Q+A: Ian Somerhalder Is Dead Again! This Time on 'The Vampire Diaries'

by Ramin Setoodeh

Ian Somerhalder was the first actor killed off Lost, and now he's dead again—in The Vampire Diaries. The CW series premiered with 4.8 million viewers earlier this month, the best ever for the network, making it one of the breakout hits of the fall season. Somerhalder spoke to Pop Vox about playing a bloodsucker.

How did you end up in Vampire Diaries?
I desperately wanted it. My girlfriend and I were in the desert in Vegas, and I realized I'd missed this meeting. My agent called me back and said, "They need you there at 11 in the morning, having memorized nine pages of the script." It's now 9 o'clock at night in Vegas. We got up very early and I drove across the desert while she slept. I taped my pages together; that's how I worked on the material.

You memorized the script while you were driving?
I probably shouldn't be saying that. It wasn't dangerous. I'm a good driver. Booking this show was a crazy ordeal. They tested a lot of people for it. This was kind of the pilot to get, and it was highly competitive. Coming out of that and looking back, it was 10 days of not knowing. Ten days of mental torture.

Do you still get nervous about stuff like that?

Are you a big vampire fan?
I am. I'm from New Orleans. There's a lot of vampire mystique and mythology that resonates there, and I was fascinated by it. I always wanted to play one. I auditioned for True Blood. I just couldn't convince Alan Ball that was my role. And then I didn't get it, and I was very bummed. I couldn't watch True Blood until now.

Which part did you audition for?
Ryan Kwanten's.

Did you ever get into Twilight?
I didn't. And I didn't see the movie. I don't want to have that in my head. I don't want to make comparisons.

How did you prepare to play a vampire?
I have some Anne Rice next to my bed. There's this sense of it's sexy, and then also it's fun. Having an immense amount of power to play with, not being mortal, as an actor it adds so much dynamic to this character. You don't have the restraints of being a normal guy. You can do whatever you want.

Is that a new tattoo on your arm?
I just got it. It got approved by the network.

They have to approve it?
Yes. There's a tattoo policy at CBS, not having anything offensive on your arm. It says "Here and now" in Latin.

is going to enter its final season this year. Will you be in any episodes?
I'll be back for a couple episodes.

What about the finale?
I don't know. I know it's the season opener and two others.

Is it a flash-forward?
That I don't know. They won't tell me, because they know I'm going to talk to you guys.

When do you get the script?
That's a question I had. I imagine I won't get the script until probably I land. I don't blame them. It's the season-six opener, and they want to keep a major lid on it.

Do you know any secrets?

Do you still watch the show?
I need to do some major catch-up on the show. It's great. I love watching my friends.

Is it like a high-school reunion when you return?
That would've been one crazy high school. It's more like a family reunion. The funny thing about going back is that we're all five years older, but no one looks it, acts it. It's like a moment in time that's been frozen for five years. The only thing that's different is that all the kids are bigger.