‘The Vampire Diaries’ could easily have been written off as just another CW teen show, but the sexiness of the cast instantly took it to extremely watchable status. Alongside Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley, star Ian Somerhalder is responsible for a third of that sex appeal … at least.
After a first season of some high highs (tricking his way into his brother’s relationship with Elena) and very low lows (getting duped by the vampire who turned him), Somerhalder’s bad boy bloodsucker Damon Salvatore is in a very dark place in Season 2.
I caught up with Somerhalder to hear all about playing vulnerable, which of his castmates he has a blast shooting with, who Damon might find “useful” this season and the pretty racy scene fans have been waiting for.
Bonus: He talks around it a bit, but I got him to choose whether Damon is on Team Katherine or Team Elena. Whose side are you on?
It was quite a finale for Damon last season … we’ve never seen him like that!
[Laughs] Yeah, he is being humbled. It’s interesting, the ups and downs, art imitating life, which is kind of fun to watch, but there are a couple dynamics that are going to start to change. At the beginning of Season 1, Damon’s sort of this almighty, powerful, sadistic, kind of funny individual … and then he just gets leveled. [Laughs] Over and over and over again.
Well on one hand it was nice to see Damon vulnerable, because it proved he still has a hint of humanity, but on the other hand, he can’t stay like that for long, can he?
No, I hope not. You know, Season 2, you start to understand that there are certain elements that’ve come to town that sort of force Damon to shift his focus quite a bit and actually ask himself what’s important to him. I think throughout this first year, he’s forged these relationships. He initially came to town … like Damon said in the finale, “I came here wanting to destroy it, now I find myself wanting to protect it. How the hell has that happened?” And I think that it has happened. Any time you forge relationships with people and you have a vested interest in their safety and well-being, you essentially raise the stakes. You pretty much do anything to protect that. I think he’s found himself, for the first time in 150 years, actually caring about something.
But Damon and Stefan will still be bickering, right?
The end all be all is he loves his brother, and his brother loves him. No matter how many times they’ve literally had the opportunity to kill one another, they’re still walking around. There are obviously major differences, but I think Damon and Stefan are gonna have to set those aside and actually focus on what’s the give and the take of letting that age-old vendetta go away. They actually have to focus and protect what they love, which is gonna be interesting, by virtue of the fact that Katherine is back.
Oh Katherine … is it bad that I just love to hate her?
Katherine is just one of those individuals you don’t want to f*** with … excuse my language, that you don’t want to mess with. I thought Damon was badass and just wrong in so many ways. Katherine is a sadistic, selfish bitch, and she is gonna play them like a fiddle. And she crushes Damon … she does, she crushes him … over and over and over again. [Laughs] Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. At this point, it’s like 10 — shame on me! [Laughs] Shame on Damon! He feels like such an idiot. And when we feel that stupid, what do we do? We lash out like a petulant child, you know?
Which is what he does best! Drinking, dancing in the rafters …
How soon after last season’s finale do we pick up in the Season 2 premiere?
Minutes, seconds … we start off in the finale. Literally. Which is great because to be honest with you, even just being away from the show for a couple of months, I sort of lost my footing on what was going on. It’s really helpful starting where we left off, and even going back a moment, back into the season finale. What’s starting to happen this season as well is someone we know very well … there are other vampires around now that were very unlikely candidates, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s fun to see dynamics change and to watch someone sort of figure out being a vampire when they’re so new at it. I’ve been doing it for a year and a half, and Damon’s been doing it for 150 years like Stefan, so you start to understand what it’s really kind of about. To watch someone go through the process of that is a lot of fun actually. [Laughs]
Lots of hazing, I’m sure. Damon doesn’t seem like the best teacher though …
Aw, Damon’s a good teacher! He just might teach you what he wants to teach you. [Laughs] Whatever’s most beneficial for him.
Now you have to pick, stake to your heart — do you think Damon is Team Katherine or Team Elena?
Well, Katherine is really just a figment of his imagination, and now sort of a tangible metaphor for his naiveté. It’s kind of a strange dichotomy because there’s a certain naiveté that comes with youth, and when you’re in love it’s amplified exponentially. To carry that around as you grow older — for 150 years — about a woman who you soon find doesn’t care about you at all. And then, for some reason, you meet her doppleganger, who is this sweet, innocent, strong young woman. I will be so bold to say that Damon’s not Team Katherine. It would help Damon if Katherine was gone or dead.
So then Team Elena it is!
What’s been the scene in Season 2 that you think fans will flip over? Something particularly fun maybe?
There’s a pretty racy scene with Elena and Damon. I wouldn’t necessarily call it fun … there hasn’t been a lot of fun scenes to be honest with you. This isn’t a very fun time for Damon. But in the face of adversity and chaos, Damon still has a really good time. But [the scene with Elena] is steamy and it’s been waited for … you get a really big, huge glimpse into Damon’s vulnerability and what the power of attraction can do. That’s all I’ll say.
Any new vampire powers this season?
Just more powerful powers. Katherine is a lot stronger than Damon. New powers may be coming this season … Damon could use some new powers, babe!
How will Damon be handling Bonnie’s big threat?
Bonnie (Katerina Graham) can hold her own, unfortunately, with Damon. Anyone who can put Damon down on the ground — and not in a sexual way — is a problem. [Laughs] She’s a big problem for him. She’s a contender … I think if anything, she’s gonna prove to be useful. Katherine is going to be a major, major, major problem. Katherine is a bigger problem than Damon was in Season 1, because she’s three times more sadistic and seductive. I think what she wants is far greater than love, which is even scarier.
I think Matt Davis might be clinically insane, tweeting under a pen name, but fans are loving the back and forth you guys have on Twitter.
What is so amazing is, if in fact he is clinically insane, it is such a beautiful thing. I love that man. We totally have a bromance. Damon and Alaric and Elena spend a little bit of time together this season, and I think I can speak for Matt Davis and Nina Dobrev and myself when I say that we love being together on set. The three of us have a blast when we’re shooting stuff.