnus and Simon have turned their backs on her. Fear that she may never gain her control back from Raphael and hurt, that Magnus could do that. I think Camille always thought of herself as having more power and when Magnus, of all people, completely turns his back on her and sends her away I think hurt is a driving factor in the emotions she was feeling at that point in time. But Camille is smart, she is calculated and always remains in control – of herself at least. She will find a way to come back I’m sure or is definitely thinking of ways to get herself out.
SDN: Despite Camille having sired hundreds of Vampires who are – as Magnus put it – like her children, we never saw her open up to anyone. Even Magnus, whom she shares such an intense history with, she always kept at arm’s length.
Do you think her behavior can be explained with a protect mechanism – much like Magnus’ when he decided to close himself off to love? Is it to prevent herself from getting hurt by others by turning cold and putting on a facade?
Kaitlyn: I think Camille thinks about [herself] first, always! There is [usually] a story behind any strong, independent woman. Camille is not the type of person to let herself get hurt time and time again so I think it happened once and that was enough for her. I don’t think she trusts anyone but herself and that’s not a bad thing, in my opinion. I think those qualities have made her the person, the Vampire, she is. She keeps everyone at arm’s length to maintain her power. I think deep down she has the ability to soften but her cold and conniving demeanor protects her. I would love for Camille to be able to show a human moment – even if it’s just to Magnus – to show that she is capable of softening and proving Camille is just misunderstood than pure evil. There’s always a back-story to everything.
SDN: We know that Camille and Magnus have a long and complicated history and she tried to take advantage of it multiple times until he denied her and sent her to the Clave. We have seen how she reacts to betrayal when Raphael turned against her. In your opinion, what are Camille’s feelings towards Magnus and how does she feel about his decision? Do you consider it possible, she might try to still her thirst for revenge by going after Magnus if the chance arises one day?
Kaitlyn: Camille can’t be happy right now with Magnus. She always felt their long history would keep him loyal to her. And when that fell apart, I do believe hurt and anger were her driving emotions. But again, Camille isn’t stupid. She is aware of the things she has done. Taking advantage of Magnus in ways and toying with his emotions in the past. She isn’t oblivious to that. Not that she would ever think she deserves what Magnus did to her in season 2 but I do think she knew eventually there was only so much he would take. I don’t know if she would take revenge on Magnus. I think her goals are bigger than that. Regaining power, taking control back from Raphael, even winning over Simon could be possible goals over taking revenge on Magnus. Although, if the opportunity arose, I’m not sure if Camille would be able to walk away from it. That would be a rash decision for her.
SDN: Camille used to have a lot of supporters – there were always other Vampires who had her back, or at least pretended to, so they wouldn’t get in trouble. Now she is on her own, locked up somewhere in Idris with no one to help her.
Do you think that made her reflect on the way she handled things; on her previous behavior or on how she treated other people that stood by her? Does she feel regret or is she blinded by anger?
Kaitlyn: I think anger is there for sure! But she’s smart. She’s trying to figure out how to get back on top and all the ways to do it. She is manipulative and knows how to convince others to help her. Camille is a powerful and strong woman. That’s why I love her so much. She’s intimidating, like most powerful women are. She’s definitely reflecting while locked away in Idris. I think she will figure out a way – she has to.
SDN: Camille appears to be a very cynical, cold character who doesn’t care a lot about other people. The only person we’ve seen her not be completely hostile towards, is Magnus. She always tried to keep a hold on him, even after their century apart. Now that he started dating Alec, how would that make her feel? Would she envy the connection the two of them obviously share and try to get between them, if she ever were to escape or set free?
Kaitlyn: Such a great question! I think she holds a very special place for Magnus in her cold heart. (laughs) But in all seriousness, there has to be a bit of jealousy [towards Magnus, Alec, and what they have]. How could there not be? I think in season 1, she didn’t think much of it because I don’t believe she thought it was serious – or at least serious enough to potentially lose Magnus completely to Alec. Camille has been hurt in her long past and taking love seriously is not something she really believes in. She uses people more than anything. Maybe it would be a nice thing to see Camille truly envy their connection to show she can be “real”. I think the fact that Magnus sent her away to Idris really showed Camille where she stands in his life, and heart.
SDN: In Episode 13 of Season 1, Camille kisses Magnus just as Alec enters the room. Do you think she did that to provoke a certain reaction from either Magnus or Alec? Could she possibly already see the thriving connection between the two and felt as if her grip on Magnus was slipping?
Kaitlyn: She definitely did that to provoke reactions. I don’t think she was aware of the real connection Magnus and Alec shared. She probably thought it was just a fling since Magnus and Camille share such a long and intense history. She plays games sometimes to get reactions from people to see and gage what’s really going on. She probably did just that.
SDN: Alec created the Downworld Cabinet to ensure transparency between the parties, find common ground and work together. If Camille hadn’t lost her position as Clan leader, she would be joining the cabinet alongside Alec and Magnus. How do you think it would affect her to not only see them as a couple, but also forming a front in battle and fight?
Kaitlyn: That would be very difficult for her to see and be apart of. Camille’s control and (past) position allowed her to hide behind that. Seeing them as a couple working so closely together would eventually break her, I think.
SDN: We hope to see more of you on the show eventually, including scenes that highlight the very interesting and complex dynamic between Camille, Magnus and Alec. For now, we were wondering if you could tell us a little more about how it has been working with Matt and Harry?
Kaitlyn: I’d love that!
Working with Matt and Harry was so great! They are super professional and funny and it’s always a great pleasure to work with them. I look forward to playing alongside them hopefully in the near future. Camille, Magnus and Alec scenes would be very fun to play! Lots of drama, that’s for sure.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Kaitlyn. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you, and Camille!
Oh… it looks like the whole team took part in creating this article!