'Vampire Diaries': Candice Accola on 'Hell-Bent' Caroline, College Romance and Season 5

The actress previews the new season with THR, hinting that things may not look good for Tyler and Caroline: "I think in most circumstances, high school sweethearts don't really make it past freshman year."
The CW
Candice Accola stars in "The Vampire Diaries."

[Warning: Some minor spoilers ahead for season five.]

The Vampire Diaries is heading to college.

After a summer to de-stress, the CW drama returns with Elena (Nina Dobrev) -- happily gallivanting with Damon (Ian Somerhalder) -- and Caroline (Candice Accola) looking ahead to life after high school at nearby Whitmore College, but it won't be smooth sailing.

It's been months since the events of the high-stakes season-four finale, which saw Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) resurrected, Katherine turning human and the villainous Silas locking Stefan (Paul Wesley) away in an underwater tomb, and it appears life is back to normal. But in Mystic Falls, that never lasts long.

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In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter, Accola previews the upcoming fifth season, including Caroline and Tyler's uncertain future, introducing a brand-new world and the mystery of Whitmore College.

Season five introduces a brand-new world with Elena and Caroline heading off to college. What was that like, heading into a new environment?

It's really exciting. There's a lot of transitions in this season, with the Originals gone -- they've got their new show [The Originals, debuting after The Vampire Diaries] now -- the girls going to college and not knowing that Bonnie's (Kat Graham) dead and that Stefan's locked away in a tomb underwater. Just your average things to deal with when you're going off to college. (Laughs.) No, but we have a lot of big, exciting storylines and it's a nice new world that we're transitioning into and I think the writers have done such a great job. It's not such a harsh transition to where you're no longer in Mystic Falls or anything like that. You still feel connected.

How different is Whitmore College from Mystic Falls?

Whitmore College is very different from Mystic Falls, namely because there's so many new people. There's new places, there's new sets, it's all new. We still have parties and events [each week], and we will see these characters get dressed up.

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Elena and Caroline's friendship is going strong at the start of the season. What sort of troubles will they face this year in college?

I have no idea what kind of troubles they are going to face throughout the season, but they are really good right now. I think what the writers do so well in writing this female friendship is that they can have women tell each other the truth, "Hey, I don't agree when you do that, but I still love you even though I don't like it." It's not a bunch of women talking about each other behind their backs and being mean for the sake of being mean. There's real purpose to any of their conflicts. I love that because that's how friendships really are. You don't always get along with your friends, you don't always like your friends but you love them and it's all rooted in the greater good of wanting the best for each other.

The two of them are kind of like buddy detectives, at least in the beginning ...

I love that Caroline and Elena are much more sure of who they are now, to be able to find the answers themselves, whereas before, over the past four seasons, they'd have to go to Damon and go to Stefan and ask someone to find the answers. Now, they know so much that they can go and figure it out for themselves and they're enjoying that role greatly.

How will Caroline and Elena deal with the pressures of having to hide their vampirism -- and being "functional" -- at Whitmore?

Vampires are not necessarily out in the open in Mystic Falls and they are definitely not out in the open at Whitmore College, so Caroline and Elena are hell-bent on keeping their identities a secret. We're going to see them continue to do so as the season goes on.

Caroline and Elena also learn that there is much more going on at college than they originally thought. How does their new roommate, Megan (Hayley Kiyoko), play into that?

I think it would be a very poor decision on the writers' part [not to follow through on that and have] nothing supernatural follow them there. We'll see these characters not have your average college experience. There will be drama that follows them there, and they're going to have to get to the bottom of all of these new problems that have popped up at school. Rest assured, it won't just be frat parties and keg stands. There will be a lot more going on at Whitmore College.

Hypothetically speaking, how do you think Caroline will react when she finds out about Bonnie's sacrifice?

I would assume not well when Elena and Caroline learn what's happened to Bonnie. They will be quite heartbroken.

Early on, we're introduced to a new college student, Jesse (Kendrick Sampson), who takes a shine to Caroline. How does he play into her story?

What's really fun about the girls going to school is we have the opportunity to meet a whole bunch of new characters, and Jesse is one of these new characters. He's a very good-looking gentleman who seems to have taken a liking to Caroline, but Caroline's really focused on Tyler (Michael Trevino) and is not in any position to want to spend time with [Jesse]. But Elena's trying to encourage this budding romance, which quite frankly, Caroline does not consider a budding romance at all.

What's the likelihood of Tyler and Caroline lasting?

The likelihood of them lasting is just as likely as any other high school relationships that [travel] to college. Sometimes that works, sometimes that doesn't. I think Caroline's really trying to make it work but I think in most circumstances, high school sweethearts don't really make it past freshman year.

Will Caroline head back to Mystic Falls on a regular basis?

Yes, the characters do go back to Mystic Falls. They're not permanently at college. They go on weekend trips home.

The Vampire Diaries premieres Oct. 3 at 8 p.m. on The CW.

E-mail: Philiana.Ng@THR.com
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