Between Twilight on the big screen and True Blood on its way back to the small screen, it seems our appetite for sexy bloodsuckers is still is ravenous as they are for us. Or at least that’s what the CW is hoping, as they begin another season of The Vampire Diaries.
Like most other vamp shows, The Vampire Diaries began life as a series of books. It focuses on the high school girl “Elena” from a fictional small town in Virginia. She meets and falls in love with two estranged brothers – Damon and Stefan – who just happen to have an especially active nightlife. Needless to say, it gets complicated.
The CW turned this undead love triangle into a breakout hit last fall, and the hotly anticipated new season is in full swing. Dish caught up with Paul Wesley and Ian Somerholder (Lost fans might know him better as Boone Carlyle) to get the scoop on the new season.
For Wesley, who plays the “Good” brother Stefan, landing the role wasn’t a walk in the park. “Oh my God, hardest I’ve ever worked for a part. I auditioned for the role of Damon three times, four times maybe. Constantly went back for Damon, back and forth, back and forth. They wouldn’t see me for Stefan, they thought I wasn’t right for it. Then they went older for Damon, they passed it to Ian, and they go ‘maybe this will work.’ They brought me in for Stefan and I read for it like four times.”
As for the competition, Wesley said “I then had to screen test against like, three guys from Australia, three guys from London, four guys from New York, five guys from LA. It was like American Idol. It was like ‘go home… go home…’ and ‘you stay… you stay…’” He credits his upbringing with helping him finally score the role, “I don’t know how I got it but I will have to say, I’ve been on my own since I was 16 years old and that’s a long time… I think if they went with the guy who just left his parents’ house I don’t know if he could pull off being 160 years old.”
Wesley, who doesn’t look a day over 27, explained, “I think you have to have this innate sort of energy that is sort of 160 years old… where people look at you in the eye and they go ‘you’ve experienced something’”
Even after locking down the part, he admitted, “I was a little nervous, because it’s a lot to think about. I have to encompass 160 years of knowledge in my brain and I’m 27 and I’m thinking about the wisdom of my grandfather who is 80, who is my hero. And I’m thinking about how wise he is and I’m twice his age.”
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we asked him about his in-show romance with Elena Gilbert (played by Canadian-Bulgarian hottie Nina Dobrev). “I’m thinking ‘why am I in love with this young girl?’ and then I’m like ‘why wouldn’t I be in love with this young girl?’ Her innocence is amazing. Think about it. I’m 160 years old, her innocence is so endearing and amazing to me. I cherish it.”
As for the love-triangle, it stays firmly in the show. He, Ian Somerholder, and Nina Dobrev have all become good friends. “Ian and I are bros, so I can mess with Ian, Nina is our little sister in a sense. She’s like our protector. Me and Ian, we just riff on each other, and it’s because I love him.” He explains “At the end of the day if somebody I cared about called me at four in the morning and said drive two hours because I am stuck, I’ll do it. I have like four friends that I’ll do it for and Ian is one of them.”
What makes them such fast friends? “Ian has the same values as me. We’ve both been doing this for so long, for 10 years we’ve been working, so we don’t have that naïveté in a sense where we have that seniority. We sort of bond on that level where we can talk from a place like ‘hey man, isn’t this great?’ We’ve been working so hard to get something like this.”
Later on, we got to probe Damon himself, Ian Somerholder, about his thoughts on vampires, love, and his character. Damon, considered the “Evil” brother, feasts on humans as he pleases, but Somerholder believes the brothers are more complicated than merely “good” and “evil.” “I think there is as much room for good in Damon as there is for evil in Stefan. I mean, we all have it inside of us.”
He says of the brothers, “Damon says things that are true because Damon is very truthful. Even if he’s a deviant bastard, he is still telling you the truth. And I think she [Elena] feels she’s been lied to by Stefan. In Stefan’s defense, he has essentially had to lie to her to protect her.”
Like Paul Wesley, Somerholder had to wrap his head around what it means to play a creature that is much more powerful and experienced than any human. “Try for just a second to imagine that as a vampire you have 160 years of experience, life experience, knowledge of humanity, of love, of death, of everything, of history. Then, on top of that, your senses… everything is heightened by 1000% , all the things you hear you have to learn to block out, your sense of needing to feed constantly, having hunger 1000 times more than human have. It’s a very intense proposition.”
Surprisingly, even though his show is riding a wave of vamp fiction, he hasn’t seen or read anything from the Twilight series. His influences go a little farther back. “You know, Lestat [from Interview with a Vampire] is one of the coolest dudes ever… I grew up on the lake in New Orleans, and I remember always thinking ‘there’s vampires over there, there’s vampires over there’”
Was the fearsome Damon scared of vampires as a kid? Never! “It wasn’t that it was scary, it was more enticing than anything. It was the not knowing. I remember sitting there as a little tiny kid and now when I go back there, now that I’m on the show, it’s kind of cool to go back there and sit there and see it and go ‘wow, I used to look at that skyline from 26 miles away across this huge lake and think ‘are they going to get me and mom and dad?’”
Whether you’re scared, enticed, or just need a new guilty pleasure to hold you over until the next season of True Blood, you can catch Paul, Ian, and The Vampire Diaries on The CW Thursdays at 8/7c