Ending any chapter of life after eight years would be emotional, but for The Vampire Diaries cast and crew, filming The CW show's series finale was filled with straight-up ugly crying.
"It was about as powerful as you might imagine," series co-creator Julie Plec, who also directed and co-wrote the episode, told The Hollywood Reporter of her final days on the Atlanta set. "There were a lot of speeches, a lot of hugs, a lot of tears, a lot of ugly cries. It was extremely emotional and sometimes almost debilitating, but it was really beautiful — so much so that when we were finally done and I wrapped up in Atlanta and came home, that I felt cleansed of all the bittersweet emotion that I had attached to finishing the show. I felt clean of it and have been totally normal and sane since I got home."
But star Ian Somerhalder said that it was business as usual while he filmed his final scene.
"Up until the second they yell 'cut,' it's the same shit," he said. "Focus pullers are still pulling focus, everything's still doing everything as quickly as possible."
Michael Malarkey, who joined TVD in its fifth season, tried to treat his last scene as any other day at work — but it wasn't possible. "I didn't realize how affected I'd be. I'm all business when I get to work," he said. "I care deeply about what I do, and I wanted to just treat it like every other day, just smash it and finish and give Julie a hug. So the last scene I'm doing, I think there's another [take], so I'm kind of pacing around, you know, doing my thing. And then I hear this voice, which is Julie coming in the doorway saying, 'Michael? It's time.' 'I'm not ready for this!' But she gave a great eulogy for everybody … about our place in the show, and everything, and I remember being deeply moved by that."
When he tried to give his own speech, "I was sputtering through it, through tears," he confessed.
Zach Roerig, who played the supernatural series' token human character for eight years, had an emotional scene to end on. "I was trying to keep myself well calibrated and make sure that my emotions were based in the scene and not because it was my last scene of the show," he said at the screening. "Then at the end Julie knew. She'd seen my lip quivering and the snot bubbling, and she's like, 'Zach, this is a free one. Just let it rip.' And I really let it out. … She gave us all a really nice speech. It was very tender."
Paul Wesley had a much more colorful experience. "My final scene, I finished my scene. I had my eyes closed, and someone sprayed [silly string] in my face. Literally, direct shot in my face, and I was like, 'Baahhh.' I was doing this emotional scene, crying or whatever, and then all of a sudden I have [silly string] in my eyes. I was like, 'Wait, what?' It was really funny."
As emotional as things got on set, Plec told THR that it was a cathartic experience they all shared together. "It was basically like living in a spiritual retreat for a couple of weeks with a bunch of people who are all as f—ed up as you are and all need it as much as you do, and we all got a really nice piece of closure with each other out of it."
The Vampire Diaries series finale airs Friday, March 10 at 9 p.m. on The CW, following a one-hour retrospective about the series.