‘The Vampire Diaries’: Candice Accola bites into a new challenge

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When “The Vampire Diaries” returned for its sophomore season, all the buzz was centered around the return of evil vampire Katherine (Nina Dobrev). But another powerful female vampire quickly emerged when Katherine smothered Elena’s (Dobrev) friend Caroline (Candice Accola), who had vampire blood in her system. Was Caroline dead? Was she going to become a vampire? Were they writing Accola off the show? The answers to those questions turned out to be yes, yes and, thankfully, no, at least for now. As we saw Caroline discover her new vampire state and struggle to cope, it became obvious that this was not going to be the same story as human-turned-vampire-turned-dead-vampire Vicki (Kayla Ewell).

Recently, Accola spoke with Show Tracker about making the transition to vampire, what it meant for Caroline’s relationships, singing in an ‘80s cover band -– yes, seriously! -– and much more.


Are you excited to be playing a vampire?

Yeah. It’s really, really fun. It’s a whole different world. In anticipation of auditioning for Caroline, I definitely did not see this coming. It’s just a joy as an actor to get hired to be one thing and then to have a complete twist in your character a season in. It’s really such a blessing.

Did you ask Paul [Wesley] or Ian [Somerhalder] or even Nina for advice about how to play a vampire? Did you look to their performances at all?

Yes. I had the pleasure of working with Ian while he was vamping out on me during the first part of the first season. So I definitely reviewed that a little bit. Their main advice was to know my vamp face. You know, the face that you make kind of right before you bite. It’s just like when someone tells you, “OK, you need to scream on cue.” Usually, the first time you scream, it’s more like a squeak because it’s kind of a jarring thing. So that was my big piece of advice was to know my vamp face.

What was it like putting on those fangs for the first time? Are they uncomfortable? They’re not actually. The first pair that I tried on were kind of more like a retainer, so they had a bar around them. I started off as a vampire with a lisp. They changed them the next day before I started shooting. They’re just like two caps for my teeth on either side. I can talk normal. I can sip water if I need to. They’re not bad at all, actually. I was pretty impressed with the special-effects people for doing that. I think that with every television show, as the seasons go on, all the kinks are worked out. So part of what our production did was work out the kinks of vamping out. There are no more contacts this year. A lot of the things in special effects are done in post [production]. There’s not as much time in the makeup chair as you would think. It’s really all of our editors that make that kind of magic for us happen.

Last week’s episode was the first time we got to see you interact with Stefan [Wesley] in a while. Will you be sharing more scenes with Stefan and Damon [Somerhalder] now?

I thought that was such a wonderful moment with Stefan and Caroline in the bathroom, and Stefan tells her, “I promise I’m not going to let anything happen to you.” Her biggest [problem] is insecurity, really just wanting to be whoever she was with, whether it was Damon, who was treating her wrong, or even Matt.... To have someone who is unexpected, who doesn’t have to be there, give her that support, say, “Hey, I’m here, and I’m supporting you.” We’ll see how it plays out. The end of Episode 2 has set up a beautiful opportunity for a friendship to spark.

In the episode, you said, “Why did Katherine do this to me?” Why do you think she did it?

I think it truly was to send a message that she doesn’t have boundaries. I think that it’s her sending a message not just to Damon and Stefan but also to Elena that she holds no boundaries in getting what she wants. She just wants to throw every wrench into their relationship that she can.

Will their paths cross again? And will Caroline seek revenge for what Katherine did to her?

Katherine is definitely hanging around Mystic Falls for awhile. Their paths have to cross at a certain point. It’s definitely an interesting thing because Katherine is such a powerful force. I think it’s evident that everyone in that town, if they know who she is and know what she’s capable of, they have every reason to be so scared of her. I think that there’s definitely going to be an opportunity for Katherine’s and Caroline’s paths to cross.

What was your reaction when you first read the end of the season premiere and found out that Katherine killed you?

I had gotten a wonderful, wonderful phone call from [executive producer] Kevin Williamson explaining their premise for the second episode. I was very excited. I didn’t know how they were going to execute last Thursday’s episode and the lengths to which we were going to see Caroline go through this transformation. I was excited. When I initially went in for Caroline, she didn’t have a supernatural quality to her. I thought that I was hired to play one version of the character. Obviously, characters grow, but this is a whole different kind of growth and a whole different kind of change. It was just exciting to be able to come to work and have a whole new medium in which to challenge myself as an actor. Just as you said, Caroline and Stefan haven’t really interacted since the pilot, so it definitely opened up opportunities to work with other cast-mates that I hadn’t been working with. There are 10 of us regulars, so there are certain groups that obviously work together more than others. We all get along and are so close that it’s always a joy when there’s a new face in front of you and new intentions and new buttons to push.

What does this mean for Caroline and Matt [Zach Roerig]? Were you worried for that relationship when you found out you were going to be a vampire?

I was excited. I’m a television junkie. When you’re watching television, you don’t want to watch a show where everything just works out. You don’t want to see a relationship that’s just blossoming and everyone’s happy and sunshine and roses all the time. That’s also not true in life. Sometimes, if there’s something that’s good enough, then it works itself out and the couple works through it. It’s obviously a different extreme of something that comes up. ... Even though there’s a supernatural quality to it, I think it’s still very human. Something came up and Caroline’s changed. She’s changing as a person, as a nonperson at this point. It is going to be interesting to see: “Is what Caroline and Matt had enough?” And he obviously told her that he loved her at the end of the episode. There’s obviously something there.

How is Caroline’s transformation going to affect her friendship with Bonnie [Katerina Graham]?

I would assume greatly. ... Sometimes there are friendships where there needs to be some space apart. I think that that’s kind of a point for Bonnie and Caroline. They both need to figure out how they feel about that situation. Also, looking back on the first season, Caroline wasn’t necessarily so supportive when Bonnie was finding out about her own changes and her own supernatural qualities. ... It’s a lot for Caroline to expect Bonnie to have that immediate just being OK with everything because Caroline didn’t give her that support.

Is the fact that Caroline is now a vampire finally going to clue in her mother [Marguerite MacIntyre] to what’s going on right underneath her nose?

It definitely has to at a certain point. Her changing and turning affect every single relationship in her life, especially with her mother. ... Her mother’s always tried to be supportive in times when Caroline didn’t want her support. This is a time when she’s going to need it. It’ll be interesting to see if her mom steps up to the plate.

I read that you started an ‘80s cover band with some of the crew members called Straight to Video. What songs do you guys sing?

We haven’t had a reunion yet, but we were playing with the wrap party. Oh man, we did like a good, solid set of like 10 songs. Then we did “Walk Like an Egyptian,” “Just What I Needed,” “We’re Not Going to Take It.” It wasn’t specifically ‘80s. We did a little bit of “Where Is My Mind” and “I Want You to Want Me.” It was really, really fun. We did “Breed” by Nirvana, which was really sweet to do.

I think [executive producers] Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec might have to do a talent-show episode so we can get the cast singing.

Yeah. Everyone’s got their little niche. It’d be really fun. ... [But] I find it nice to keep it separate as well. It’s always weird when you see a movie and there’s no reason for someone to, like, jump on stage and be a singer, and then they just do that. ... But if it came organically, I would grab that mike and jump on stage for sure.

Don’t forget to come back to Show Tracker for my recap of Thursday night’s episode and to share your thoughts.

-- Vlada Gelman (follow my TV musings on Twitter at @stayingin)


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Photos, from top: Newly turned vampire Caroline (Candice Accola) has a craving for blood. Damon (Ian Somerhalder) confronts Caroline. Caroline and her boyfriend, Matt (Zach Roerig), in less complicated times. Credit: Bob Mahoney / The CW