While at C2E2 in Chicago this year, we caught the “Vampire Diaries” panel to find out what will happen when the show returns this fall. It’ll air Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET. The panel included actors Michael Trevino and Candice Accola, plus series executive producer Julie Plec. We’ve included some of the highlights of the panel, for your supernatural pleasure.
Plec, on the attractiveness of the show’s stars:“Contrary to what it might look like with the beauty of the people that actually end up in the show, we do actually look for actors first--actors who, fortunately for us, also happen to be very good looking.”
Pleck, on casting Trevino and Accola: "The casting process in the pilot was so long and drawn out and arduous, and yet these two almost had their parts immediately. Candice walked into the room and was just this beautiful ray of sunshine, and so funny and sparkly and so much like Caroline in all the good ways, without all the bad things that Caroline was played with in the beginning of season one, and it was absolutely a no-brainer. And Trevino just has everything that you want Tyler to be. He doesn’t want to admit this, but he’s super-sensitivo. He’s got a good heart, this kid. In season one, he didn’t really have a lot of layers. He was pretty much your stock bully. We needed someone who could really dig deep emotionally too, knowing the road we were going to go down. So that was a pretty easy choice too.”
Trevino, on why he took the role: “Initially, to be honest, I read it and I was like, “Okay what’s the title of this? ‘The Vampire Diaries?’” And we had “Twilight” and “True Blood” out so at the time I thought, “Really, another vampire show? What’s this about?” But I’ve done a good amount of work for the CW Network and when I read the script and I liked it, and I did a little research on the books. But when it got down to it, it was the people behind it. It was Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec, who have an amazing track record. And I knew, them together with something that’s so hot in popular culture--honestly, how this can not be successful? And yep, that’s why I’m here for you fine people.”
Plec, on plotting the show: “Well, we have a bowl of everything scandalous and naked we could do and we just pick a name out of the hat. Actually, the thing that makes the show, I hope, work for people--but also makes it so incredibly hard to write on a weekly basis--is that there is no formula. I think we finally stumbled on the “end every episode with a bang” formula about four episodes into the season, but other than that, starting each new episode is like starting a movie from scratch. And I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s often got a nice unpredictable quality for the audience. They never feel like oh, in the first 10 minutes a character lies and in the second 10 minutes the character gets caught in the lie and then in the final 10 minutes we all learn a very valuable lesson. It drives structure purists crazy, it makes our jobs really difficult, but I think it actually also makes for a pretty wild ride.”a
Trevino, on his famous transformation scene into a werewolf: “It’s by far the most I’ve been challenged as an actor. I’m glad that we didn’t rush into it…We had an amazing crew and we shot it on a closed set and I was in a very vulnerable state the whole time. But it took at least a few weeks of preparation to get there, a one-day rehearsal before, and we shot it in two days--back-to-back days that were 14 hours of me chained up and pretty much naked. So, if it wasn’t for the crew that we have there, honestly I wouldn’t have been able to do it--if it wasn’t for Candice. Because the things that you don’t see behind the scenes that aren’t in the script--for me to get there emotionally over two days , it’s like a marathon. And you can run out of gas, overexert yourself, and Candice helped me in that scene where she’s telling me to calm down. There was no dialogue there, it wasn’t in the script. But she just took it upon herself to just talk to me in her soft little voice right in my ear, just kind of telling me to calm down, it’s okay and it really did help me. If it wasn’t for little things like that, I wouldn’t have got there as easily. At the end of the day, it was amazing--the post-production CGI work, the sound, and then the way everything was edited together, it was really good, and I’m happy with it.”
Plec, on the same scene: “We really wanted to make sure that Tyler’s transformation, the werewolf transformation, was as much of a human experience as it was anything else. We messed with his head a little bit, but really its very true. We’ve likened it to labor--it’s waves and waves of contractions, the most tremendous pain you’ll ever feel, that comes over you and then releasesfor a little while, and you’re just going through it again and again. It’s brutal, and it’s a really true sort of shedding-your-skin-as-an-adolescent-and-coming-into-your-own-as-a-man moment. I’m waxing poetic about it, but it’s the acting that carried that whole sequence. Yes, we had some cool arm-breaking and a back ripple and some sound effects to really bring it out, but it really was his willingness to expose himself to that level, and to vomit it all out there that made it all work.”
Accola, on what fake blood tastes like: “It depends what recipe. There’s all kind of recipes. There’s a sugar-free unsettled Jell-O, which actually isn’t as bad as it sounds. There’s also just that Naked Juice--they do berry and they add different juices to it. Sometimes its just straight-up corn syrup. That’s the ickiest one, it’s just a little to thick and sweet on the top.”
Plec, on Accola’s Caroline and her relationship with Trevino‘s Tyler: “Caroline’s whole journey is, everybody thought she was so selfish in season one and self-entered, but in reality she just loves too much and cares too much, and just wants people to connect with her, and that’s been her Achilles’ heel as a human, which became her greatest asset as a vampire. She was able to step into a really perilous situation and be this kid’s friend and be there for him. And that’s what I thought was so beautiful about it, just this bond of two unlikely supernatural creatures who shouldn’t be in the same room with each other on a full moon, and yet her unwillingness to leave him, not wanting him to be alone.
Plec, on the show’s relationships: “We’ve got witches doing magnificent witchy things and vampires being vampy and wolves being wolvy and that’s all great, and that’s why the show is so exciting. But when we begin to tell a story, we start from a place of, “What is our love story? Who are these people who love each other--and it’s not just romantic love, it’s platonic love, it’s the family unit, it’s where do your loyalties lie, who do you trust, who can you count on and who’s going to be there by your side to lead you through the most complicated time in your life, whether it be a transformation or just growing up?” Those relationships are very, very trying and painful. And they’re not always going to end well and they’re going to shift and they’re going to turn and you’re going to have your first love and then your first real love. Or you’re going to fall in love with your best friend and realize that that you’ve got to take a different journey in your path growing up. Everything that we do grows out of really cementing the emotional relationships on the show, so that we can have fun with the Romeo and Juliet of a vampire and a werewolf and the human caught in between with his best friend and the girl that he loves.”
On the upcoming third season, which begins in September 2011: “We like to tell our seasons in chapters. We had the werewolf chapter and the Rose/Elijah chapter and we are heading just on a collision course on the Klaus chapter and the sacrifice to break the curse of the sun and the moon. And everything that we start up when we get back off hiatus is all about that. Where is Klaus, does he know about Elena, what is Isabella doing back in town? Is the sacrifice ritual going to happen, are we going to be able to get ourselves out of it, will the doppleganger die, will a werewolf die, who will the werewolf be, who will the vampire be? I mean, there’s so much that’s coming that it’s just one thing on the next on the next. We’ve got another decade dance coming up, we’re dabbling in the ‘60s this time around, and then we’ve got another flashback episode before the season’s out and another full moon episode before the end of the season. And with full moons do come werewolves, so if anything I can tease a little bit of that.”
On how close “The Vampire Diaries” stays to author L.J. Smith‘s series of books: “It changes every now and then, but the bottom line is that the world that L.J. Smith created for us is such a rich magnificent world of characters and love stories and villains and this town and everything, and this town has in its history and its folklore and we very much set out to be very true to all those things that she had given us. Once we were able to lay the groundwork like she did using her material, we set off to tell the story and follow the story the way that we felt it, in the most organic way that we believed in it. So there will be things that you’ll see in the books that we’ll add in every now and then. Or we’ll go down that road because it feels right to us. Then there’ll be times when, because whether it’s casting or chemistry or just we’re up too late one night and we’re looking for a good idea, there will be lots of times when we’ll take a very different road. I think that’s why, hopefully, book fans can still appreciate the series because you just have no idea how it’s going to play out.”