It's been a long time since Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan) saw the light of day ... or has been seen on TV screens. For fans of The Originals, he's been away for almost 10 months. But when Season 4 finally premieres (Friday at 8 p.m. on The CW), it will actually have been five years since Klaus was defeated by his psuedo-son Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), locked away behind a brick wall while the rest of his family was put under a sleeping spell with their lives tied to his while Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) searched for a way to wake them all up. The Mikaelson clan has been out of sight for five years, and you can bet that their revenge is coming.
But before Klaus can reclaim his throne as the king of the supernatural society in New Orleans, he has to wait for Hayley to reunite his family, and that wait has not been kind on the Original vampire/werewolf hybrid.
"He's in a dark place, both literally and figuratively, when Season 4 begins," Morgan tells me over the phone. "He's in Marcel's dungeon where he's been for five years. He remained bricked up in the cemetery for a little while and then he was moved to the dungeon while Klaus' enemies have been flocking to New Orleans to try and encourage Marcel to kill him. He's been in a bad state: locked up, in the same clothes, for five years, no bath, barely a haircut but apparently a shave."
He adds with a laugh, "His beard has been groomed but his hair's unkempt!"
While five years locked away in a dark dungeon, separated from your family and daughter, would be enough to cripple any mortal soul, Morgan laughs when I ask if him Klaus' time as Marcel's prisoner changed him as a character.
"Relatively speaking, he's been alive for over a thousand years, so five years isn't that long to be locked in a dungeon," he says. "And he can't complain, really, after all the centuries he put his siblings in coffins and they had to endure that. It's going to affect him mostly because his daughter has grown up. She's now seven years old, and that's a huge chunk of her life that he's missed. That more than anything will be deeply affecting him. There's not a moment where she hasn't been in his thoughts. That's going to be his focus this season for sure."
Swooning yet? Klaus has been the most unwilling and unenthusiastic parent throughout all of Hope's (Summer Fontana) existence, but now, everything has changed. She's going to be his No. 1 priority. In fact, Klaus won't be getting any new love interests this season for that reason.
"This season's love for Klaus is his daughter, completely," Morgan says. "He's going to really focused on that relationship and being a father to this girl. She is the No. 1 'baby' in his life, the one whom all his attention is geared towards. It's very different than what we've done before, and it's a shorter season as well, so we could make it much more concise."
It's not too much of a stretch to assume that Klaus and Hope will be reunited pretty early on in the season, and Morgan couldn't stop gushing over how much that father/daughter dynamic would take center stage on the series.
"For me, that's how I approached the whole season: the evolution of their relationship or lack there of, initially at least," he says. "At first, of course, when they do finally reunite, he's just a stranger to her and she to him. There's a lot of trust to be earned there. He's going to have to be patient which is not his strong suit – as we know."
Morgan calls Klaus and Hope's blossoming relationship as "quite honestly the most fascinating part of the season."
"It's something so new, his relationship with this little lady," he says. "She's a little girl now, not just a baby. She can talk, she can express opinions, demand things of him. I don't want to pin down their dynamic because it's in flux throughout the whole season. You're going to see some stuff from Klaus that you've never seen before because of that."
Is it too early to call Klaus the father of the year?