At the second Italian Institute convention this summer, Nicola Correia-Damude took the time to catch up with us! In the interview, we talked about Maryse’s future and what Nicola thinks of the growth her character has gone through so far. Read on to see what she said!
SDN: Looking back, Maryse has had quite the character development. How would you say she has changed since we first saw her in season 1 and what have you learned from portraying Maryse? Is there any aspect of yourself that you apply in your portrayal of her?
Nicola: I think the way that she’s changed the most is, when we see her in season one, she has lost herself fairly completely in her desire to maintain the family status. She’s let her relationships with her children, her compassion and her bigger visions for the future fall away and she’s just focused on looking good to the Institute and maintaining the family’s political position. So, she’s very focused on that and has lost her focus on other things that are really important. The change that we see is, as her marriage falls apart, after she turns on Jace, after the wedding, [where] she reacts so badly to finding out about Alec and Magnus, she really starts to realize she’s going to lose what’s truly important – mostly her children – if she doesn’t change her attitude. And so, she slowly starts to try and change, and what I like about Maryse is that it’s not easy for her, it doesn’t happen overnight. We see the episode with Max’ rune ceremony at Magnus’ party, she’s trying, you know? She’s not quite succeeding and she’s still sort of insulting Magnus and she’s sort of still uptight but she’s trying. She sees what she needs to do. Now in season three, we see her actually succeeding at that. In terms of how I am like Maryse, I’m more like Maryse in season three. We’re both very family focused, I’ve always been family focused both with my child and my own family, my parents and my siblings. I’ve always been a very family oriented person. We also are very ambitious but I would like to think my ambition hasn’t gotten in the way of my family. I had enough people to teach me how to prioritize my family so I was very lucky. We’re definitely both ambitious, we both love our families and we both made mistakes in the past and had struggles and had to work hard to become people we actually like. I think Maryse is starting to like herself and at this point in my life, I’m starting to like myself too.
SDN: It’s so nice to see your portrayal of her, honestly. Maryse made a powerful declaration of acceptance regarding Magnus and Alec’s relationship in episode 3×03. Why do you think Maryse chose this moment to finally welcome Magnus into the family and how do you see their relationship evolve from there keeping in mind their common past?
Nicola: I think finding out that she was going to be deruned and her past coming out, since she worked very hard to hide her past in the Circle from her children because she didn’t want them to know that side of her, that past that she had [was a major factor]. And she lost sight of the fact that that’s a part of her history and that what would have been the more human thing to do would be to acknowledge that she made mistakes in the past, but she didn’t do that. When she found out that it’s all going to come out, because at that point she had lost her husband, she lost her kids and then she was going to lose her runes, it was a time of complete collapse of everything that she had wanted to protect. So I think she realized that her criticism and judgement of other people was also hypocritical. She wanted to forget her own past that made her forget that she’s not above other people and that she’s made mistakes as well. Magnus loving Alec wasn’t a mistake by any stretch, but with Maryse, I don’t think Alec being gay was really that big of an issue. I think it was shocking at the wedding, for sure, but I think what was really hard for her was that Magnus was so much older and she’d known Magnus for so long, and that was very uncomfortable and intimidating for her. Also, she had prejudices about Downworlders and she had prejudices about warlocks. Now that the truth of her history is coming out, she realizes that that prejudice is hypocritical and she can’t be criticizing other people. How can she look down on a Downworlder like Magnus who isn’t causing anyone any harm and bringing her son joy when she hurt so many people? It really forced her to face herself and to realize that the people that she’d been discriminating against, she owed an apology to and she had to change her attitude. She did it with Luke and then she did it with Magnus and it was time to start apologizing and accepting herself as a flawed person and as someone who doesn’t have the right to judge other people. I mean, nobody does, but she hid behind her prejudice for a long time and so I think that was a big turning point with Magnus. The other thing is, I don’t think she’s ever seen Alec this happy and as a parent, I can say that, if you’re a good parent, all you really want for your children is for them to be happy. So seeing him happy and supported when she didn’t support him the way he deserved and seeing that now he has Magnus to do that for him when she failed him was also a huge realization of gratitude for her. She’s very grateful to Magnus for being there for Alec when she failed. It started in the second season but she wasn’t really able to embrace it until she experienced her own need for redemption in season three.
SDN: Maryse is one of our favorite characters so it’s really nice to see her develop. Magnus and Maryse now have the fact that they both lost what made their identity, respectively their magic and runes, in common. Can we expect to see them sharing some understanding over that fact in 3B?
Nicola: I can’t say anything about 3B but what I can say is, what we saw at that dinner of Magnus and Maryse where they started to connect on a – it sounds funny to say, on a human level – more personal level, that is who they are now as people. Where that goes in terms of their closeness in their relationship I can’t speak about but what I can say is [that] from now on, there is an understanding that started in that scene. You can never go back from that, right? Maryse has, in so many words, apologized to him or at least let him know that she regrets her behavior. She’s thanked him for what he’s done. So from now on, their relationship is different. I also think the ability to empathize comes from struggle and now that Maryse and Magnus have experienced a similar struggle that a lot of people haven’t had, it can’t help but bring them closer together. So we’ll just have to wait and see what that looks like.
SDN: Those words, wait and see! It’s so long.
Maryse: Yes, but we wait and see, too. A lot of people think we know what’s going to happen but we don’t know what’s going to happen until we get the script. I was saying that when I got the script saying that I was going to be deruned at the dinner, I was like “No, that’s not going to happen! Someone’s going to step in.” And then I got the next script and I had no runes! I thought “No, oh my god! I can’t believe this!” I never thought it was going to happen, so we don’t know either. It’s a surprise to us as well and it’s fun.
SDN: And then you might film some stuff and it gets cut and you don’t know either until you see the episode yourself.
Nicola: Exactly! You don’t know what’s going to end up in there. That’s what makes television and movies very different, right? In a movie, you know what’s going to happen. Unless something strange happens, you know exactly what’s going to happen. Whereas in TV, you just never know. I never could have seen Maryse ending up where she is now. When I started doing this show, it was a fairly small part. Not small but it was a relatively small part compared to where she ended up. With her story, I never could have seen her ending up where she is now. It’s been a beautiful journey and so much richer than I ever imagined when I first got the job. You never know what’s going to happen with a character like that. It’s so detailed and so emotional. I’ve been very lucky to play a character that’s developed as much as she has.
SDN: And we’re lucky to have you to play her. Maryse lost her runes and her position in the Shadow World because of her past actions. Alec was hellbent on going against the Clave’s ruling but she made him renounce it in the name of building a better future for the new generation. But now that she has realized the wrong ways of the Clave, would Maryse help Alec and the squad go against the Clave from the inside or would she still protect the system?
Nicola: I think at this point in the relationship, Maryse will do what Alec needs. One of the things that she realized this past season and after everything that’s happened to her is that systems change. We see this in the world in real life all the time. Whoever is heading the system, changes it. Anytime, whether it’s a president or a prime minister or someone running an organization, whoever is funding the media, the reality is that a system is run by people and people are flawed, so systems are flawed. Her blind faith in systems in the past has caused her nothing but pain. So what she’s realizing now is that it’s people that are the most important. So unless she thought that Alec was going to do something that would hurt him, she will stand by her family now because ultimately, family is the only thing that’s not going to change. You can add people to your family, the way they did with Jace and that’s very real and that’s forever, but, family is constant and family is what you have at the end of the day. So, from now on, I can’t say for sure what’s coming next for her, but I believe that she will stick with her family.
SDN: Well, and the Clave is very flawed. Toward the end of 3A, we got some interesting vibes between Luke and Maryse. Despite their complicated common history, some understanding seems to have passed between them and a more friendly and reliable relationship connects them. What can you tease us about season 3B in terms of Luke and Maryse’s development? Do you think his experience as a Shadowhunter cast aside by his own community helps her accept her new life?
Nicola: The thing about Luke and Maryse that is true no matter what happens next, [is that] they’re very much now returning to a relationship that existed in the past. She hurt him very badly. Maryse hurt a lot of people and coming to terms with that has made her a better person. Realizing what she did has made her less judgmental, more open again, has made her love again. They’re also people who have lost a lot. Maryse’s marriage is over, she almost lost Jace, she almost lost her children. In Maryse’s case, it was largely because of things that she did. Not with her marriage but with her children, so she takes responsibility for that. With Luke, the trauma he’s experienced when he lost Jocelyn and both of us being deruned, we have a common experience of loss and trauma and a common experience of being outcasts, like we talked about with Magnus. Not everyone can relate to that, so that brings them together. But they also did love each other. They were friends, they were close and they lost that and they have a foundation that they’re able to come back to, which I think is something important to remember. It’s not a new relationship. Luke has been so generous about not holding it against her because he has also been through a lot and understands her. So, I can’t say anything about what happens with their relationship specifically, but what I can say is whatever happens next, they now are the only two of their generation that are left in New York. Jocelyn has passed away, Robert is gone, the previous administration at the Institute is turned over, they both have been cast out from their previous communities. So really, they’re the two of their generation who are left and now that she’s in a more positive place, that connection is very important to the both of them. Whether that ends up being, I know the question everyone wants to know is whether it’s romantic or not, I can’t speak about that specifically but what I can say is: whatever it ends up being, it will inevitably be significant.
SDN: For sure. It doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship to be significant. It can be completely platonic.
Nicola: Exactly! Whether it becomes romantic or not, the platonic support relationship that they can now have with each other is going to be huge for them no matter what else happens.
SDN: We’re so excited to see that. It’s important to remember that it’s not just the friendship that they share, but they also made the same mistakes. Luke was a part of the Circle as well so there’s an understanding that no one can comprehend at this point, but hopefully we get to see some of it in 3B.
Nicola: And in the world of the show, we’re the only ones left from the original group. So in our world in the show, that’s a very special relationship. There’s only two of us left and we remember all of that, that history. We told our children some of it but Luke and Maryse are the only ones who actually know and lived it.
SDN: Jace went through the worst during 3A and not even Maryse realized it before it was almost too late. In the end, two of her children almost killed each other. Can you share some insight on what Maryse felt as a mother when she learned the truth about Jace and how she will deal with his actions in 3B?
Nicola: Well I think first of all, it’s very traumatic for Maryse to learn what was happening with Jace because she was with him. There was a scene where they were at the restaurant the first time Maryse goes to the Hunter’s Moon and I’m talking to him and I’m sitting right next to my son and I’m talking and I thought we were connecting, but that was before I knew what was happening. And so when they told me – we don’t see this on screen – but when Alec and Izzy finally tell me what’s going on with Jace, as a mother, the fact that I didn’t see it is horrifying to me because he’s my son. Jace is my son and I didn’t see what was happening to him, and so there’s [feelings of] regret and shame that, as a parent, you weren’t able to help and that you didn’t see it. Now, we’re not there yet in terms of what happens next so I can’t speak about that particularly but, the worst thing that could happen outside the death of the child, children hurting each other is the worst thing. And also, what Alec must have felt, having to confront that version of someone he loves so much and what Jace would feel had he known what he was doing. It’s all just so horrifying, emotionally devastating and potentially fatal. It’s so big and I think that for Maryse, the goal from here on no matter what happens in 3B is going to be to try and reunite the family because politically, everything’s changed, but the family can stay together, so it’s going to be about that for her.
SDN: Season 3 went to such a dark place. Through the course of the show, you shared most of your scenes with Matthew, Emeraude and Dominic, who portray your children. Are there any other actors that you would have liked to film more with? Is there any interesting upcoming scene in 3B that allowed you to share more time with an actor that you didn’t have the chance to work with before?
Nicola: Kat, Alberto and I talk about this all the time because in real life, Alberto and I are really good friends, Kat and I are really good friends and we never get to work together. I was in one scene with Alberto in season two, the scene at Magnus’ party, and we never actually talked to each other, we were just in the same room. Kat and I had one scene in the beginning of season one. There’s another scene where we’re in the same room but we don’t talk, so those two are people – I mean I love everyone on the show – but they’re the two I never see. And because we’re such good friends in real life, it’d be so much fun to actually work together. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, I can’t speak about what happens next, but Kat and I were saying that no matter what happens with the show, we’re all hoping that an opportunity comes up later. Alberto and I were talking about doing a play later together because we’re theatre people. We just want to work together because we have such a good time and the characters never really crossed paths in the storyline but I would love to have done more with them.
It was such a joy to speak to Nicola again and hear her thoughtful answers. We certainly hope this isn’t the last time that we get to speak to her and explore the thoughts and insights that she has. Nicola, thank you for your time, and we look forward to hearing and seeing much more of you in the future!
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