‘The Vampire Diaries’: Sara Canning makes her own luck
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Fans of the CW’s breakout freshman hit ‘The Vampire Diaries’ are often surprised when they learn that Sara Canning, who plays Elena and Jeremy’s aunt Jenna, is only 22 years old.
‘The makeup artists and the wardrobe team do a great job of making me look older than I typically do,’ Sara says, her Canadian accent much stronger when she’s out of character. ‘And the rest is just the challenge with the role. I’m the parental figure on the show, which is totally odd, because Nina [Dobrev] and Steven [R. McQueen] are both so close to me in age.’
They’re not only close in age. The ‘Vampire Diaries’ cast has become an incredibly close-knit group of friends. ‘We’re so lucky,’ Sara says. ‘It’s a little eerie, how everyone really genuinely loves each other.’
In fact, Sara and Nina share an apartment in Atlanta, where they show is filmed. ‘She’s the best roommate in the world,’ Sara says of her costar. ‘She’ll make me food, make me coffee in the morning. She’s so easy to live with. I’m so lucky.’ Canning brings up luck often, rarely taking credit for her own achievements.
‘The stars lined up for my audition, they really did,’ she says. ‘I was so lucky! I auditioned in Vancouver, and Julie Plec [the show’s co-creator] was there. I really owe so much to her and Kevin Williamson, because I think they really pushed for me. I’m so lucky it worked out.’
It may have been luck, but Sara found something to relate to in her character right away.
‘Jenna suddenly had to shoulder all of this responsibility and, essentially, grow up all at once, and I can relate to that. She has flaws that she’s working out, but she has such a good heart. She wants to do the most noble job she can of taking care of Elena and Jeremy after their parents’ death. She’s helping them through this difficult phase of being in high school with boys and drugs ... and vampires, but she’s also got school and her own life to worry about.’
Thursday night, ‘The Vampire Diaries’ returns with ‘A Few Good Men,’ the first new episode in more than a month. In this episode, Aunt Jenna breaks the news to her new love interest, Alaric (Matt Davis), that his dead wife, Isobel, may have been Elena’s birth mother.
It may seem that Jenna is the only character without a dark, secret past, but Sara warns us that appearances may be deceiving. ‘Jenna has skeletons in her closet. I’m sure of it,’ she says. ‘Jenna’s had a bit of a crazy past. She was a partier. She’s experimented with drugs; she’s had rough patches with guys. We’re going to find out more about her relationship with her sister.’
Like the rest of the ‘Vampire Diaries’ cast, Canning is frustratingly good at keeping secrets: She’s not very forthcoming when it comes to spoilers for future episodes. ‘I had a lot of fun on an episode that we shot recently,’ she says, ‘because we finally get to see Jenna let her hair down a little bit and get a little wild.’
So far, Jenna hasn’t had a lot of luck in the love department. Her last boyfriend, Logan, was turned into a vampire and killed, and her latest beau, Alaric, is in town with a vengeful agenda. ‘At first it was like, oh, they have some lovely chemistry together,’ Canning says. ‘But things are going to come between them. It’s not going to be an easy road.’
‘We work long hours,’ Canning says. ‘So we’re lucky that everyone is so fun to be around on set.’ She says that Paul Wesley is the funniest cast member on set. ‘Catching Paul in one of his moods is hysterical. Sometimes he’ll be very intensely at work, and then he’ll have these moments where he just cracks us all up. I could just sit back all day and let him entertain me.’
With only a handful of episodes left to shoot, the cast is making plans for summer hiatus. ‘I’d love to be working, but I think I’ll also take some time to have a few adventures over the break. I want to drive across the United States and just take that in. I’ve driven across Canada a few times, but now it’s time to do it here.’
As for the next season of ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ which already has been confirmed by the CW, Sara has high hopes for her character. ‘I’d love for her to get thrown into the loop with all of the supernatural beings in Mystic Falls. She’s been with Jeremy and Elena and Alaric, this mysterious new history teacher, getting closer and closer to the actual vampires. I want her to find out her niece is dating a vampire.’
Of course, I can’t let Sara go without asking her the inevitable question: Stefan (Wesley) or Damon (Ian Somerhalder)? ‘Really? I have to pick?’ she says, laughing. ‘I’ve decided that Stefan would be ideal for the rest of eternity, but you’d have to have a weekend with Damon. I mean, you haven’t experienced life until you’ve experienced Damon Salvatore!’
‘The Vampire Diaries’ returns tonight at 8 on the CW. Don’t forget to come back to Show Tracker for our episode review, plus more from my interview with Sara Canning.
-- Carina MacKenzie (chat with me on Twitter @cadlymack)
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