In fantasy drama Shadowhunters, warlock Magnus Bane and half-angel warrior Alec faced their toughest opponent yet—a first date.
The Freeform show, adapted from the popular book series by Cassandra Clare, features a rich supernatural world of magic, shapeshifters, and an apocalyptic struggle pitting good and evil—and even families—against each other.
But series fans live for the relationships between characters, none more so than Magnus (Harry Shum Jr.) and Alec (Matthew Daddario), or “Malec,” as the shippers call them. While the two men ended season one with an explosive kiss, season two hasn’t given much time to developing the relationship. Until now.
Last week, the pair finally went on a long-promised first date that was sweet, awkward, and totally relatable—if you’ve lived a few centuries and dated a couple thousand people, that is.
We talked to both actors ahead of Monday’s episode, which promises more Malec moments. Also, catch a glimpse of the two cozying up in exclusive photos for Out.
Out: How has your character evolved from season one to season two?
Harry Shum Jr.: For Magnus, we’ve only seen a little portion of his life on screen. Here’s a guy who’s lived for centuries, who has been through so much, but you only get to see like a speck of what he goes through. Really, he thought he wasn’t going to have any new experiences. But when Alec starts to come into his life, he has hope for love again.
Matthew Daddario: In the first season, Alec was this really closed-off young man. He was too tough for his own good; he tried to hide from who he is. He focused on helping others to help himself not think about himself. Now, he’s being forced to acknowledge he can’t continue being this way, and he’s becoming a more open, emotionally available person.
How did you approach filming that first-date scene?
Harry: We (Matt and I) knew and realized how important the scene was to both the book fans and people who’ve fallen in love with the show. Going into the date scene, we wanted Magnus and Alec to be grounded–that there’s a human element outside the fantasy. Yes, we’re playing a warlock and a shadowhunter, but we kept asking—can someone relate to two guys trying to figure out how to connect on a higher level than just attraction?
Matthew: It’s a fun scene; I wish we could have more outings and dates. These two haven’t really had time to get to know each other, so sending them on a date initially had a lot of room for amusement. They’re very different, but they have the same key values. It’s a really grounded moment for a show with werewolves and people transforming everywhere. Maybe one time we’ll get Alec drunk where he just finally loosens up. [Laughs.]
What do you think is the most powerful message to viewers about how your character approaches their sexuality?
Harry: Magnus just loves—no matter what we specify with genders, with Magnus it’s just love. He doesn’t put you in a specific category. That’s the beauty of Magnus—he’s been hurt so many times that he is open to love on all platforms.
Matthew: I’ve thought about this a lot. Alec is a young man with a lot of things going on in his life, but he was never able to admit to himself who he was, who he was sexually attracted to. Even with the world basically ending around him, being unable to admit that eats at a person. You can do everything in your life very well, but that dishonesty still eats at you. Let’s face it: Alec is a bit of a son of a bitch. Now that he’s opening up, he’s a much happier person.
What can we expect for ‘Malec’ in upcoming episodes?
Harry: It can go good or bad. Just like anybody you meet, from the date you learn things that aren’t ideal for a partner. You want take a little time to digest; that’s what they need.
Matthew: Alec is not the smoothest operator. [Laughs]. He is not good at this situation. He tries to seek out some advice, and he’s curious. But even with the world ending, when Alec needs to, he takes charge.
Any awkward first-date stories of your own?
Harry: I think every date I had in high school was awkward. [Laughs.] I was trying to be the ideal date, and I just ended broke, because I thought I had to buy flowers and all these things. I was trying so hard to impress these girls, and the dates where we just went out and had hot dogs or something, those were the most meaningful.
Matthew: When I think of a “first date,” I think meeting somebody in a coffee shop or a blind date. So I’ve never actually been on a first date in that sense. I think those only happen in movies, but other people tell me they are real. [Laughs.]
Shadowhunters airs Mondays, 8 p.m. Eastern, on Freeform.