During The Italian Institute Convention in Milan we had the amazing opportunity to sit down and interview Matthew Daddario in person to talk to him about his experiences playing Alec Lightwood on Shadowhunters, as well as ask other questions about his career. This was really the pinnacle of what we have dedicated ourselves to here at SDN for one year and a half. Saying it was a thrill is most definitely an understatement. You could say one item has been checked off of our team’s bucket list and we hope you’ll enjoy reading these fascinating insights from Matthew as much as we enjoyed hearing them.
SDN: Alec really struggled with a lot of guilt and self-doubt in season 2A, and it seems to have resulted in a stronger, more resilient version of himself in 2B. Do you think this newfound confidence is Alec’s true nature shining through? Or is he using it to mask his vulnerabilities?
Matthew: Now this is a question I think everybody asks themselves all the time. The confidence we’re seeing [in Alec] is certainly real, and I think that’s in season one and in season 2A. In season one we saw that he is confident — he questions certain aspects of himself — but the man is confident in his decision making when he feels he’s doing the right thing. That’s definitely true. Then in season 2A, because of certain events that took place — obviously with the death of Clary’s mother and some other sort of general situations following the decisions made at the end of season one — he definitely started to question himself. And that was an enormous error, because it wasn’t his true self. So I think his true self is that confident and capable individual. But when he for some reason starts to question himself, that’s the fake Alec. That’s the false Alec. That was the Alec that Alec lived with, about his sexuality and things like that, for many years. So it’s a good question, because Alec is kind of a combination of those two voices.
SDN: Do you think Alec has finally let go of the blame he had placed on himself for Jocelyn’s death?
Matthew: Now there’s an interesting answer to this, because I’ve thought about this significantly, and I’ve wondered why he blamed himself at all. Part of the situation is the demon, who plays on your own personal anger and whatever you’re targeted towards. But it wasn’t Alec, it was this demon. So I think primarily what’s interesting is it shows Alec’s greatest flaw is that he believes that certain people are feeling a certain way, and he blames himself for it. So even in this scenario when he absolutely should not — where it’s not his fault, he’s done nothing wrong, where he is truly a victim in this scenario — he feels so bad about other people over himself. He doesn’t look at himself first, he looks at everybody else’s pain, and everybody else’s situation, before looking at himself. And that’s why he created that blame. So I think really, after what it lead to, which was him letting Clary run off to this warlock’s house, near that horrible thing that nearly happened. I think he realized, ‘OK I can’t blame myself.’ I think he’s over that… I think he is. So that’s my long winded answer. The answer is yes. So for question #2 just print “yes” and that’ll be great! (laugh)
SDN: Alec seems to still be struggling to let his guard down and be fully relaxed around Magnus. Will we have a chance in future episodes to see him leave work back at the office and just go to the loft, kick back, relax and be at ease? What might an evening at home be like for the two of them?
Matthew: I can’t talk about what’s going to happen in the future, but I will say that we’ll see elements of it. And certainly we’re going to push to see more of that in the future, of those relaxed elements. But I think something about the two of them that I kind of found amusing, is if you take all of Alec’s personality traits about how he’s concerned about others and things like that, Magnus is the ultimate example. Because he’s so concerned about what Magnus is doing, what Magnus thinks, etc., he’s always kind of like, ‘Is Magnus OK? Am I doing the right thing?’ So we’ll start to see that tone down. And I’m hoping we’ll see some more calm moments. Especially away from work. And uhhh… I can’t say anything more about that.
SDN: With Magnus revealing some of his past in 215 and Alec being supportive of him, will we see their relationship grow stronger and closer? How is it going to influence their relationship and their development in the rest of 2B?
Matthew: I feel that moment in 15 is one of the first times we’ve seen the two of them be real with each other, and be human with each other. Because Magnus has hidden so much from Alec. And yeah, he’s given him little pieces, but he’s never truly shared anything with him… we really don’t see that. Then I noticed there’s this scene with Sebastian and Isabelle, and they’re in the flat together and they’re talking. And in that scene we see more revealed about the two of them, this kind of closeness, this attention and quietness, and we learn a lot about them as people. And that’s what I want to see with Alec and Magnus. Of course there’s been many moments when they’ve bonded, but history is where the bonding turns into something more.
SDN: In a recent interview you mentioned Paul Wesley was able to bring some insight from his time with The Vampire Diaries. We’d love to hear more about what advice or guidance he offered and also what you thought of him as a director? Since directing is something you’ve also shown interest in for yourself.
Matthew: Obviously an actor coming in to direct is very helpful because he knows what to expect and he knows what we’re thinking. That was constantly evident. He knew what we were thinking, what our concerns were, what we didn’t want to be doing, what we did want to be doing, and what we wanted to spend time doing. He was able to utilize his past experience in order to make a very comfortable filming experience for all of us, and we appreciated that. Working with him was a very well designed two weeks. So I appreciated getting to work with him.
SDN: Alec and Aline’s friendship is one thing the fandom is really looking forward to. Will we see more of Aline and Alec together and maybe how his coming out might have influenced and helped other Shadowhunters to find the courage to do the same?
Matthew: You know what’s funny? I had to do ADR recently where I kept calling her Eileen, because in real life I have a friend named Eileen. And they were like, ‘You said Eileen here, and Aline here, and Eileen here,’ all during the ADR. [Davina tells Matt there was some confusion online after the sneak peek about how her name is to be pronounced] What is it supposed to be? Because they made an executive decision it was pronounced Aye-leen not Uh-leen. But now I am actually confused as to what it is, but we’re going to figure it out. [Going back to the question] I can’t talk about that… but you’ll see… but I can’t talk about it.
SDN: Would you be interested in directing an episode of Shadowhunters in season 3? Or maybe you’d be interested in writing an episode? What would be the focus / What would happen in it?
Matthew: Writing, no. That’s the job of the writers and it’s a team. It’s a group effort. They have a focus and a direction for the show that is both in the interest of the network and the interest of the production, so that’s their space. Directing, of course, but at the same time I would rather see Isaiah direct first and then I’d like to see Harry, if he’s interested, direct. And then in order of age, however long people have been in the industry, because I want to see each person and how they work. So I’d like to see Isaiah direct an episode, because he has a certain quality which would be very good for that.
We hope you enjoyed this more in depth look into Alec’s character through Matthew’s unique perspective. One thing is for certain, we could have easily talked to him all day and never run out of questions. It’s really a pleasure to listen to him explain the intricacies of his acting methods and character decisions. He’s put so much time and thought into playing Alec we just feel very lucky to have him in this role, even more so now that we’ve had a chance to speak to him about it.
We also have to say that spending time with Matthew last weekend has only furthered our resolve to supporting his career and bringing his many talents to an even wider audience. He truly is a very special human being.
Be sure to tune in to Shadowhunters on Freeform each week to enjoy his fantastic work as Alec Lightwood. Also follow along with us as his career continues to soar, we feel confident many great things are in store for Matthew’s future.