'Vampire Diaries': Ian Somerhalder on His 'Pissed-Off' Character and Whether He'll Direct an Episode (Q&A)

"Make no mistake, Damon is a guy who would have the same grin on his face if he was saving a kitten from a tree or cutting someone's head off," the actor tells THR in an interview.
"The Vampire Diaries"

A lot happened Thursday night, but that's exactly what The Vampire Diaries is known for. After Damon's compelled reporter girlfriend Andie is killed (by none other than "evil" Stefan), Caroline getting shot and Stefan's phone call to Elena, the wheels are starting to turn on the CW favorite as it begins its third season.

Somerhalder took some time out to chat with The Hollywood Reporter recently about possibly stepping behind the camera and whether his alter ego, Damon, has changed at all.

The Hollywood Reporter: Were you shocked when you read the script for the season premiere?

Ian Somerhalder: I was not surprised at all. You open up the script and the first half of the page you're standing naked. I spent a couple of days naked on set which is a really great bonding thing with myself and the crew. In season three, we've hit our stride. We are firing on all pistons. We know that we have to make this season better than the last two. We just need to.

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THR: Any pressure to maintain the quality of the show for the rest of the season?

Somerhalder: There's definitely a lot of pressure to maintain that quality. You want to only do better and if not, then there is no point in doing it at all. That's kind of the attitude that we take and I think it's proving to be successful by virtue of the fact that we are all having a really good time and working hard on the material and making sure it's the best that it can possibly be.

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THR: How has Damon changed from Season 2 to 3?

Somerhalder: You would think that with Damon almost dying would have given him a change of heart. Nope. Make no mistake, Damon is a guy who would have the same grin on his face if he was saving a kitten from a tree or cutting someone's head off. He has changed a lot but, to be completely honest with you, he's pissed off and he's annoyed. He's stuck in Mystic Falls protecting this girl he loves but can't have -- a) because she doesn't want him, b) because she's his brother's girl. Even for Damon, he won't stoop that low and he's annoyed. He tried for two seasons to get Stefan to what he wanted which is run around with him, munch on every sorority girl within arms reach, destroy everything in their paths and have a good time. That's what he wanted but to no avail Stefan shut him down.

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Now he's running around with Klaus who's a prick and he hates him. He tried to kill Damon, he wants [Elena] and Damon's sitting there like, "Are you kidding me? Really, you're running around with this idiot doing what you should be doing with me and you leave me in Mystic Falls to take care of the girl I'm in love with, who's your girl, who's a hundred and fifty years younger than I am? This is bullshit."

THR: How has your process changed in playing him. Or has it changed at all?

Somerhalder: I've never been on a TV show for more than a season and you have to continually keep it interesting and you have to keep it connected, even as you change. [Executive producer] Kevin Williamson drilled it into my head that Damon's not a two-dimensional character. Like the lives that we live; we change everyday and so does this character. This is a 100 hundred-episode arc of this man. To keep the stories connected you have to pull from your life past, present and future. Your experiences, your likes, your fears, your dislikes, and a lot of the times it's cathartic, but a lot of the times it's not always as simple. It muddies the water.

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THR: So there's a lot of Ian in Damon ...

Somerhalder: The only aspects of Damon that aren't really Ian is the fact that he can be a maniacal killer. People say, "How do you prepare for this role?," it's not like I go out and kill two sorority girls. That's not a good process.

THR: Is directing an episode something that could potentially happen?

Somerhalder: Beyond the shadow of a doubt. I aim to direct as much as I act at some point in time. To be honest with you, when I have a lot more experience under my belt and get a little older, I do want to slow down and have a family and do my whole thing. You spend enough time on set as an actor and it's great when a director was at some point an actor or understands acting. They're able to finesse performances out of you that a lot directors can't get. 

THR: Vampire Diaries specifically?

Somerhalder: At some point I'm going to have to do some serious convincing and shoot a movie that proves to them that I can move a camera and I know story, and probably twist some arms and beg and plead with [Warner Bros. TV chief] Peter Roth. Maybe in a couple seasons I'll be able to get one.

Email: philiana.ng@thr.com