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Vampire Academy Bosses Reveal How Rose and Dimitri's Relationship Is Different in Peacock Adaptation

'Everything you loved about the books will be there,' showrunner Marguerite MacIntyre told TV Guide

Kat Moon

For 13 years, Julie Plec and Marguerite MacIntyre lived in the Vampire Diaries Universe. It started with The Vampire Diaries in 2009 — which Plec developed and MacIntyre starred in — and continued with the spin-offs The Originals and Legacies. Now, more than a decade after we first met Elena, Stefan, and Damon, Plec and MacIntyre have built a new world for the screen with bloodsuckers at its center. The pair is launching Vampire Academy, based on Richelle Mead's young adult series of the same name.

"We set out to make a show that stands on its own with a singular, unique identity," Plec told TV Guide ahead of the series premiere on Peacock. She said that after working on the Vampire Diaries Universe franchise for so long, both her and MacIntyre wanted to take a different approach with this project. "It was like, let's not do what we've done a million times before," Plec recalled. "Vampire Diaries really was one vibe. Originals really took it in another direction and Legacies, again," MacIntyre added about the CW shows. "[Julie has] a history of having made things that are slightly different but because of Richelle Mead's book series, there was this other world — this big, big world that we could jump in." 

Similar to the story in the novels, which were first published in 2007, Vampire Academy the series follows a pair of best friends: Rose Hathaway (Sisi Stringer), a half-vampire, half-human Dhampir, and Lissa Dragomir (Daniela Nieves), a Moroi vampire and the last of her royal family. Rose is determined to become the top Guardian at St. Vladimir's Academy so that she can protect Lissa. The series also features Kieron Moore as Dimitri Belikov, a Dhampir Guardian who also becomes Rose's love interest, in the novels, and Andre Dae Kim as Christian Ozera, a Royal Moroi who has been ostracized by vampire society.

Kieron Moore, Sisi Stringer, Vampire Academy

Kieron Moore, Sisi Stringer, Vampire Academy


MacIntyre said that shooting the series in Spain contributed to the show's distinct tone. "We're also playing in modern and ancient at the same time. You'll see some scenes where you're like, are we in the 1500s?" She described. "And some scenes where there'll be something a little steampunk and somebody with a K-pop hairdo." 

The showrunners gave much thought to how they would adapt Mead's novels for TV. "I think the way Julie describes it is we have this beautiful sandbox to play in," MacIntyre said. "You may not see everything in the order that they are in the books, but everything you loved about the books will be there." MacIntyre and Plec also discussed the themes they hoped to highlight to today's viewers. Much of this centered on the relationship between the Royal Moroi and the Guardian Dhampir. "In some ways, Richelle was prescient writing about a class system sort of coming apart, and people starting to look at where they landed in that and what was fair and what wasn't fair," MacIntyre explained. "Now seems this perfect time to tell it. So we heightened that aspect of the show." 

For many fans of Mead's series, much of the anticipation for the adaptation will be directed toward the portrayal of Rose and Dimitri's romance. In the books, Rose is initially 17, and the attraction between the two begins after Dimitri becomes her training instructor. Asked about how the series reframes this relationship, Plec said, "There were just certain things that when we went back and reread the source material we thought, [in] today's world, it's uncomfortable in a way." Hence, Rose is 18 at the start of the show. "Dimitri is still more of an adult peer. But he's not her direct teacher," Plec added. "We kind of got away from the stuff that might be a little bit accidentally triggering to someone, any questions of consent." 

But Stringer said the relationship between Rose and Dimitri is still forbidden. "Dhampirs aren't supposed to get into relationships because that takes attention away from their duty and their protection and being Guardians for Moroi," she said. "So it's a forbidden love story in that way."

Plec expanded on another part of this relationship. "One thing that we had a lot of fun with, which we really used the books as a touchpoint and then really expanded on it, is that Dimitri is someone who's really grounded in faith — faith in the institution and faith in the rules," she explained. "And Rose is such a wonderful rule breaker." Because of her desire to challenge the system, Plec said that she asks Dimitri all the questions. "And he's saying to her, I can't because if my worldview crumbles and my faith crumbles, then what do I have?" Plec said. "So it's a really good dynamic between the two of them."

MacIntyre said their conflicting mindsets become key to how the relationship develops in the series. "She pushes him to ask more questions, he pushes her to think about the consequences of her behavior," she said. "And so they make each other a little bit better as they go forward." 

Vampire Academy premieres on Sept. 15.