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February 4th, 2011   Interviews, Vampire Diaries 0

I have chatted with the always jovial Ian Somerhalder a few times over the last 18 months (sometimes for “Vampire Diaries” other times for “Lost”) but found him in a particularly introspective mood upon picking up the phone yesterday. I realized almost immediately that all my “let’s talk about your bathtub scene” questions were going out the window.

And you know what, I couldn’t be happier because what transpired was an unexpectedly revealing and thoughtful conversation about his character, “Vampire Diaries” in general and why he has been caught as off-guard as the fans by Damon’s evolution.

PopWrap: First of all, congrats on an amazing episode last week. What did you make of Damon’s closing breakdown?
Ian Somerhalder: Aw, thanks man. It was a great one. The thing is that I am as confused as an actor as Damon is as an individual by virtue of the fact that he is such a phenomenally different character than I ever anticipated or planned on him being. Which is great because when it throws him for a loop, it throws me for a loop, so I’m constantly being kept on my toes.

PW: Yea, he does seem to be having a bit of a crisis right now.
Ian: And we all have those cliché man’s existential crisis moments – goodness, as a young man in my twenties, I was in search of finding an answer for it. He truly is experiencing, more than likely, for the first time in 150 years how this whole “feeling” thing works. It is really difficult to grapple with.

PW: I’d imagine that delivering that emotional monologue also took quite a bit out of you.
Ian: That was a very cathartic few hours not only for Damon, but also for me. Sometimes those types of scenes are really, really interesting because they come from a place deep within yourself. You are forced to put yourself through what that character is going through, so there’s an interesting connection there for an actor. This little journey that senior Damon is on is one to be reckoned with. He’s asking real serious questions that we’ve all asked ourselves. It just happens to be coming from a person who is 160 plus years old [laughs].

PW: You said before that Damon today is totally different than how you envisioned him. Could you expand upon that?
Ian: I had called Kevin [Williamson, co-creator], freaking out because I wasn’t ripping more people’s heads off and dancing half-naked with sorority girls. He told me, “Damon is evolving.” There is a 100 episode arc to this guy’s journey and he must evolve … or die

PW: So you just weren’t anticipating his evolution happening so quickly?
Ian: One of the appeals of the show is that it moves very quickly, which is fun because TV doesn’t typically move that way all the time. So Damon went through a pretty quick process of coming to town with an agenda to finding out that his agenda was completely wrong to staying in town because he started to care for people. That raised the stakes for him in a big way. When you forge relationships, you run the risk of caring. That makes it hard to walk away. And Damon, unfortunately, found himself subconsciously wanting to nurture those relationships. Now, he really cares about someone he wouldn’t have normally given a flying s*** about, pardon my French [laughs].

PW: It seems like his relationship with Elena almost opened him up to care about Rose so deeply.
Ian: We’re starting to see human similarities in him, which I understand are important, but it’s a fine balance between having him be Damon but not be Stefan. Stefan has this beautiful humanity but in all reality, Stefan has just grown really good — through lots of discipline — at controlling his urge to kill. Because don’t forget, Stefan natural instincts are to kill.

PW: Would you say that we’re about to see Damon’s dangerous side emerge again?
Ian: It’s difficult to create that fine line of being a caring individual and having him be a brutal killer who can, like Stefan, just turn it off. Does he have the capacity to love? That is his journey onto itself. Damon, I truly think, is being taken for a ride. This emotional journey for him is really difficult. But whether Damon helps a kitten out of a tree or brutally rips someone’s head off, he’ll do it in his own way. And he’ll probably do both of them with the exact same smile.

PW: Will Jules find herself on the receiving end of that smile?
Ian: Jules poses a threat to all that Damon stands for right now. Yes, she’s extremely hot, but a major pain in the ass. So we’re really going to show that when someone you deeply care about needs you, you’ll set aside your feelings, your ability to feel pain. Think of that mother who lifts a wrecked car off her child. We can find insane amounts of strength when it comes to protecting those we care about. He’s fighting for something that’s bigger than he is and that changes everything.

“The Vampire Diaries” airs Thursdays at 8pm on The CW


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Ian as Damon Salvatore
The vampire brothers Damon and Stefan Salvatore, eternal adolescents, having been leading 'normal' lives, hiding their bloodthirsty condition, for centuries, moving on before their non-aging is noticed. They are back in the Virginia town where they became vampires. Stefan is noble, denying himself blood to avoid killing, and tries to control his evil brother Damon.
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A former soldier is taken captive and awakens in the back of a van where he learns that he only has a few moments to figure out how he got there.
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