FROM THE SET: INTERVIEW: Ian Somerhalder (Damon Salvatore) from The Vampire Diaries

January 27th, 2011 by

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It’s back!! The Vampire Diaries is finally back tonight after what felt like forever. Tonight’s episode “The Descent” picks up after Tyler’s werewolf transformation and Rose’s (Damon’s new special “friend”) werewolf bite. Eventually we will get to meet Klaus (the Original that everyone is dying to see) and a new sexy journalist special friend for Damon. I recently had the chance to visit the set of The Vampire Diaries in Atlanta. Ian Somerhalder was a busy busy vampire that day but we talked about the new softer side of Damon, what he wants to see from the Elena/Damon relationship and how Damon has changed since episode one.

When Lost ended you said you took a lot from Josh Holloway’s character of Sawyer for Damon. Are you still taking pieces of that character in your portrayal of Damon?
I don’t know if I took anything from it. I wanted it.

You wanted to be the bad boy?
I wanted it. And I got it. Times 100. Which is pretty awesome. Minus the red neck. Which I love red necks, basically my entire family are red necks.

Damon’s compassion and humanity has shone through this season.
Unfortunately, that’s her fault by the way (points to Julie Plec, one of the show’s creators who was in the room with us at the time).

How do you think he’s changed and evolved since day 1?
Wow. A lot actually. It was kind of crazy for me initially. I realized what was going to make Damon interesting was to make sure that he was conflicted and he’s starting to feel things that he hates. He doesn’t like feeling anything for anyone, because then you’re [taking] a risk. There are stakes. And when there are stakes, you risk losing something and that’s just something he doesn’t want to do. And it was really counter intuitive for me initially because I was so used to him being just a bad guy, to sort of layer in or to have these layers, was difficult for me. (Laughs) And I was kind of worried. I was like “wait a minute! Damon’s going soft!” And then he tries to kill Jeremy and I was like oh yeah, never mind.

He’s not so soft.
He’s still a dick. Perfect!

(laughs)
But it’s a really cool journey and I think Kevin [Williamson] and Julie [Plec] don’t want Damon to be a one trick pony and that’s what is amazing and challenging all at the same time. And so this whole thing with Elena, it’s kind of funny, you know when you sit with your dog or your cat and you’re sitting there telling your dog or your cat all of your problems.

Naturally, of course.
It makes you feel better. When you talk to your plant, or your car. You know when you’re screaming in your car to no one —

Often.
It makes you feel better! You end up feeling better, and basically telling Elena that he loved her was cathartic. It was a wonderful moment for him. It allowed him to get it off his chest for a couple episodes.

Julie Plec: Is one of us supposed to be the dog in situation?
(laughs) If Nina were here, she’d be like “Wait which one of us is supposed to be the dog.”

[Ed Note: Ian then has to leave and says he’s going to go be slammed against the wall and get something stuck in his neck. He returns a little later to talk again.]

How do you want to see the Damon and Elena relationship progress?
I just want to make out with her eventually. I mean, Stefan gets both of them. And I just think it’s time pay the fiddler. I have no idea how that’s ever going to happen, by the way. That’s a joke. I would just like to see him be in her [good] graces. I would just like for her to see that he’s not such a dick. But the problem is that he is. So, I don’t really know where I want that to go. All I know is that I want him to protect her. Because if something happens to her, then we lose the show, and then we’re screwed.

(laughs) Do you think Damon wants to save the day and be the hero?
Not really. No. I think he’s become the unlikely hero and it drives him up the fucking wall because it’s just too much. It’s one of those situations where it’s too much work being the hero. And also, it lends itself to not being fun — the social or family or love responsibility are the antithesis of selfish and free lovin’.

Can you tell us what you did for your birthday? [Ed. Note: A few journalists were on set shortly after his birthday]
I was here on set all day basically naked. I was naked. It was a shower scene and then I took about a three and a half hour bubble bath with a beautiful woman on set. Pretty much naked. And then munched on her a little bit and then I was brought a gigantic amazing cake by the crew and sang to as I’m in a bubble bath with a beautiful woman. And I launched my foundation, which is just the coolest thing. It was just the coolest thing ever. It really was such a memorable day. The energy floating around was just so palpable. It was really cool.

Birthday Ian was trending on Twitter.
I know. It’s crazy. I’m just so thankful to all of you guys — the media and the fans. It was a really powerful day. By the way, I was exhausted by the end of it. So I know that it was so full. It was just amazing. Awesome, awesome, awesome. I couldn’t have picked a better way to celebrate it. If I had to work, to be around this group of people, and to be naked all day with a gorgeous chick. It could be so much worse. It really could.

What has been your biggest challenge playing Damon?
The softer side of Sears. You know what I mean? It’s like (sings) “Come see the softer side of…Salvatore.” [Ed. Note: He has us all cracking up]
It’s tough, because there has to be truth and there’s a lot of real pain buried in that humor and that sort of the maniacal killer in him is starting to wane by virtue of the fact that again, not to sound like a broken record, all the stakes have been raised because he cares about people now. There are stakes.

Be sure to tune in for an all new episode of The Vampire Diaries tonight at 8 pm on the CW!

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