‘The Vampire Diaries’: Ian Somerhalder talks about going bad, ‘Twilight,’ and his return to ‘Lost’

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It has been four years since Ian Somerhalder left the island behind on the hit drama ‘Lost,’ but in his new show, ‘The Vampire Diaries,’Somerhalder’s blood-sucking bad boy vampire Damon is worlds away from the sensitive Boone Carlyle fans came to know and mourn.

After last Thursday’s hugely successful premiere -- the highest in The CW’s history-- Somerhalder, 31, covered a wide range of topics with Show Tracker, including what’s next for Damon, those inevitable ‘Twilight’ comparisons, his ‘Vampire Diaries’ co-stars’ highly publicized trip to the slammer and, yes!, his upcoming three-episode return to ‘Lost.’

First off, congrats on the great numbers for the series premiere.

Thanks, let’s hope we can keep it going.

Your character, Damon, shows up late in the first episode so we still have a lot to figure out about him. What can you tell us beyond that he’s the “bad” brother?


Well, he comes back for very specific reasons. It’s very interesting to him that there’s this girl that Stefan found. She bears a striking resemblance to someone that we knew very well a very long time ago and it is a source of animosity between us brothers. Damon is definitely a bad guy -- he can wreak havoc at times -- but he does have his reasons. He’s got a major beef with his brother and possibly with the town.
How do you like playing Damon? He’s very different from characters you’ve played, and it’s interesting to see another side.

Damon doesn’t take himself very seriously and every other character that I’ve ever played does. It’s so liberating and so fun to actually go to work every day and not take myself seriously. Kevin [Williamson, the show’s executive producer] and the team, they just write such great stuff for me to say and I’m really, really happy and lucky that I got to do this.

Somerhalder talks about those ‘Twilight’ comparisons, his return to ‘Lost’ and his jailbird co-stars ... after the jump...

This show is sort of a happy combination of all of Kevin’s strengths: high school drama (“Dawson’s Creek”) and horror (“Scream.”)

He’s a genius in both of those, he truly is. The funny thing about Kevin Williamson is that he understands, for some reason, teenagers. He doesn’t do angst, exactly, but he understands how to pull on the heartstrings of that audience while -- in this case -- frightening the hell out of them. If you can mix those two genres together, you have a very interesting thing.

The end of the first episode hinted at something between Damon and Caroline. But they’re opposites -- he’s not so good and she is. What is in store for these two?
I loved that you call Caroline a good girl! (Laughs) Candice Accola is so awesome in this role. Damon definitely has plans for Caroline. I think if I said any more, Kevin would slap me.

It’s important that you and Paul Wesley, who plays Stefan, have chemistry. Did you do anything to bond before production?

We just have it, which is great. I remember after a whole day of shooting publicity, I still hadn’t seen the pilot and Paul had it at his place and he said, ‘Listen, we’re going to grab dinner and we’re going to go and we’re going to sit and we’re going to watch it.’ I was sitting there with him and I thought, ‘There are so many other people I could be stuck doing this together with and, fortunately, we got stuck with each other because it just works.’

So before “The Vampires Diaries,” there was “Twilight” and “True Blood.” Do you think their success has helped “The Vampire Diaries” find an audience or does it put more pressure on the show to distinguish itself?
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, both of those projects help us tremendously. The monumental, phenomenal success “Twilight” has had at the box office definitely paved a path -- not even a path, a freeway -- for this whole vampire genre to surface. Not that it ever was underneath the surface, but for some reason at this moment, it has hit.

I’ll quote Kevin a lot just because he knows what he’s saying, but Kevin said, ‘We are not a movie that has a beginning, a middle and an end. We are a series that will evolve.’ I think it’s important to remember that because we get to watch these characters evolve and grow. The dynamics between all of them change.

Have you read any of the books the show is based on?
I have been reading them. It’s definitely helped to understand. Sometimes I see things [from the books] in the script, you can kind of point them out. But I think there’s going to be variations.

As a huge “Lost” fan, I have to ask about your upcoming return to the show. I hear you’re going to Hawaii this week? What can you reveal about your return?
Unfortunately, the only thing they’ve told me that I am allowed to say is that I’m going back to do about three episodes. To be honest with you, I just got the script. It’s in a package upstairs, it’s sealed with all these crazy seals on it. I’m literally about to go draw a bath and have a glass of wine and read this “Lost” script. It weighs a ton, it’s probably about 100-something pages long.

Are you excited to go back to the show?
It will be cool. I’m only going to be in Hawaii for 18 hours or something. I am going to fly 10 hours each way and I’ll be in Hawaii, literally, probably for less than a day. I’m excited. I am really curious to see what that script says.

I have to ask you about the ‘Vampire Diaries’ news -- something about a photo shoot gone awry?
They were shooting some pictures on the side of a bridge. People thought they were committing suicide so they called the cops and all of a sudden, it’s like they’re flashing people. I just think it’s so funny. I told my co-stars, ‘Who cares? Who cares?’ Let them have fun. All this other ancillary tabloid misunderstanding, if you will, is just fodder and it’s not important. What’s important is the work and these girls are talented. The girls were very upset and annoyed and I just sit back and giggle.

‘The Vampire Diaries’ airs tonight at 8 Pacific time on The CW.

-- Kate Stanhope