Ian Somerhalder © CW Television Network

Based on the books by LJ Smith, The Vampire Diaries stars Ian Somerhalder as Damon, a brutal and bloodthirsty vampire who after 15 years reappears in the life of his younger brother, Stefan (Paul Wesley), turning his world upside down.

Stefan, also a vampire, has rejected the legacy of violence and is now attending Mystic Falls High School, attempting to leave his past behind. In school he meets Elena, who looks uncannily like a woman he loved more than a century ago; a woman that Damon tried to make his own. Now the two brothers are at war for Elena’s soul and for the souls of her friends, family and all the residents of Mystic Falls, Virginia.

How would you describe Damon?

Ian Somerhalder © CW Television Network
Ian Somerhalder © CW Television Network

He’s angry. He feels like he’s been wronged, very badly, and he wants vengeance and redemption. However, he’s the most lonely person I’ve ever known. Imagine being 170 years old. However old you are, at this point in time, imagine thinking about how much you know about life and quadrupling that, and seeing all the people you’ve ever known die around you. That probably makes you very cynical, and lonely.

Did you do a back story for your character? Did they tell you a lot about him?

Oh, yeah. And, it’s intense. Even people who are bad, it’s coming from a place. When we’re good to people, it’s coming from a good place. When we’re bad to people, it’s coming from a bad place. But, we all have a reason for what we’re doing, and Damon’s is pretty justified. He feels as though he was hurt very badly in the past, and wronged very deeply, so he’s ticked off and he’s ready for some vengeance. It’s going to be interesting. He has reasons for everything he does, so there will be shifts. The whole idea is that Damon has lost all humanity, but we will see different sides of him, as the season starts to play out.

You look like you’re really enjoying yourself.

Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev © CW Television Network
Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev © CW Television Network

It’s so much fun. Violence and brutality, for me, is never okay. I’m not a violent or brutal person, in the least bit. I’m actually really passive. But, his violence and brutality stems from someplace. Even people who are bad, do it for reasons. The reason why people like the bad boy in a film, a show, a book or a play is because they have so much fun doing what they’re doing, while they’re doing it. And, there’s something that’s interesting and enticing about watching someone like that. Even if he’s being mean, he’s having fun doing it. So, as humans, we’re sickly drawn to that, and we’re all guilty of it.


How does the relationship between Damon and Stefan change, throughout the series?


Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder © CW Television Network
Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder © CW Television Network

There are so many elements that are going to dictate that because of the mythology of it all. These two brothers have very different views on life. Damon has decided to not dismiss his heritage, which is, unfortunately, feeding on people. That’s what vampires do. It’s like if a human being decided to stop eating, essentially. And, Stefan, because of his love for people or just his desire to not have to brutally kill them, has decided not to, which makes it invariably difficult to hang out. And so, there are going to be a lot of twists and turns that are going to illustrate how different they are, and the bouncing back and forth of good to bad and bad to good. There are so many places that they can go.

Is Elena a reincarnation of Stefan’s true love, or is she a distant relative?

I’ve been twisting their arms to find that out, but they won’t tell us. It’s probably better because we’ll be married to the ideas of what they give us. And, they’re smart enough not to tell actors ‘cause they know that we’ll talk to you guys.

Will there be a lot of action with this role?

Yeah. I’ll be flying on wires and stuff. It’s just fun. We’d been working on the top of this building, five stories up. It was high. But, I was on a wire, where I could lean over the edge. I was harnessing my chi and trying not to be afraid, but I was in character and I wasn’t even thinking about the fact that I could fall off of that thing. You can’t because the wire stops you, but having your body leaning over the edge of something like that is a very strange feeling.

We had to shoot an effects shot, where I was jumping off of what looked like that building, but I only had to jump six feet backwards. And, I sat there for 20 minutes, trying to tell my body to jump backwards onto a bunch of pads. It’s so counter-intuitive because your body says, “No.” They were patient, but it’s one of those things where jumping around and doing things that are physically very odd to your body, takes a little bit of time to do.

Would you want to have the immortality of a vampire?

No way! Life is about the relationships that we have. It’s not about just us. It’s about our family, our friends, our children. We have a certain amount of time to do things. If you were immortal, it never ends. It just seems like it would be such a lonely existence.


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.