Ian Somerhalder talks about his role as bad-boy vamp Damon...
What is The Vampire Diaries all about? The Vampire Diaries is a story about two vampire brothers and a girl they were both in love with many, many years ago. My character, Damon, feels like he was wronged by his brother, Stefan, so the pair have been feuding for about 145 years. So Stefan turns up in this town where they were turned into vampires and he gets settled, finds a girl and starts to feel something, finally. And then I show up to make his life a living hell. And then we end up in a very interesting love triangle with a beautiful mortal girl called Elena.
Stefan seems pretty wimpy. In the vampire world, if you eat people you have unbelievable amounts of power. If you eat squirrels and bunnies and rats because you don’t want to kill people, it makes you pretty weak. Stefan, who doesn’t kill people, doesn’t have the strength that Damon has.
Your character in Lost, Boone, was sweet; is it nice to turn bad? It is! You know why? Because bad guys have fun. And the allure of those types of roles is that you don’t have to take yourself so seriously. Imagine being 175 years old and the one thing you had in your life, the love of your life, was taken away from you. And you feel so wronged that you have a vendetta that lasts 145 years. Damon promised his brother that he would make his life miserable for eternity, so Damon feels as if he’s just keeping a promise. That’s fun. Damon controls life; life doesn’t control him. He has mind manipulation powers; he can look at you and make you think what he wants. I mean, come on, just how cool is that?
Why do girls like bad guys? For the same reason guys look up to bad guys: because they don’t give a s***. They don’t care. We’re attracted to confidence, and this guy is the epitome of that. He knows what he wants and he definitely gets it.
Will we ever see a good side to Damon’s character? Absolutely. Damon is fiercely loyal, and that’s the beauty of it. There’s a lot of edge and heaviness but there’s also a lot of levity. He may sounds like a negative character, but there’s so much comedy.
Can you identify with him? I can’t identify with wanting to hurt people, but what I can identify with is that he does things out of loneliness. Imagine you are cast away as an immortal for an eternity and you can’t be around the one person you have. Being lonely drives you to do some really crazy stuff.
There are a lot of theories of how you can kill a vampire… Yeah, but with these guys not many of those traditional methods work. We have these lapis stone rings that allow us to go in the sun. I mean, look at me – I’m tanned. Damon likes going to the Virgin Islands, you know? Actually, I think I’m going to pitch an idea to Kevin [Williamson, executive producer]: ‘We should have Damon on a beach in the Caribbean for a couple of episodes.’ Obviously there’s garlic, silver bullets – but I don’t think those work on these guys. Except for if you take off your ring and you walk into the sun – then you’re toast. But a stake through the heart is always a big problem for a vampire. Always problematic, stakes in the heart. But not garlic, no.
How is The Vampire Diaries different to Twilight? There’s a certain edge to this show that adds a whole other layer of intensity. It’s shot differently, but yes there are similarities and we’re very happy Twilight exists. The books this series was based on are older than Twilight, and obviously they [the Twilight films] come around every year and we’re on every week, so hopefully it’ll work out for us. We’re so lucky to have this show. Kevin is like a crazy genius – we have Kevin and Julie [Plec, co-executive producer] and Marcos Siega, who directed the pilot. You have this powerhouse of genius minds working around the clock. These guys are working their asses off and so are we. I mean, I just flew in here for the day. I haven’t slept in two days…
You are a vampire now. I am. I feel like a vampire.