The Vampire Diaries - Ian Somerhalder
Ian Somerhalder © CW

Based on the novels by L.J. Smith, The Vampire Diaries is turning out to be a mega-success for The CW network. Already receiving a cult following, the series spotlights two brothers, Stefan and Damon, who have had a long and bitter history. Damon is portrayed by Ian Somerhalder, who loves to feed off of people, and embraces the vampire legacy of violence and brutality.

How much fun is it to play badass?

The Vampire Diaries - Ian Somerhalder
Ian Somerhalder © CW

More fun than I could ever possibly imagine, the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire run of my career. And it just continues to be more and more fun every day.

What part of that is you? Where do you get that badass quality?

Well, to preface it, which is always probably a good idea, I am not a maniacal killer, but I find some similarities I have in common with Damon. The reality of it is, I think Damon is a very lonely guy. We all know what it’s like to feel lonely. And there are two relationships that he wants back, his brother and his girl. And I know what it’s like to fight with my brother, and I know what it’s like to not have my girl. So I think there are a lot of common denominators between me and him.

I appreciate him. I find that I can’t judge him, even though sometimes that’s a bit difficult due to his actions. But to sum it all up, I think he’s doing all of this for love, strangely enough, and he’s just completely justified. And it makes this such a great experience and such a fun thing to do.

Did you take your character from the books or from the script that Kevin Williamson wrote?

The Vampire Diaries - Ian Somerhalder
Ian Somerhalder © CW

Paul (Wesley, who plays Stefan) and I talk about that all the time. We’re going to deviate often from the The Vampire Diaries books, we have to, it’s a series; it’s going to evolve. But I think that being true to those characters that L.J. Smith wrote, simply because of the fact we fell in love with them, I would like to stay as truthful to that as possible. Furthermore, he’s a badass in the book; he’s a lot of fun. He does whatever he wants, I’m not saying it’s a good or bad things; but he just has a blast.

Would you like to explore your character being good?

I think there’s as much room for good in Damon as there is evil in Stefan. We all have it inside of us – you look really nice right now, but I bet you if I pissed you off you wouldn’t be so nice.

You and Paul Wesley have a great rapport on the screen, was that there from the day you started or did it grow?

The Vampire Diaries - Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley
Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley © CW

We love each other man, we are like brothers. We dress alike, you should have seen us on the plane, Paul and I look at each other – we literally were wearing the exact same clothes. We went, ‘Oh, dude, which one is going to change?’ Flip a coin. It’s kind of freaky.

We do have a great rapport, and the thing is I realize that I could be doing this with anyone else, Paul is such a phenomenally talented committed actor, and he’s my good friend, but we got lucky and we work very hard to get these roles and we’re going to continue to work even harder to keep them.

You must get a lot of fan mail regarding the series, what kind of letters do you get?

Really positive ones, some of them are all questions, ‘What’s your favorite color?’ But when you have time to read them, some are really insightful and really heartfelt. These girls, young teens are so into the love aspect of the show that they have so many questions about love. They’re very inquisitive about it. I hope they don’t look up to my character!

Judy Sloane

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