Ian Somerhalder is into his sixth season portraying the evil Damon Salvatore on The CW’s successful series The Vampire Diaries.
Joseph Morgan joined The Vampire Diaries in its second season as original vampire Klaus Mikaelson, an antagonist building an army of new ‘hybrids,’ half vampire, half werewolf. In 2013, he moved on to star in The CW’s spin off The Originals.
Both Ian and Joseph came to the TV Critics tour to talk about their shows and their characters’ growth throughout the years.
Your characters, once they became more central, had to become slightly less evil. Do you miss being totally evil, or are you enjoying the ambiguity?
Ian Somerhalder: Should I cry on stage or off stage?
Joseph Morgan: The last thing I shot was me walking in with a bag full of severed heads. So I don’t think he’s lost too much of the evil.
I think that Klaus and Damon both do the same thing. We do really terrible things for good reasons now, for the ones we love or protect, those we care about. So, yes, it’s slightly less evil, but that way we can justify what evil we have.
Ian: Yeah. It’s ill intent but for righteous reason. Those are the scariest type of people, if we look into the world today. Those are the ones that we are really afraid of.
Damon has not walked into a room lately with a bag of severed heads. So the answer to your question is yes, it’s applicable to me. It ultimately does lessen the blow a little bit of Damon’s let’s call it sphere of influence and his ill intent, but it’s for the ones he loves.
As your characters shift, do you find that those following you on social media respond to the immediate changes in the story line, or do you find they are pretty consistent in what they have to say to you about the characters?
Joseph: I find that there’s definitely a consistency. There are diehard fans who are all about one element of a story line.
But definitely there’s a week by week change and there are things that people see, especially in the earlier stages of the development of my character. There were things we were finding out, things that were happening, and relationships that were being developed that were commented on as they were happening.
People were giving blow by blow [accounts] about how they felt about it and how that was affecting them and what they thought should happen. Our audience is very involved.
Ian: Very involved. I will be the first to say I think the world shifted completely with the advent of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. These spaces, we could call them, created an environment to transfer a lot of information very quickly all of a sudden, and it becomes this crazy, organic beast at times.
But the ability for these people to start a forum and actually bond themselves over these story lines is really [wonderful]. It has really changed the face of the planet.
Joseph: It’s kind of amazing to have that. There’s no middleman there, you can have direct access with the fans of the shows, and you get immediate responses.
You have to grow a thick skin as well, because the dramatic nature of the show that we do, and the turns and twists and the things that are happening on an episode by episode basis, there’s always people who really feels strongly that they don’t like something that happens. So you have to accept that, and that’s a good thing.
Do you know what’s coming up on your shows?
Joseph: When the [writers] come to Atlanta, where we shoot most of the show, we get to grill them as to what the story lines are going to be coming up. I have a vague idea of what’s happening. We are shooting Episode 14 at the moment. And I’ve looked through 15, but that’s about as far as I got.
Ian: We were literally just backstage, and Joseph comes up and he goes, ‘Man, I remember at the end of Season 2, you came up to me and you said, ‘Wow, 44 episodes, guys. Look at what we’ve done.’ And Joseph had been there for four episodes.
Joseph: It’s almost 37 [episodes] now of The Originals. It’s crazy. And I did 50 of The Vampire Diaries. So I’m kind of blown away.
Ian: Yeah. Thank God you’re gone. (he laughs) It gives me room to breathe.
Joseph: Stealing your bad guy.
Ian: It’s the audience and the media that keep the shows alive. So thank you for allowing us those opportunities to continue this, even when you don’t like us!